Project 1 Scenario Transcript

Although you’ve been considering leaving your current job at the global conglomerate Colossal Corporation to pursue a startup with colleagues, you find out that one of Colossal’s subsidiaries that you used to work for, Maryland Creative Solutions (MCS), has not only been revamped, but is seeking to fill some of its new executive positions. You are pleasantly surprised when you get an offer back to the company, and because the group is within Colossal’s network, the job transfer goes through smoothly and with a relatively quick negotiation.

Within weeks, you are back with the Baltimore-based consulting company, MCS. You are saddened to find out that your past superior, Frank Marinara, will not be returning to the company; however, you have heard great things about the new CEO, Jillian Best. As a part of the MCS reboot, Jillian has repositioned and resourced the company to target consulting clients in need of digital strategy and marketing.

Once you have had a few days to settle in, Jillian invites you to a meeting to go over objectives and provide you with your first client.


For this project, you will need to have a solid understanding of your client’s consumers in order to develop, evaluate, and implement effective marketing strategies. You have two weeks to finish and should aim to complete all seven steps in this project by the end of Week 2 of the course:

  • Step 1: Complete Your Skills Gap Analysis
  • Step 2: Attend Meeting with ACME
  • Step 3: Review Marketing Information on Consumer Buying Behavior
  • Step 4: Conduct a Consumer Buying Behavior Study
  • Step 5: Complete Your Value Proposition
  • Step 6: Complete Your Final Consumer Buying Behavior Report
  • Step 7: Submit Your Work

If you have any questions, ask your instructor. To get started, click Step 1: Complete Your Skills Gap Analysis.


Your work will be evaluated using the competencies listed below.

  • 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
  • 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
  • 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
  • 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
  • 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.
  • 6.1: Identify the general (external) environment in which an organization operates and discuss the implications for enterprise success.
  • 6.2: Evaluate strategic implications for domestic and international markets of an organization’s industry.
  • 6.4: Develop and recommend strategies for an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.
  • 12.2: Analyze marketing information.

Step 1: Complete Your Skills Gap Analysis

INBOX: 1 New Message

From: D. Ch., HR Specialist, MCS

To: You


We are asking all MCS employees to complete a skills gap analysis.

Use this skills gap analysis instrument to self-evaluate your knowledge and skills before beginning your assignment. Select the Project 1 worksheet in the bottom left of the file to complete this step.

When you have completed your self-evaluation, use the text box at the bottom of the worksheet to write a reflection of 400–500 words describing two to three gaps you will work to reduce, why you selected them, and the activities you will pursue to develop your selected competencies.

Thank you for your attention to this request,


Submit your preliminary skills gap analysis to the submission dropbox located in the final step of this project. In the next step, you will start to review the basics of marketing and consumer buying behavior.      

Step 2: Attend Meeting with ACME

Monday morning, you meet with Jillian in her office. “We are so glad that you have come back to help us grow at Maryland Creative Solutions,” Jillian says. “As you know, with shifting markets, I have decided to reposition the company to focus more on clients with branding and digital strategy consulting needs. I feel that your long-term knowledge of our company and global mindset are perfect for leading the way on some of our new projects.

“To get you started, we have just signed on with ACME. I would like you to meet with their leadership: Tarek Fahmy, the company’s head of new-product innovation, and ACME’s CEO, Erik Knops, to finalize the details of their request. Again, it is a pleasure to be working with you. I am really looking forward to seeing your creative approaches in our partnerships.”

Calendar Invite: Startup Meeting with ACME

Client Name:

Meeting Organizer: Jillian

Attendees: You, Erik, Tarek

Click to attend the ACME meeting  

After the meeting, proceed to Step 3 to enhance your knowledge about concepts relevant to ACME’s request.

Step 3: Review Marketing Information on Consumer Buying Behavior

Required Readings

Chapters 2 & 13

Lancaster, G., & Massingham, L. (2018). Essentials of marketing management (2nd ed.). Routledge

As you read through the course materials, begin to think about how this information will apply to the report you will prepare for Erik and Tarek. To successfully complete the report, you’ll need an understanding of marketing. You will also benefit from a keen understanding of consumer buying behavior, and evaluating business attractiveness

As you conduct your analysis of ACME’s consumer environment, remember that there are two types of market research: primary and secondary research. Both types of research are required in real-life, and each of them has its pros and cons. However, for this Project, only secondary research is required.

Finally, to fully understand ACME’s position, read about offerings—what a company provides its customers, be it a product, a service, or a mix of both. Also consider the differences between a product and a service. You know that a product can be more than just a physical good, it can be a service attached to a physical product, a “pure” service, an idea, a place, an organization, or even a person.

After you have read these materials, proceed to the next step, where you will begin your analysis of the specified consumer markets




One of the most important functional areas in business is marketing, as it deals with customers more than any other function. Companies such as Google, Swiss Bank, Deutsche Bank, Gucci, Airbus, Apple, McDonalds, and Toyota have a passion for understanding their customers and satisfying their needs in “well-defined target markets” (Kotler & Armstrong, 2014, p. 4). Basically, marketing is a managerial and social function through which companies and consumers create and exchange value.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” (AMA, 2013, para. 1).

Kotler and Armstrong (2014) define marketing as the “process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return” (p. 5).

