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Marks and Spencer is a public limited company with many retail stores in the UK and across other countries engaging in the sale of clothes, house wear, and food products (luxurious) (Marks and Spencer 2011). Entering an international market is a complex marketing activity that requires the marketing management of a business to carry out market analysis and come up with a marketing plan to determine whether the business should enter the foreign market or not. Therefore, this paper will be reporting on the situational analysis involving plans for Marks and Spencer PLC to set up stores in France. We will be taking an analysis of key elements that are likely to affect the company in the new market and how prepared the company is for the new market (Taylor 2007).

Analysis of the target marketing environment

Competitor analysis

Being one of the European countries, the French market contains other foreign retailers like Zara and Esprit which are well established stores and provides a series of products in the market. According to my inquiries, I found out that these stores are established as trend setters in the French market as far as fashion is concerned (Carr 2007). They are termed as either middle or high positioned market stores with a fairy well established customer base and loyalty. This is a very important market finding that should be put into consideration by M & S plc. Being foreign retailers, the above mentioned stores have established strategies to out-compete existing clothing industries in the market through provision of products that are of affordable price with quality advantage. It is their image as ‘fast movers’ that makes these industries thrive in the French market and out-compete local existing clothing and luxury food stores. They also have the ability to re-position or renew their existing products in a spontaneous and continuous manner and this keeps them in a position to incite customers to regularly go for fashion products (Sheldrake 2000).

Other high/medium retail stores present in the French market include Camapeu, Etam, and Promod just to name a few. The problem with these retailers is that they have been deprived of their positions as leaders in the market and are struggling to maintain market shares in line with the sub sector of outwear for women. The French local stores have dominated the subsections of both men and children outwear in the French market (Freeman 2003). Therefore, the level of competition in the French market, as far as clothing and food industry is concerned, is quite high. M & S only needs to capitalize of the mentioned weakness and maximize on available opportunities that will enable it thrive in the market. For instance, M & S should introduce new products in the market (food, clothing and home wear) which are more appealing and fashionable than those of existing stores (Armstrong 2009).

Market analysis

The market consists of varying forms of products including food, clothing and other out wears. M & S can capitalize on the use of online shopping, product differentiation and marketing mix to increase sales and establish a strong customer base in the new market (Ursula 2001).

Pest analysis

Political and legal analysis  

Considering political and legal arena, it will be of great importance for M & S to operate in line with existing policies governing the French market. Among the policies that have to be considered include adherence to tax payment procedures, obtaining of an operating license, as well as deterrence from illegal products such as GMOs. It has to make sure that the products are meeting international as well as local quality standards through certification and standardization marks for easy market access and acceptance.

Economic analysis

The French economy is the second well established after Germany in the European territory. M & S will therefore be entering an economy with high trading power and high GDP and this will be an opportunity to make business profitable and employ local citizens for income (Donaghy 2005).

Social analysis

In the French scenario, potential customers (men, women and children) are striving and looking for products (clothes) that will make them look presentable and fashionable. M & S has the potential to provide presentable, colorful and fashionable clothes and other home wears for children, men as well as women in the market (Gennard 2005).

Technological analysis

In order to thrive in the new market, M & S should come up with new skills, ideas and technologies to establish a strong customer base and enhance market growth. Among the possible technologies, skills and ideas include establishment of online shopping, acceptance of credit cards and allowing shopping over phone (Brown 2007).

Customer analysis

In order to thrive in the French market, M & S should provide exactly what customers request for (should be customer focused). This will call for carrying out of customer survey in the market to establish what consumers require on a regular basis once the stores are established. In order to retain customers, M & S should engage in sponsoring or organizing of social events like sports, campaigns and other social activities that are beneficial to the societies. It can also give seasonal sales on offer and discounts to attract and retain customers so as to establish a strong customer base and loyalty. M & S can also motivate customers by allowing them to shop in its stores via online services and over phone. Introduction of highly demanded products such as school uniform in the stores will also brings lots of potential and loyal customers from the market.

M & S is determined to offer value to our target customers and give them products which will satisfy their intended purposes with minimal complaints (Sheldrake 2007). We look forward to offering above standard products in the market in a consistent manner at rates which are affordable to our target customers. While in our stores, we seek to provide quality customer care that will see our customers leave our stores satisfied and willing to come back again. Our target customers should be fully aware that they will be having a full opportunity to establish a healthy relationship with us which will incorporate reliability when it comes to supplying them with products of their choice, efficiency as well as value for their cash and any other possible support that they may request for (Barton 2006).

