Market research provides relevant data to help solve marketing challenges that a business will most likely face--an integral part of the business planning process. In fact, strategies such as market segmentation (identifying specific groups within a market) and product differentiation (creating an identity for a product or service that separates it from those of the competitors) are impossible to develop without market research.
Strategic planning focuses on the 3C's, namely: Customer, Corporation and Competitors. A detailed analysis of each factor is key to the success of strategy formulation. The 'competitors' element refers to an analysis of the strengths of the business relative to close rivals, and a consideration of competitive threats that might impinge on the business' ability to move in certain directions. The 'customer' element refers to an analysis of any possible changes in customer preferences that potentially give rise to new business opportunities. The 'corporation' element refers to a detailed analysis of the company's internal capabilities and its readiness to leverage market-based opportunities or its vulnerability to external threats.
Mintzberg suggests that the top planners spend most of their time engaged in analysis and are concerned with industry or competitive analyses as well as internal studies, including the use of computer models to analyze trends in the organization. Strategic planners use a variety of research tools and analytical techniques, depending on the environment complexity and the firm's goals. Fleitcher and Bensoussan, for instance, have identified some 200 qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques regularly used by strategic analysts while a recent publication suggests that 72 techniques are essential. No optimal technique can be identified as useful across all situations or problems. Determining which technique to use in any given situation rests with the skill of the analyst. The choice of tool depends on a variety of factors including: data availability; the nature of the marketing problem; the objective or purpose, the analyst's skill level as well as other constraints such as time or motivation.
In 1980, Michael Porter developed an approach to strategy formulation that proved to be extremely popular with both scholars and practitioners. The approach became known as the positioning school because of its emphasis on locating a defensible competitive position within an industry or sector. In this approach, strategy formulation consists of three key strands of thinking: analysis of the five forces to determine the sources of competitive advantage; the selection of one of three possible positions which leverage the advantage and the value chain to implement the strategy. In this approach, the strategic choices involve decisions about whether to compete for a share of the total market or for a specific target group (competitive scope) and whether to compete on costs or product differences (competitive advantage). This type of thinking leads to three generic strategies:
He is the co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.