On the other hand, Kotler and Keller (2015) define marketing management as the science and art of selecting target markets, and the practice of acquiring, maintaining, and growing customers through the creation, delivery, and communication of superior customer value—all while maintaining profitability.

Remember, marketing is not selling; selling is just a component of marketing!

The Marketing Process

Selecting a product or a service to develop is a demanding process that requires cross-functional teams to research, select, develop, and launch new products. In addition, the company needs to evaluate the attractiveness of a new business. Sometimes the company may seek external help to develop a new product, as it may lack the necessary technical expertise, market knowledge, or resources, or may simply want to spread the financial risk involved (i.e., open innovation, or innovation using strategic alliances.)

The marketing process involves five steps (Kotler & Armstrong, 2014, p. 5):

  1. understanding the marketplace and consumer needs and wants
  2. designing a consumer-driven marketing strategy
  3. constructing an integrated marketing program that delivers superior value
  4. building profitable relationships and creating consumer satisfaction
  5. capturing value from customers to create profits and customer equity

To effectively engage in the marketing process, a business needs to understand the following elements:

  1. consumers
  2. how to acquire market knowledge (primary and secondary research)
  3. how to turn that knowledge into products that are needed and wanted by a group of consumers
  4. how to create market offerings that not only create value for the consumer but profitability for the organization
  5. how to accomplish these tasks while being socially responsible and engaging in ethical behavior

Furthermore, there are five major customer value themes (Kotler & Armstrong, 2014, p. XVI):

  1. creating value for the consumer in order to capture value from them in return
  2. creating and managing strong local and global value-creating brands
  3. capitalizing on new marketing technologies, such social media (i.e., digital marketing)
  4. assessing and managing return on marketing investment
  5. sustainable global marketing


AMA. (2013). Marketing definition. Retrieved from

Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2014). Principles of marketing (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2015). Marketing management (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


Learning Topic

Consumer Buying Behavior


Marketers should have a thorough understanding of how their “consumers think, feel, and act” and must offer a clear value to each target consumer (Kotler & Keller, 2015, p. 157). Consumer buying behavior is the “the study of the process involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires” (Solomon, 2017, p. 6). Consumer buying behavior is strongly influenced by personal, cultural, and social factors. Of these, cultural factors have the most profound influence. Accordingly, marketers pay close attention to the cultural values of consumers in their markets to promote sales of their current products and identify opportunities for the future (Kotler & Keller, 2015).

Marketers should understand how their consumers make buying decisions and who is involved in such decisions. Consumer buying behavior is a five-step process that involves problem recognition, information search, evaluating alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior. Each step must be fully understood by the marketer. The five-step process does not necessarily occur in this sequence, and consumers may skip or reverse stages as they alternate between buying offline and online (Kotler & Keller, 2015). Brands play an important role in consumer buying behavior, conveying information about the product and reassuring the consumer’s buying decision (Marshall & Johnston, 2011).

The marketplace has been dramatically changing in the past decade thanks to advanced and cheaper communications technologies, which enable consumers to make better choices and share their buying experiences with others worldwide. The newly acquired consumer capabilities include the following (Kotler & Keller, 2015, pp. 16–17):

  1. Consumers are increasingly dependent on the internet to acquire information and make informed decisions when buying.
  2. Consumers search, communicate, and buy on the move.
  3. Consumers tap into social media to exchange opinions and express loyalty.
  4. Consumers are increasingly interacting with companies.
  5. Consumers may reject marketing efforts if they find them inappropriate.
  6. Consumers can easily shift brands if they believe that they have not been treated fairly by a certain company.

Consumer behavior is also characterized by the actions that individuals take in buying and using products or services, including the “mental and social processes that come before and after these actions” (Kerin & Hartley, 2017, p. 123). A study of consumer buying behavior is important in helping companies plan and execute better business strategies (Khaniwale, 2015). Social norms and situational factors often influence a buyer’s final decision. Where group pressures to comply are strong, influence from social norms is expected to override multi-attributed evaluation. The force of social norms involves two aspects: (1) social forces, or pressures and normative suggestions, and (2) motivation to comply, or the willingness to listen to others (Johansson, 2009).

The country-of-origin effect also plays a role in the buying decision. This term refers to the impact a branded product or service’s perceived country of origin has on customers (for example, “made in” labels). Products or services from countries with a positive image tend to be favorably evaluated, while those from countries of lesser status tend to be downgraded. For example, the entry of Japanese cars into the United States in the 1970s was more a product of positive associations with Japan rather than with specific firms. American drivers sought to buy a Japanese car, and not necessarily a Datsun (now Nissan) or a Toyota. Evidence suggests that this effect, which influences sales, does not stop over time (Johansson, 2009).

The growth of multinational production has changed the importance consumers ascribe to “made in” labels. The perception of Sony is unlikely to change, regardless of where its product is produced. The influence of the country-of-origin effect also depends on whether or not the country in question produces at widely different quality levels. For example, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland have very high quality standards in general, which help to guarantee the quality of their products, and Korea seem to be working on joining this group. However, products from the United States, Italy, and China have widely varying quality levels, which can make it harder to judge quality based on the “made in” label alone (Johansson, 2009).