Our key target customers in the French market are both local and foreign men, women and children looking for fashionable and presentable products in the sub sectors of clothing, food and home wear. We intend to target both rural and urban setting populations with more concentration on the rural setting because most of the existing stores have not capitalized in these rural settings.

The success factors

The fact that we will be targeting both rural and urban settings by offering quality, affordable and fashionable products gives us a competing advantage and enables us establish an environment which will take time for other competitors to establish in the market. The fact that we will be offering a wide variety of products with high class customer service, we are likely to remain in business through establishment of a strong customer base with desire to repeatedly visit our stores (customer loyalty). Lastly, we will be offering certified products in terms of quality and legal aspects and this will enhance acceptance of our products in the market and lead us to ultimate success (Holmes 2004).

SWOT Analysis

Marks and Spencer is looking forward to capitalize on the strengths and external opportunities available in the French market and at the same time formulate contingency plan to deal with or encounter any threats that are likely to be presented by the target market environment.

Strengths

M & S has a well established strategy to differentiate its products from those of the potential competitors in the market. The management and other staff members are well equipped with a diverse range of skills and expertise to conquer the target market. The staff members are also well motivated and trained to embrace a participative and strong working culture to promote the values of the brands and enhance overall success. The brands of the company to be introduced have got a well established reputation in origin markets and are likely to attract new guest customers in the new target market. This is likely to build a strong reputation in the market for reliability and customer loyalty purposes. Other strengths of the company include its current market position, and the quality aspects of products that it provides (Richter 2009).

Weaknesses

There is need for clear communication of the differentiation strategy to the outcasts of the target market so as to look unique from other players in the market. This calls for extra effort to enhance communication, promotions and marketing strategies available. Other stores in the market have well established and furnished stores equipped with all the necessary equipments and systems to facilitate the selling process. This requires M & S to set up more appealing stores in the region in order to attract customers. Other weaknesses of the company include slow reaction to changes in customer preferences and needs and lack of motivation to reflect its products on what current customers need (Richter 2009).

Opportunities

 M & S has the opportunity to establish a long term relationship with customers by ensuring constant supply of quality certified products with a price advantage, something that other existing stores have not capitalized on. Another opportunity is to highly invest in rural areas and set up stores to serve populations in the rural settings, something that other competitors have not capitalized on (most of the potential competitors have set their stores in urban areas). Other opportunities for the company include introduction of online shopping as well as shopping over phone which is not very common amongst the existing competitor stores. The company can also keep renewing the range of available wears, define target age and establish a more upbeat look of its stores than the ones provided by potential competitors in the target market. CRM systems can also be deployed by the company in the new target market to keep track of the changing needs and preferences of customers (Richter 2009).   

Threats

One of the threats likely to be encountered by M & S is entrance of similar brands of products into the market even after differentiation. This calls for M & S to be keen and be well equipped with alternatives to counteract such situations. Some competitors may also decide to enter the market and sell at an absolutely low price, run at loss, just to keep the company out of market. Other threats that are likely to face M & S include issues with economy (such as recession. inflation), loss of share in the market due to intense competition and emergence of cartels (Richter 2009).

External and internal factors

These are the factors that will influence how the company will operate in the target market environment. The macro-environmental issues will be the same for all players in the market unlike the micro-environmental issues. M & S is likely to be influenced by external factors such as tough conditions of trade, fast changing market, change in tastes and preferences of consumers, shortcomings facing the market economy, political and legal temperatures and operations strategies (competition). The company is also likely to face internal factors such as poor management which may lead to failure to timely recognize and act according to changing market trends and consumer preferences (Holmes 2008).

Conclusion

According my analysis as a consultant of M & S, I have arrived at a conclusion that the French market is a good investment opportunity for the company. This is because of the economic stability that provides a strong trading power for investors to thrive in the market economy and make profits. However, the company needs to be strategic in terms of both micro and macro environmental factors that are within the target market environment. All the company needs to do is to capitalize on the competitors’ weakness and utilize the available opportunities to establish a strong market share/base in the target market.

In this report, I have used a qualitative research model to present my research findings in situational analysis of M & S. This mode is quite friendly and relevant to this type of report because less quantitative forms of data are involved.

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