2LO1 Gain an understanding of how each of the five generic competitive strategies go about building competitive advantage and delivering superior value to customers.LO2 Learn the major avenues for achieving a competitive advantage based on lower costs.LO3 Recognize why some generic strategies work better in certain kinds of industry and competitive conditions than others.
3LO4 Gain command of the major avenues for developing a competitive advantage based on differentiating a company’s product or service offering from the offerings of rivals.LO5 Recognize the required conditions for delivering superior value to customers through the use of a hybrid of low-cost provider and differentiation strategies.
4COMPETITIVE STRATEGIES AND MARKET POSITIONING Competitive StrategyDeals exclusively with management’s game plan for competing successfully and securing a competitive advantage over rivalsRepresents the firm’s specific efforts to provide superior value to customers by offering:An equally good product at a lower priceA superior product with unique features perceived as worth paying more forAn attractive overall mix of price, features, quality, service, and other appealing attributes
5A competitive strategy concerns the specifics of management’s game plan for competing successfully and securing a competitive advantage over rivals in the marketplace.
6FIGURE 5.1The Five Generic Competitive Strategies
7The Five Generic Competitive Strategies Low-cost providerStriving to achieve lower overall costs than rivals and appealing to a broad spectrum of customers, usually by underpricing rivalsBroad differentiationSeeking to differentiate the firm’s product or service from rivals’ in ways that will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyersFocused low-costConcentrating on a narrow buyer segment (or market niche) and outcompeting rivals by having lower costs than rivals and thus being able to serve niche members at a lower priceFocused differentiationConcentrating on a narrow buyer segment (or market niche) and outcompeting rivals by offering niche members customized attributes that meet their tastes and requirements better than rivals’ productsBest-cost providerGiving customers more value for the money by satisfying buyers’ expectations on key quality/features/performance/service attributes while beating their price expectations
8Low-Cost Provider Strategies A powerful competitive approach with price- sensitive buyers when a firm’s offering:Has a lower cost than rivals—but not necessarily the absolutely lowest possible cost.Includes features and services that buyers consider essential.Is viewed by consumers as offering equivalent or higher value even if priced lower than competing products.8
9A low-cost leader’s basis for competitive advantage is lower overall costs than com- petitors. Success in achieving a low-cost edge over rivals comes from eliminating and/or curbing “nonessential” activities and/or outmanaging rivals in performing essential activities.
10Translating a Low-Cost Strategy into Attractive Profit Performance Option 1Use a lower-cost edge to underprice competitors and attract price-sensitive buyers in great enough numbers to increase total profitsOption 2Maintain present price, be content with present market share, and use lower-cost edge to earn a higher profit margin on each unit sold
11The Two Major Avenues for Achieving Low-Cost Leadership Perform essential value chain activities more cost-effectively than rivalsRevamp the firm’s overall value chain to eliminate or bypass some cost-producing activities
12Cost-Efficient Management of Value Chain Activities Striving to capture all available economies of scaleTaking full advantage of experience and learning curve effectsTrying to operate facilities at full capacityPursuing efforts to boost sales volumes and thus spread outlays for R&D, advertising, and general administration over more unitsSubstituting lower-cost inputs whenever there’s little or no sacrifice in product quality or product performanceEmploying advanced production technology and process design to improve overall efficiencyUsing communication systems and information technology to achieve operating efficienciesPursuing ways to reduce workforce size and lower overall compensation costsUsing the company’s bargaining power vis-à-vis suppliers to gain concessionsBeing alert to the cost advantages of outsourcing and vertical integration
13Revamping the Value Chain Sell directly to consumers and cut out the activities and costs of distributors and dealersReduce materials handling and shipping costs by having suppliers locate plants or warehouses close to a firm’s own facilitiesReengineering the firm’s value chainStreamline operations by eliminating low value-added or unnecessary work steps and activities
14When a Low-Cost Strategy Works Best Price competition among rival sellers is especially vigorous.The products of rival sellers are essentially identical and are readily available from several sellers.There are few ways to achieve product differentiation that have value to buyers.Buyers incur low costs in switching their purchases from one seller to another.The majority of industry sales are made to a few, large- volume buyers.Industry newcomers use introductory low prices to attract buyers and build a customer base.