Johansson, J. (2009). Global marketing (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Kerin, R., & Hartley, S. (2017). Marketing (13th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Khaniwale, M. (2015). Consumer buying behavior. International Journal of Innovation and Scientific Research, 14(2), 278–286.

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2015). Marketing management (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Marshall, G. W., & Johnston, M. W. (2011). Essentials of marketing management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Solomon, M. (2017). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


Learning Topic

Evaluating Business Attractiveness


Markides (1997) suggested that when evaluating business attractiveness, an organization should ask six questions:

  • What could the organization do better than any of its competitors in its existing markets?
  • What are the strategic resources required to succeed in the new market?
  • Can the organization leapfrog or catch the competition?
  • Would diversification break up the organization’s strategic assets that may need to be kept together?
  • Will the organization be a winner in the new business or just another player?
  • And finally, what can the organization learn by entering into the new business, and will it be able to learn from it?

The economist and business strategist Michael Porter summarized the above questions in the form of three tests that an organization should use when entering into a new business (de Kluyver & Pearce II, 2012, p. 168):

  • the attractiveness test—Is the industry that the organization wants to enter fundamentally attractive from a competitive, growth, and profitability perspective, or can the organization make it favorable?
  • the cost of entry test—Are the costs of entry into the new business reasonable? Is the time frame needed to achieve profitability acceptable? Are the associated risks tolerable?
  • the better-off test—Does the new business improve the organization’s overall business portfolio performance and competitiveness?


de Kluyver, C. A., & Pearce II, J. A. (2012). Strategy: A view from the top (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall–Pearson.

Markides, C. C. (1997). To diversify or not to diversify. Harvard Business Review, 75(6), 93–99. Retrieved from

Learning Topic

Primary and Secondary Research


The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines marketing research as follows: “the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information—information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications.” (AMA, 2013, para. 2)

There are two types of research (Marshall & Johnston, 2011):

  • primary research—Data is collected specifically for a certain research question, (i.e., primary data). Data may be quantitative (statistical analysis), or qualitative (e.g., surveys, focus groups, and interviews). Primary research is important when making strategic decisions. While primary research is costly and more time consuming, it is more accurate and reliable.
  • secondary research—Data was collected for some other purpose than the research question at hand. Secondary research may involve an internet search, periodicals, CRM data, government sources (e.g., economic census), and market research organizations. Secondary data is cheaper to obtain and is less time consuming to use because it is readily available; however, it may be outdated or unreliable. In addition, secondary research may not be a perfect fit for the research question. In general, primary research usually starts with a scan of the available secondary information to help further refine the search.


AMA (2013). Marketing research definition. Retrieved from

Marshall, G. W., & Johnston, M. W. (2011). Essentials of marketing management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


Learning Topic



Why do buyers purchase something? Why do you own anything? Many of us own an iPhone because it allows us to call, text, and use apps. Or we own one because we have been influenced to buy one. Shortly after the iPhone’s introduction, some people undoubtedly purchased the devices because they were considered trendy. Now iPhones are so ubiquitous that no one gives them a second glance. The impact that iPhones have had on our lives has been huge because the product revolutionized the way we interact with the world.

What Composes an Offering?

People buy things to meet needs. In the case of the iPhone, the need is to have better access to communicate, to look keep up with technological trends, or both. Offerings are products and services designed to deliver value to customers—either to fulfill their needs, satisfy their wants, or both. By the end of this text, we will understand how marketing fills those needs through the creation and delivery of offerings.

Product, Price, and Service

Most offerings consist of a product, or a tangible good people can buy, sell, and own. Purchasing a classic iPod, for example, will allow you to store up to 40,000 songs or 200 hours of video. The amount of storage is an example of a feature, or characteristic of the offering. If your playlist consists of 20,000 songs, then this feature delivers a benefit to you—the benefit of ample storage. However, the feature will only benefit you up to a point. For example, you won’t be willing to pay more for the extra storage if you only need half that much. When a feature satisfies a need or want, there is a benefit. Features, then, matter differently to different consumers based on each individual’s needs.

Remember, the value equation is different for every customer.

An offering also consists of a price, or the amount people pay to receive the offering’s benefits. The price paid can consist of a one-time payment, or it can consist of something more than that. Many consumers think of a product’s price as only the amount they paid. However, the true cost of owning an iPod, for example, is the cost of the device itself plus the cost of the music or videos downloaded onto it. The total cost of ownership (TCO), then, is the total amount someone pays to own, use, and eventually dispose of a product.

TCO is usually thought of as a concept that businesses use to compare offerings. However, consumers also use the concept. For example, suppose you are comparing two sweaters, one that can be hand-washed and one that must be dry-cleaned. The hand-washable sweater will cost you less to own in dollars but may cost more to own in terms of your time and hassle. A smart consumer would take that into consideration. A TCO approach accounts for the time and effort related to owning the product—in this case, the time and effort to handwash the sweater.

service is an action that provides a buyer with an intangible benefit. A haircut is a service. When you purchase a haircut, it’s not something you can hold, give to another person, or resell. Pure services are offerings that don’t have any tangible characteristics associated with them. Skydiving is an example of a pure service. You are left with nothing after the jump but the memory of it. Yes, a plane is required, and it is certainly tangible. But it isn’t the product—the jump is. At times people use the term product to mean an offering that’s either tangible or intangible. Banks, for example, often advertise specific types of loans, or financial products they offer consumers. Yet truly these products are financial services. The term product is frequently used to describe an offering of either type.

