Read the case thoroughly. Define the problem in the case and think of a solution to fixed it. There is no right or wrong answers and try to think outside of the box.
Grading will be based on the quality of organization, clarity of explanations, logic of analysis, thoroughness of analysis, justification of the recommendations, quality of illustrations, practicality of recommendations, and professional format.
Papers should not exceed 10 typed double-spaced pages, including exhibits. Please do not bind your reports in folders. Plain white paper fastened together with a staple in the upper left-hand corner is sufficient.
How to Perform a Marketing Case Analysis
A marketing case is a description of a business in which some organization is attempting to create or enhance an exchange relationship with a group of customers. These descriptions are usually both quantitative and verbal. The description is a collection of facts, opinions, and other bits of data, some of which are more relevant and reliable than others. While the description is most always incomplete, you must recommend some course of action for the organization.
To write a good case analysis, you must first construct a model of the situation (your definition of the problem). You construct this model from the relevant facts you find in the case and from the relationships among those facts that you are able to discern. If you overlook relevant facts and/or fail to recognize some key relationships among the facts, your model will be inaccurate and the resulting analysis flawed. Following are some rules that may help you develop a good working model (i.e., define the problem) of the situation and write an appropriate and compelling analysis.
RULE #1: KNOW THE CASE FACTS. Read the case, as many times as necessary. Underline, take notes, and do whatever is necessary to register the facts in your mind. Actively look for relationships (logical or casual connections) among the facts. This is an active, creative, and effortful process that is essential for producing a good model of the case situation.
RULE #2: ACTIVELY LOOK FOR CONNECTIONS AMONG THE FACTS. Discerning relationships among relevant facts is the key to defining the problem (constructing your model). There are really only two kinds of marketing problems: 1. occurs when a firm has been doing something (trying to sell a new product) and the results are unsatisfactory (nobody buys it); and 2. a firm wants to do something (introduce a new product) but is uncertain about what needs to be done to get satisfactory results. Despite the fact that there are only 2 types of marketing problems, they occur in endless variety and they are usually quite complex. For this reason it is difficult to describe a marketing problem with precision. However, if your description or model fits reality too poorly, the course of action you recommend will likely be inappropriate.
RULE #3: DEFINE THE PROBLEM AS PRECISELY AS POSSIBLE. The best way to define a marketing problem is in terms of controllable marketing variables that are either: 1. incorrectly set or adjusted (first type of marketing problem), or 2. inadequately specified (second type of marketing problem). Thus, “falling sales” is a poor statement of the problem. “The product fails to satisfy changed customer needs” is better. The ability to make precise and appropriate statements of marketing problems is a practiced art, accomplished with hard work and smarts.
RULE #3A: DEFINE THE PROBLEM AS PRECISELY AS POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF THE MALADUJUSTMENT OR UNDERSPECIFICATION OF CONTROLLABLE MARKETING PROBLEMS. Why is this a good idea? Because the marketing manager takes action by changing or specifying one or more controllable marketing variables. The manager can do nothing else. Thus, your recommendation to the manager must be made in terms of controllable variables for it to be of actionable value.
What are controllable variables?
• Marketing Objectives
• Marketing Strategies
• Marketing Mix and in a supporting role
• Marketing Information
• Marketing Organization
These variables are manipulated in such a way that is intended to adapt successfully to the conditions imposed by a set of uncontrollable variables that include:
• Macro environmental variables (economic, political, legal, social, cultural and technological factors)
Together, these sets of controllable and uncontrollable variables provide a checklist for describing the firm’s situation and identifying its marketing problems.
RULE #4: USE THE CONTROLLABLE AND UNCONTROLLABLE MARKETING VARIABLE CATEGORIES TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR THINKING ABOUT THE SITUATION AND THE MARKETING PROBLEMS. If you have defined the marketing problem(s) appropriately, the task of proposing a course of action is greatly simplified. However, in all instances you will probably recognize that several alternatives appear plausible. Do not exclude plausible alternatives from your analysis so as too severely limit your choice.
In the end, of course, you must pick a single alternative course of action. In doing this you must present a rationale that demonstrates convincingly why the alternative you selected is the superior one. This rationale may involve economics (more profit), risk (higher probability of success or less financial exposure), strategic considerations (more compatible with the firm’s image or less vulnerable to competitive reaction) or, as is usually the case, some combination of all of these.
RULE #5: ATTEMPT TO RECOGNIZE ALL PLAUSIBLE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS.
RULE #6: CHOOSE THE ONE ALTERNATIVE YOU BELIEVE IS BEST AND JUSTIFY YOUR CHOICE.
FORMAT FOR WRITTEN CASE ANALYSIS
Sections of the Analysis (in order):
• Executive Summary
• Problem Definition
• Analysis of Alternatives
• Plan Development
This section should define the problem, state the chosen alternative, and briefly explain why the chosen alternative is the superior alternative. The Executive Summary should not contain background material from the case. Write the Executive Summary for your audience – the executives of the company. They are, of course, well-informed about the situation. This section will usually be only 2 or 3 paragraphs in length.