15Concepts and Connections 5 Concepts and Connections 5.1 How Walmart Managed Its Value Chain to Achieve a Low-Cost Advantage Over Rival Supermarket Chains
16Pitfalls to Avoid in Pursuing a Low-Cost Provider Strategy Overly aggressive price cuttingPrice cutting results in lower margins, no increase in sales volume, and lower profitabilityReliance on easily imitated cost reductionsBecoming too fixated on cost reductionIgnoring buyer interest in additional featuresOverlooking declining buyer sensitivity to priceDenying technological breakthroughs that will nullify cost advantages
17Broad Differentiation Strategies Powerful competitive approaches to use whenever buyers’ needs and preferences are too diverse to be fully satisfied by a standardized product or service.Involves incorporating differentiating features that cause buyers to prefer one firm’s brand, product, or service over those of its rivalsRequires not spending more to achieve differentiation than the price premium that customers are willing to pay for all the differentiating extras
18The essence of a broad differentiation strategy is to offer unique product or service attributes that a wide range of buyers find appealing and worth paying for.
19Benefits of Successful Differentiation Command a premium priceGain buyer loyalty to its brandSuccessful execution of a differentiation strategy allows a firm to:Increase its unit sales
20Approaches to Differentiation Unique taste: Red Bull, ListerineMultiple features: Microsoft Office, Apple iPhoneWide selection and one-stop shopping: Home Depot, Amazon.comSuperior service: Ritz-Carlton, NordstromSpare parts availability: CaterpillarEngineering design and performance: Mercedes-Benz, BMWLuxury and prestige: Rolex, Gucci, ChanelProduct reliability: Johnson & JohnsonQuality manufacture: Michelin in tires, Honda in automobilesTechnological leadership: 3M CompanyFull range of services: Charles Schwab in stock brokerageComplete line of products: Campbell soups, Frito-Lay snack foods
21Delivering Superior Value via a Differentiation Strategy Include product attributes and user features that lower the buyer’s costs.Incorporate tangible features that improve product performance.Incorporate intangible features that enhance buyer satisfaction in noneconomic ways.
22Managing the Value Chain in Ways That Enhance Differentiation Manufacturing activitiesDistribution and shipping activitiesMarketing, sales, and customer service activitiesActivities that Enhance DifferentiationSupply chain activitiesProduct R&DProduction R&D and technology-related activities
23Perceived Value and the Importance of Signaling Value The price premium commanded by a differentiation strategy reflects actual value delivered and value perceived by the buyer.Buyers seldom pay for value that is not perceived.Important to signal value when:Nature of differentiation is subjectiveBuyers are making first-time purchasesRepurchase is infrequentBuyers are unsophisticated
24When a Differentiation Strategy Works Best Buyer needs and uses of the product are diverse.There are many ways to differentiate the product or service that have value to buyers.Few rival firms are following a similar differentiation approach.Technological change is fast-paced and competition revolves around rapidly evolving product features.
25Pitfalls to Avoid in Pursuing a Differentiation Strategy Pursuing a differentiation strategy keyed to product or service attributes that are easily and quickly copied.Incorporating product features or attributes in which buyers see little value or are easily copied by rivals.Overspending on efforts to differentiate.Over-differentiating so that product quality or service levels exceed buyers’ needs.Trying to charge too high a price premium.Not opening up meaningful gaps in quality or service or performance features over the products of rivals.
26Focused (or Market Niche) Strategies Reflect a concentration on a narrow piece of the total market defined by geographic uniqueness or special product attributes.Appeal to smaller and medium-sized firms that may lack the breadth and depth of resources to tackle going after a whole market customer base.
27A Focused Low-Cost Strategy A focused strategy based on low cost aims at securing a competitive advantage by serving buyers in the target market niche at a lower cost and a lower price than rival competitors.Avenues to achieving cost advantage are the same as for low-cost leadership—out-manage rivals in keeping costs low and bypassing or reducing nonessential activities.
28Concepts and Connections 5.2 Vizio’s Focused Low-Cost Strategy
29Focused Differentiation Strategy Keyed to offering carefully designed products or services to appeal to the unique preferences and needs of a narrow, well-defined group of buyers (as opposed to a broad differentiation strategy aimed at many buyer groups and market segments).