The intangibility of a service creates interesting challenges for marketers and buyers when they try to judge the relative merits of one service over another. An old riddle asks, “You enter a barbershop to get a haircut and encounter two barbers—one with a bad haircut and the other with a great haircut. Which do you choose?” The answer is the one with the bad haircut; he cut the hair of the other barber. But in many instances, judging how well a barber will do before the haircut is difficult. Thus, services can suffer from high variability in quality because they are often created as they are received.

Services usually also require the consumer to be physically present or involved. A haircut, a night in a hotel, and a flight all require the consumer to be physically present. Consumption of the service is not separate from the creation of the service. Unlike a physical product, which can be created and purchased off a shelf, a service often (but not always) involves the consumer in its creation.

Another challenge for many services providers is that services are perishable—they can’t be stored. A night at a hotel, for example, can’t be saved and sold later. If it isn’t sold that day, it is lost forever. A barber isn’t really paid for a haircut (to use the riddle) but for time. Services have difficult management and marketing challenges because of their intangibility.

Many tangible products have an intangible service component attached to them, however. When Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduced its first piece of audio testing equipment, a key concern for buyers was the service HP could offer with it. Could a new company such as HP back up the product, should something go wrong with it? As you can probably tell, a service does not have to be consumed to be an important aspect of an offering. HP’s ability to provide good after-sales service in a timely fashion was an important selling characteristic of the audio oscillator, even if buyers never had to use the service.

What services do you get when you purchase a can of soup? You might think that a can of soup is as close to a pure product devoid of services that you can get. But think for a moment about your choices in terms of how to purchase the can of soup. You can buy it at a convenience store, a grocery store, or online. Your choice of how to get it is a function of the product’s intangible service benefits, such as the way you are able to shop for it.

The Product-Dominant Approach to Marketing

From the traditional product-dominant perspective of business, marketers consider products, services, and prices as three separate and distinguishable characteristics. To some extent, they are. HP could, for example, add or strip out features from a piece of testing equipment and not change its service policies or the equipment’s price. The product-dominant marketing perspective has its roots in the Industrial Revolution. During this era, businesspeople focused on the development of products that could be mass produced cheaply. In other words, firms became product-oriented, meaning that they believed the best way to capture market share was to create and manufacture better products at lower prices. Marketing remained oriented that way until after World War II.

The Service-Dominant Approach to Marketing

Who determines which products are better? Customers do, of course. Thus, taking a product-oriented approach can result in marketing professionals focusing too much on the product itself and not enough on the customer or service-related factors that customers want. Most customers will compare tangible products and the prices charged for them in conjunction with the services that come with them. In other words, the complete offering is the basis of comparison. So, although a buyer will compare the price of product A to the price of product B, in the end, the prices are compared in conjunction with the other features and services of the products. The dominance of any one of these dimensions is a function of the buyer’s needs.

The advantage of the service-dominant approach is that it integrates the product, price, and service dimensions of an offering. This integration helps marketers think more like their customers, which can help them add value to their firm’s products.

In addition to the offering itself, marketers should consider what services it takes for the customer to acquire their offerings (e.g., the need to learn about the product from a sales clerk), to enjoy them, and to dispose of them (e.g., someone to move the product out of the house and haul it away), because each of these activities creates costs for their customers—either money or time and hassle.

Critics of the service-dominant approach argue that the product-dominant approach also integrated services (though not price). The argument is that at the core of an offering is the product, such as an iPod or iPhone. The physical product, in this case an iPhone, is the core product. Surrounding it are services and accessories, called the augmented product, which support the core product. Together, these make up the complete product. One limitation of this approach has already been mentioned; price is left out. But for many “pure” products, this conceptualization can be helpful in bundling different augmentations for different markets.

Customers are now becoming more involved in the creation of benefits. Consider a “pure” product like Campbell’s cream of chicken soup. The consumer may prepare that can as a bowl of soup, but it could also be used as an ingredient in a recipe like king ranch chicken. As far as the consumer goes, no benefit is experienced until the soup is eaten; thus, the consumer played a part in the creation of the final product when the soup was an ingredient in the king ranch chicken recipe. Or suppose your school’s cafeteria made king ranch chicken for you to consume. In that case, you both ate a product and consumed a service.

Some people argue that focusing too much on the customer can lead to too little product development or poor product development. These people believe that customers often have difficulty seeing how an innovative new technology can create benefits for them. Researchers and entrepreneurs frequently make many discoveries, and then products are created as a result of those discoveries. 3M’s Post-it notes are an example. The adhesive that made it possible for Post-it notes to stick and restick was created by a 3M scientist who was actually in the process of trying to make something else. Post-it notes came later.

Product Levels and Product Lines

A product’s technology platform is the core technology on which it is built. Take for example, the iPod, which is based on MP3 technology. In many cases, the development of a new offering is to take a technology platform and rebundle its benefits in order to create a different version of an already-existing offering. For example, in addition to the iPod Touch, Apple offers the Shuffle and the Nano. Both are based on the same core technology.