Problem Statement and Statement of Alternatives
Adequately and appropriately defining the problem is the key to the case analysis. A problem definition should be framed as a decision to be made. Therefore, “sales have fallen off” is not a properly defined problem. The problem should not be defined so narrowly that good alternative courses of action are not considered. Therefore, “should we increase advertising” is too narrowly defined to result in a thoughtfully considered decision. The problem definition should contain three key elements: decision objectives; success measures; and decision constraints. For example: how can we maintain our quality brand image (objective); and regain our lost market share (success measure); given limited funds for advertising and sales promotion (constraint)?
This section should identify the alternative courses of action to be investigated. This section should also list the major dimensions, or states of nature in a decision theory framework, of the decision (i.e., those factors on which the choice of an alternative will largely depend). These states of nature are uncertain and, for the most part, are uncontrollable: competitor actions, consumer needs and response, and turns in the economy are examples. The potential payoff of any alternative depends on the “true” state of nature. This section will most likely be about 1 page in length.
Analysis of Alternatives
This section may contain qualitative as well as quantitative analyses. In a decision theory sense, this section seeks to calculate the expected payoff of each alternative. Therefore, you must sift through the case information to find those pieces of information relevant to the decision to be made. Here, you are really constructing the states of nature, estimating probabilities of the state of nature, determining cell payoffs, and calculating the expected values of each alternative. It is proper to place actual calculation, exhibits, etc. in the appendices and simply refer to your findings in the body of the paper. This section will ultimately identify the chosen alternative strategy or course of action. This section will normally be 2 to 3 pages in length.
Once the alternative strategy is selected, you must develop a plan for its implementation. Basically, this involves specifying the marketing mix to be employed. This section will be 1 to 2 pages in length.
Guidelines for Marketing Case Analysis
This is meant to be a guide for analyzing case situations and preparing a written report of your analysis and conclusions. It is not meant to impose rigid standards for your assignments but provide help to you in organizing them.
Function of a Case:
Cases serve at least four functions. It is important to understand these in order to assess their value to you in studying Marketing. In general, cases will:
• Build familiarity with management, company, and industry problems.
• Develop confidence in your ability to think like a manager.
• Develop a growing understanding of the relationships between marketing management problems and the other functional areas of the business.
• Build additional skills in written and oral communication.
What is a case?
A case is a statement of facts, opinions, and judgments that are more or less relevant to an actual business situation in which a problem exists and a decision must be made. A problem exists when business facts, opinions, and judgments are in conflict. Most cases are real business situations, that is they are based upon problems and events that actually took place, although they may be disguised as to the actual names of the people companies and locations in which they took place.
Analysis of Cases:
The following are a few general comments relevant to the analysis of a case:
• Read the case carefully and distinguish between what are the facts of the case and what are the judgments and opinions of the people involved in the case. You cannot change the facts of the case, but you can read between the lines and question the judgments and opinions. Sometimes what is stated as fact is merely an opinion.
• Your objective is to learn through exploration, discussion and argument in as logical a framework as possible. There are no clear-cut solutions to be found. There is no correct answer! The actions of the managers described in the case may or may not illustrate the proper handling of marketing problems, good analysis of relevant data, etc. You must decide what is good and what is bad. You must support your decisions with facts and logical argument based on sound marketing and financial reasoning , where applicable.
• Often you will want further information or data in evaluating a case situation. This lack of complete information mirrors the real life situation that the managers in the case have faced. One of the key things that a marketer must learn is how to operate as effectively as possible given less than perfect information and conditions. One of the decisions that you may make is that further research to accumulate more information is needed to address your problem. Now you must ask the question of whether the expense of gathering that information will be worth the additional expenditure of time and resources or will you be better off making a decision based on the information that you have. Gathering more information is acceptable under the proper circumstances but is never acceptable as an excuse to avoid grappling with the problem or adequately analyzing the information that you already have. When you do recommend further primary research, be sure to specify the information that you desire, how it can be obtained, and how it will improve your decision making.
• Be familiar with all of the material that you are given in the case. Reading the case more than one time will generally help you to digest the details more thoroughly. Be prepared to make reasonable inferences from the information contained in the case.
• By all means discuss the cases outside of class to get feedback on your ideas from others in the class. Remember that we are trying to learn this material by actively presenting interpretations of the situation and evaluating more than one possible solution.
Discussion of Cases:
If the case is to be discussed in class, be prepared to present and defend your thinking. If a conflicting viewpoint to yours is being presented by other students question them and reconcile their thinking with your own. Do not accept another viewpoint as being correct because it is the one being presented or the one that has gained popular support unless you have been convinced of the logic behind it. Consideration of alternative issues will only help all participants in the case discussion reach a sensible consensus conclusion of a course of action.
Discussion of issues should be conducted in a civil, non confrontational manner. Treat other discussants with the same respect that you would like to receive. You are encouraged to disagree, but to do so in an appropriate manner.