30Concepts and Connections 5 Concepts and Connections 5.3 Nestlé Nespresso’s Focused Differentiation Strategy in the Coffee IndustryNestlé’s strategy in the gourmet coffee industry has allowed its Nespresso brand of espresso coffee to become the fastest-growing billion-dollar brand in its broad lineup of chocolates and confectionery, bottled waters, coffee, ready-to-eat cereals, frozen food, dairy products, ice cream, and baby foods. The Nespresso concept was developed in 1986 to allow consumers to create a perfect cup of espresso coffee, equal to that of a skilled barista, with the use of a proprietary line of coffeemakers designed to accommodate Nespresso’s single-serving coffee capsules.Nespresso capsules were available in 16 different roasts and aromatic profiles and could be purchased online at Nestlé’s Nespresso Club website, in any of Nestlé’s 200 lavish Nespresso boutiques located in the world’s most exclusive shopping districts, and in select upscale retailers across the globe. Nespresso coffee machines were designed for ease-of-use while having advanced technological features that maximized the aroma of the coffee and automated the entire process even down to creating a thick and creamy froth from cold milk for cappuccinos. Nespresso coffeemakers also set standards for aesthetics with classic, sleek models, avant-garde models, and retro-modern models.The ease-of-use of the stylish Nespresso coffeemakers and the high-quality coffee selected by Nestlé for its single-serving coffee pods allowed coffee drinkers with little experience in preparing gourmet coffees to master great-tasting lattes, cappuccinos, and espresso drinks. Nespresso was sold in more than 50 countries in 2011 and had averaged annual growth in revenues of 30 percent since 2000 to reach sales of more than $3 billion Swiss francs in 2010.Nestlé’s focus differentiation strategy for Nespresso includes the following primary elements:Unsurpassed product quality and proven coffee expertise.Unstoppable drive for innovation and distinctive design.Inspirational, iconic global reputation of the brand.Global brand community thanks to direct customer relationships.Exclusive routes to market.Expertise in sustainable quality development.Source: Nestlé press releases, June 9, 2009; September 21, 2009; and August 11, 2010.
31When a Focused Low-Cost or Focused Differentiation Strategy Is Viable The target market niche is big enough to be profitable and offers good growth potential.Industry leaders have chosen not to compete in the niche— focusers can avoid battling head-to-head against the industry’s biggest and strongest competitors.It is costly or difficult for multisegment competitors to meet the specialized needs of niche buyers and at the same time satisfy the expectations of mainstream customers.The industry has many different niches and segments, thereby allowing a focuser to pick a niche suited to its resource strengths and capabilities.Few, if any, rivals are attempting to specialize in the same target segment.
32The Risks of a Focused Low-Cost or Focused Differentiation Strategy Competitors find effective ways to match a focuser’s capabilities in serving the target niche.The preferences and needs of niche members shift over time toward the product attributes desired by the majority of buyers.The segment may become so attractive it is soon inundated with competitors, intensifying rivalry and splintering segment profits.
33Best-Cost Provider Strategies Are a hybrid of low-cost provider and differentiation strategies that:Involves giving customers more value for money by satisfying buyer expectations on key quality/features/ performance/service attributes and beating customer expectations on price.Is a powerful competitive approach with value- conscious buyers looking for a good-to-very-good product or service at an economical price.Creates a “best-cost” status as the low-cost provider of a product or service with upscale attributes.
34Best-cost provider strategies are a hybrid of low-cost provider and differentiation strategies that aim at satisfying buyer expectationson key quality/features/performance/ service attributes and beating customer expectations on price.
35Concepts and Connections 5 Concepts and Connections 5.4 Toyota’s Best-Cost Producer Strategy for Its Lexus Line
36Employing Best-Cost Strategies Best-cost strategies are contingent on:A superior value chain configuration that eliminates or minimizes activities that do not add valueUnmatched efficiency in managing essential value chain activitiesCore competencies that allow differentiating attributes to be incorporated at a low cost
37When a Best-Cost Provider Strategy Works Best A best-cost provider strategy works best in markets where:Product differentiation is the norm.The market is comprised of large numbers of value- conscious buyers attracted to economically priced midrange products and services, especially during recessionary times.A provider can offer either a medium-quality product at a below-average price or a high-quality product at an average or slightly higher-than-average price.
38The Danger of an Unsound Best-Cost Provider Strategy Vulnerability to both low-cost providers and high-end differentiators in not having the requisite core competencies and efficiencies in managing value chain activities to offer significantly differentiating product attributes or features at attractive lower prices without significantly increasing costs.
39Successful Competitive Strategies Are Resource Based Low-Cost ProvidersMust have the resources and capabilities to keep costs below those of competitorsMust have expertise to cost-effectively manage value chain activities better than rivalsDifferentiatorsMust have the resources and capabilities to incorporate unique attributes that a broad range of buyers will find appealing and worth paying for
40Successful Competitive Strategies Are Resource Based (cont’d) Narrow Segment FocusersMust have the capability to do an outstanding job of satisfying the needs and expectations of niche buyersBest-Cost ProvidersMust have the resources and capabilities to incorporate upscale product or service attributes at a lower cost than rivals
41Perils of a “Stuck in the Middle” Strategy Compromise strategies can result in middle-of-the-pack industry rankings and, at best, average performance due to:An average cost structureMinimal product differentiation relative to rivalsAn average image and reputationLimited prospect of industry leadershipCompromise or middle-ground strategies rarely produce sustainable competitive advantage