In some instances, a new offering is based on a technology platform originally designed to solve a different problem. For example, a number of products originally were designed to solve the problems facing NASA’s space-traveling astronauts. Later, that technology was used to develop new types of offerings. EQyss’s Micro Tek pet spray, which stops pets from scratching and biting themselves, is an example. The spray contains a trademarked formula developed by NASA to decontaminate astronauts after they return from space.

A technology platform isn’t limited to tangible products. Knowledge can be a type of technology platform in a pure services environment. For example, the bioesthetic treatment model was developed to help people who suffer from TMJ, a jaw disorder that makes chewing painful. A dentist can be trained on the bioesthetic technology platform and then provide services based on it. There are, however, other ways to treat TMJ that involve other platforms or bases of knowledge and procedures (such as surgery).

Few firms survive by selling only one product. Most firms sell several offerings designed to work together to satisfy a broad range of customer needs and desires. A product line is group of related offerings. Product lines are created to make marketing strategies more efficient. Campbell’s condensed soups, for example, are basic soups sold in cans with red labels. But Campbell’s Chunky is a ready-to-eat soup sold in cans that are labeled differently. Most consumers expect there to be differences between Campbell’s red-label chicken soup and Chunky chicken soup, even though they are both made by the same company.

When new but similar products are added to the product line, it is called a line extension.

A product line can be broad, as in the case of Campbell’s condensed soup line, which consists of several dozen different flavors. Or, a product line can be narrow, as in the case of Apple’s iPod line, which consists of only a few different devices. The number of offerings in a single product line—that is, whether the product line is broad or narrow—is called line depth. When new but similar products are added to the product line, it is called a line extension. If Apple introduces a new iPhone to the iPhone family, that would be a line extension. Companies can also offer many different product lines. Line breadth (or width) is a function of how many different, or distinct, product lines a company has. For example, Campbell’s has a Chunky soup line, condensed soup line, kids’ soup line, lower sodium soup line, and a number of nonsoup lines, like Pace Picante sauces, Prego Italian sauces, and crackers. The entire assortment of products that a firm offers is called the product mix.

There are four offering levels:

  • the basic offering (e.g., the iPod Shuffle)
  • the offering’s technology platform (the MP3 format or storage system used by the Shuffle)
  • the product line to which the offering belongs (Apple’s iPod line of MP3 music players)
  • the product category to which the offering belongs (MP3 players as opposed to iPhones)

Key Points

Companies market offerings composed of a combination of tangible and intangible characteristics for certain prices. During the Industrial Revolution, firms focused primarily on products and not so much on customers. The service-dominant perspective to marketing integrates three different dimensions of an offering—not only the product, but also its price and the services associated with it. This perspective helps marketers think more like their customers, which helps firms add value to their offerings. An offering is based on a technology platform, which can be used to create a product line. A product line is a group of similar offerings. A product line can be deep (many offerings of a similar type) and/or broad (offerings that are very different from one another and cover a wide range of customers’ needs). The entire assortment of products that a company offers is called the product mix.

Types of Consumer Offerings

Consumer offerings fall into four general categories:

  • convenience offerings
  • shopping offerings
  • specialty offerings
  • unsought offerings

In this section, we will discuss each of these categories. Keep in mind that the categories are not a function of the characteristic of the offerings themselves. Rather, they are a function of how consumers want to purchase them, which can vary from consumer to consumer. What one consumer considers a shopping good might be a convenience good to another consumer.

Convenience Offerings

Convenience offerings are products and services consumers generally don’t want to put much effort into shopping for because they see little difference between competing brands. For many consumers, bread is a convenience offering. A consumer might choose the store in which to buy the bread but be willing to buy whatever brand of bread the store has available. Marketing convenience items is often limited to simply trying to get the product in as many places as possible where a purchase could occur.

Closely related to convenience offerings are impulse offerings, or items purchased without any planning. The classic example is Life Savers, originally manufactured by the Life Savers Candy Company, beginning in 1913. The company encouraged retailers and restaurants to display the candy beside their cash registers and to always give customers a nickel back as part of their change to encourage them to buy one additional item—a roll of Life Savers, of course!

Shopping Offerings

shopping offering is one for which the consumer will make an effort to compare and select a brand. Consumers believe there are differences between similar shopping offerings and want to find the right one or the best price. Buyers might visit multiple retail locations or spend a considerable amount of time visiting websites and reading reviews about the product, such as the reviews found in Consumer Reports.

Consumers often care about brand names when they’re deciding on shopping goods. If a store is out of a particular brand, then another brand might not do. For example, if you prefer Crest Whitening Expressions toothpaste and the store you’re shopping at is out of it, you might put off buying the toothpaste until your next trip to the store. Or you might go to a different store, or buy a small tube of some other toothpaste until you can get what you want. Note that even something as simple as toothpaste can become a shopping good for someone very interested in dental health—perhaps after they’ve read online product reviews or consulted with her dentist. That’s why companies like Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crest, work hard to influence not only consumers but also people like dentists, who can influence the sale of their products.

Specialty Offerings

Specialty offerings are highly differentiated offerings, and the brands under which they are marketed are very different across companies, too. For example, an Orange County Chopper or Iron Horse motorcycle is likely to be far different than a Kawasaki or Suzuki motorcycle in terms of its available features. Typically, specialty items are available only through limited channels. For example, exotic perfumes available only in exclusive outlets are considered specialty offerings. Specialty offerings are purchased less frequently than convenience offerings. Therefore, the profit margin on them tends to be greater.

Note that while marketers try to distinguish between specialty offerings, shopping offerings, and convenience offerings, it is the consumer who ultimately makes the decision. Therefore, what might be a specialty offering to one consumer may be a convenience offering to another. For example, one consumer may never go to Sport Clips or Ultra-Cuts because hair styling is seen as a specialty offering. A consumer at Sport Clips might consider it a shopping offering, while a consumer for Ultra-Cuts may view it as a convenience offering. The choice is the consumer’s.

Marketing specialty goods requires building brand name recognition in the minds of consumers and educating them about your product’s key differences. This is critical. For fashion goods, the only point of difference may be the logo on the product (for example, an Izod versus a Polo label). Even so, marketers spend a great deal of money and effort to try to get consumers to perceive these products differently than their competitors’.

Unsought Offerings

Unsought offerings are those that buyers do not generally want to have to shop for until they need them. Towing services and funeral services are generally considered unsought offerings. Marketing unsought items is difficult. Some organizations try to presell the offering, such as preneed sales in the funeral industry or towing insurance in the auto industry. Other companies, such as insurance companies, try to create a strong awareness among consumers so that when the need arises for these products, consumers think of their organizations first.

Key Points

Convenience offerings, shopping offerings, specialty offerings, and unsought offerings are the major types of consumer offerings. Convenience offerings often include life’s necessities (bread, milk, fuel, and so forth), for which there is little difference across brands. Shopping goods vary, and many consumers develop strong preferences for some brands versus others. Specialty goods are even more exclusive. Unsought goods are a challenge for marketers because customers do not want to have to shop for them until they need them.

Types of Business-to-Business (B2B) Offerings

Just like there are different types of consumer offerings, there are different types of business-to-business (B2B) offerings as well. But unlike consumer offerings, which are categorized by how consumers shop, B2B offerings are categorized by how they are used. The primary categories of B2B offerings are as follows:

  • capital equipment offerings
  • raw materials offerings
  • original equipment manufacturer (OEM) offerings
  • maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) offerings
  • facilitating offerings

Capital Equipment Offerings

capital equipment offering is any equipment purchased and used for more than one year and depreciated over its useful life. Machinery used in a manufacturing facility, for example, would be considered capital equipment. Professionals who market capital equipment often have to direct their communications to many people within the firms to which they are selling, because the buying decisions related to the products can be rather complex and involve many departments. From a marketing standpoint, deciding who should get what messages and how to influence the sale can be very challenging.

Raw materials offerings are materials firms offer other firms so they can make a product or provide a service. Raw materials offerings are processed only to the point required to economically distribute them. Lumber is generally considered a raw material, as is iron, nickel, copper, and other ores. If iron is turned into sheets of steel, it is called a manufactured material because it has been processed into a finished good but is not a standalone product; it still has to be incorporated into something else to be usable. Both raw and manufactured materials are then used in the manufacture of other offerings.

Raw materials are often thought of as commodities, meaning that there is little difference among them. Consequently, the competition to sell them is based on price and availability. Natuzzi is an Italian company that makes leather furniture. The wood Natuzzi buys to make its sofas is a commodity.

OEM Offerings or Components 

An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a manufacturer or assembler of a final product. An OEM purchases raw materials, manufactured materials, and component parts and puts them together to make a final product. OEM offerings or components, like an on-off switch, are components, or parts, sold by one manufacturer to another that get built into a final product without further modification. The metal feet of a Natuzzi couch are probably made by a manufacturer other than Natuzzi, making the feet an OEM component. Dell’s hard drives installed in computer kiosks like the self-service kiosks in airports that print your boarding passes are another example of an OEM component.

MRO Offerings

Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) offerings refer to products and services used to keep a company functioning. Janitorial supplies are MRO offerings, as is hardware used to repair any part of a building or equipment. MRO items are often sold by distributors. However, you can buy many of the same products at a retail store. For example, you can buy nuts and bolts at a hardware store. A business buyer of nuts and bolts, however, will also need repair items that you don’t, such as very strong solder used to weld metal. For convenience sake, the buyer would prefer to purchase multiple products from one vendor rather than driving all over town to buy them. So, the distributor sends a salesperson to see the buyer. Most distributors of MRO items sell thousands of products, set up online purchasing websites for their customers, and provide a number of other services to make life easier for them.

Facilitating Offerings

Facilitating offerings include products and services that support a company’s operations but are not part of the final product it sells. Marketing research services, banking and transportation services, copiers and computers, and other similar products and services fall into this category. Facilitating offerings might not be central to the buyer’s business, at least not the way component parts and raw materials are. Yet to the person who is making the buying decision, these offerings can be very important. If you are a marketing manager who is selecting a vendor for marketing research or choosing an advertising agency, your choice could be critical to your personal success. For this reason, many companies that supply facilitating offerings try to build strong relationships with their clients.

Key Points

Business buyers purchase various types of offerings to make their own offerings. Some of the types of products they use are raw materials, manufactured materials, and component parts and assemblies, all of which can become part of an offering. MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) offerings are those that keep a company’s depreciable assets in working order. Facilitating offerings are products and services a company purchases to support its operations but are not part of the firm’s final product.

Managing the Offering

Managing a company’s offerings presents a number of challenges. Depending on the size of the company and the breadth of the company’s offerings, several positions may be needed.

A brand manager is one such position. A brand manager is the person responsible for all business decisions regarding offerings within one brand. By business decisions, we mean making decisions that affect profit and loss, which include such decisions as which offerings to include in the brand, how to position the brand in the market, pricing options, and so forth.

A brand manager is often charged with running the brand as if it were its own separate business.

A brand manager is much more likely to be found in consumer marketing companies. Typically, B2B companies do not have multiple brands, so the position is not common in the B2B environment. What you often find in a B2B company is a product manager, someone with business responsibility for a particular product or product line. Like the brand manager, the product manager must make many business decisions, such as which offerings to include, advertising selection, and so on. Companies with brand managers include Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Kraft, Target, General Mills, and ConAgra Foods. Product managers are found at Xerox, IBM, Konica-Minolta Business Solutions, Rockwell International, and many others.

Most brand managers have an undergraduate degree in marketing, but it helps to have a strong background in either finance or accounting because of the profitability and volume decisions brand managers have to make.

In some companies, a category manager has responsibility for business decisions within a broad grouping of offerings. For example, a category manager at SC Johnson may have all home cleaning products, which would mean that brands such as Pledge, Vanish, Drano, Fantastik, Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Shout would be that person’s responsibility. Each of those brands may be managed by a brand manager who then reports directly to the category manager.

At the retail level, a category manager at each store is responsible for more than just one manufacturer’s products. The home cleaning category manager would have responsibility for offerings from SC Johnson, as well as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and many other producers.

Another option is to create a market manager, who is responsible for business decisions within a market. In this case, a market can be defined as a geographic market or region, a market segment such as a type of business, or a channel of distribution. For example, SC Johnson could have regional insect control managers. Regional market managers would make sense for insect control because weather has an influence on which bugs are a problem at any given time. For example, a southern regional manager would want more inventory of the repellent Off! in March because it is already warm and the mosquitoes are already breeding and biting in the southern United States.

In B2B markets, a market manager is more likely to have responsibility for a particular market segment, (e.g., hospital health care professionals or doctor’s offices). All customers like these (retail, wholesale, and so forth) in a particular industry compose what’s called a vertical market, and the managers of these markets are called vertical market managers. B2B companies organize in this way for the following reasons:

  • Buying needs and processes are likely to be similar within an industry.
  • Channels of communication are likely to be the same within an industry but different across industries.

Because magazines, websites, and trade shows are organized to serve specific industries or even specific positions within industries, B2B marketers find vertical market structures for marketing departments to be more efficient than organizing by geography.

Market managers sometimes report to brand managers or are a part of their firms’ sales organizations and report to sales executives. Market managers are less likely to have as much flexibility in terms of pricing and product decisions and have no control over the communication content of marketing campaigns or marketing strategies. These managers are more likely to be tasked with implementing a product or brand manager’s strategy and be responsible for their markets. Some companies have market managers but no brand managers. Instead, marketing vice presidents or other executives are responsible for the brands.

Key Points

Brand managers decide what products are to be marketed and how. Other important positions include category managers, market managers, and vertical market managers. Category managers are found in consumer markets, usually in retail. Market managers can be found in both consumer markets and B2B markets. However, vertical market managers are found only in B2B markets. Some companies have market managers but no brand managers. Instead, a vice president of marketing or other executive is responsible for the brands.

Licenses and Attributions

Chapter 6: Creating Offerings from Marketing Principles is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license without attribution as requested by the site’s original creator or licensee. UMGC has modified this work and it is available under the original license.

Learning Topic

Differences between a Product and a Service


Although a service may be viewed as a product and vice versa, the two are distinguished by several characteristics. Services are characterized by the following attributes (Johansson, 2009):

  • intangibility—You cannot easily touch a service. Services are difficult to monitor at borders and hard to assess for customs duty.
  • heterogeneity—A service is not exactly the same each time, especially personal services. Services are less standardized than products and quality varies.
  • inseparability—Services are produced when they are consumed. Service quality depends on situation and context.
  • perishability—You cannot store a service, unless the service is embodied in a product (e.g., a DVD or an ATM).

The entry barriers in global markets for services are greater than for products, but exit barriers are lower (Johansson, 2009):

  • Local regulations vary widely across countries.
  • Local service businesses are typically protected.
  • Cultural barriers tend to be higher.
  • Intangibility makes trade monitoring difficult.
  • Free-trade agreements are hard to complete and enforce.
  • Without trade agreements, governments have no incentive to make regulations more homogeneous.

Quality can be hard to define when it comes to global services (Johansson, 2009):

  • Since services are intangible, service quality is difficult to quantify.
  • Different cultures have different habits and preferences, and therefore have different definitions of service quality.
  • Culture strongly affects perceived service quality and customer satisfaction.
  • What is considered high service quality in one country may not necessarily be perceived as high in another.


Johansson, J. (2009). Global marketing (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Step 4: Conduct a Consumer Buying Behavior Study

INBOX: 1 New Message

From: Tarek Fahmy, Head of New Product Innovation, ACME

To: You

How are things going?

As previously mentioned, I would like you to conduct an analysis of the consumers in our main markets. Your analysis should consider both current and potential product users and should address the following questions:

  1. What needs are being met by the product purchase? What are the benefits to the consumers? Make sure that you differentiate between features and benefits; go beyond manifest motives and consider latent motives.
  2. Who is involved in the purchase process? Who are the influencers? Who are the buyers? Who are the end users?
  3. Where are the products sold, and what are the distribution channels?
  4. How often are the products purchased? Is there seasonality to sales?

Deliverable: By the end of Week 1, I need you to produce a six-page preliminary consumer buying behavior report (excluding cover page, reference list, tables, graphs, and exhibits) explaining your findings on consumer needs, wants, and preferences in these markets. Make sure that your report is specific to consumers of ACME’s potential product and not to consumers in general.

Support your work with the course readings and at least two scholarly sources and eight reliable nonscholarly sources, such as Reuters, Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance,,, MoneyForbesFortune, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Harvard Business Review, as well as the UMGC Library databases, such as Hoover’s and ABI/INFORM. All sources need to be cited using APA formatting, both within the text and in the reference list. The report should be organized using headings and subheadings to improve its readability.

Expecting your best efforts on this,


Follow the instructions in the final step of this project to submit your report to the Assignments folder. Then proceed to the next step, where you will create a value proposition.

Early in Week 2, submit a one-page value proposition to Erik.

INBOX: 1 New Message

From: Erik, CEO, ACME

To: You

Just a quick note,

I wanted to clarify that a customer-focused value proposition explains the reason why a customer purchases a product or uses a service (i.e., the value that a company delivers to its customers).

Deliverable: Based on your research of consumer needs in our main markets, describe your value proposition, or the benefits that ACME and its potential new product would provide to customers. Remember, a value proposition is essentially the promise that is made to the customer. Also provide a half-page recommendation to ACME on whether or not to manufacture that product.

Support your work with the course readings, scholarly sources, and reliable nonscholarly sources, such as Reuters, Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance,,, MoneyForbesFortune, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Harvard Business Review, as well as the UMGC Library databases, such as Hoover’s. All sources need to be cited using APA formatting, both within the text and in the reference list. The value proposition should be organized using headings and subheadings to improve its readability.

I know these are tight turnarounds, but I have no doubt you’ll knock this out,


Submit your report to the Assignments folder. In the next step you will finalize your consumer buying behavior report and write an executive summary.

Learning Topic

Value Proposition


Companies address their customers through their value proposition, which is the totality of the benefits offered to satisfy customer needs and wants. The product or service will only be successful if it delivers value and satisfies the target customer. In other words, the value proposition is more than just the core positioning of the product or service; it represents the whole set of benefits that a company promises to deliver. Accordingly, astute product or service positioning will result in a successful customer-focused value proposition (i.e., a clear reason why the target customers should buy the offering) (Kotler & Keller, 2015).


Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. (2015). Marketing management (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.


·       Step 6: Complete Your Final Consumer Buying Behavior Report

  • Deliverable: By the end of Week 2, combine the first two deliverables into a single report after making any necessary corrections, and edit them to ensure that there is clear flow of ideas from one section to the other. In addition, include a one-page executive summary that highlights the most important findings of the report; as well as your recommendation as a consultant at the end of the report. APA style should be applied to in-text citations and in the reference list.
  • Your final report to Erik should be eight to nine pages, excluding cover page, executive summary, the reference list, and appendices. Any graphs, tables, and figures should be included as appendices. Your report should have one-inch margins and be double spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font. The report should be organized using headings and subheadings to improve its readability.
  • Submit your report to the Assignments folder.

Step 7: Submit Your Work

By the end of Week 2, submit your final consumer buying behavior report to the Assignments folder. Take note of the recommended delivery dates and file-naming protocols in the table below:

Recommended Project Delivery
StepSubmission WeekDeliverableFile-naming protocol/Submission instructions
Step 1Week 1Skills gap analysislastname_MBA640Week1SkillsGap_date.docx
Step 4Week 1Preliminary consumer buying behavior reportlastname_PrelimBuyingBehavior_date.docx
Step 5Week 2Value proposition and recommendationlastname_ValueProposition _date.docx
Step 6Week 2Final consumer buying behavior reportlastname_FinalBuyingBehavior_date.docx

Check Your Evaluation Criteria

Before you submit your assignment, review the competencies below, which your instructor will use to evaluate your work. A good practice would be to use each competency as a self-check to confirm you have incorporated all of them. To view the complete grading rubric, click My Tools, select Assignments from the drop-down menu, and then click the project title.

  • 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
  • 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
  • 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
  • 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
  • 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.
  • 6.1: Identify the general (external) environment in which an organization operates and discuss the implications for enterprise success.
  • 6.2: Evaluate strategic implications for domestic and international markets of an organization’s industry.
  • 6.4: Develop and recommend strategies for an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.
  • 12.2: Analyze marketing information.

Take Action

Submit your assignment to your instructor for review and feedback.

Follow these steps to access the assignment:

  • Click My Tools in the top navigation bar.
  • Click Assignments.
  • Select the relevant assignment.

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