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MKT 303: Honors Marketing Theory & Practice

Specific Environments

This section requires that you compare the total population to the population of the type of product users and to the population of the users of your brand.  You must understand your product or service well enough to decide if the product/service is used by households or by individuals.  Demographic information for most durable goods and financial services make more sense to have by households (example: washing machines).

  • Frequently requested social indicators and other federal statistics:
    • Fedstats (gateway to federal statistics)
  • Population and household information includes the total population for the target geographic area (usually the entire US) plus population information arranged by
    • age, ethnic, racial, religious, language, and/or gender groups;
    • education and/or income levels;
    • birth, death, marriage, and/or divorce rates;

           BEST SOURCES:

This section requires that, as non-economists, you will rely on the articles written by economists for the newspapers. Each month the US Government releases many economic indicators. This assignment specifically needs the CPI (Consumer Price Index), Consumer Confidence, credit card usage (Consumer Installment Credit), and Savings rate.  The Federal Reserve changes in interest rate do have an important impact on consumer loans, but also has a significant impact on the availability of credit for the company.

For your 5 year trend of these indicators, use the analysis in the January issues of the newspapers for the last 5 years plus the monthly analysis for every month since January.  These articles are not indexed very well, so by relying on the approximate release date (there is a 5 day window of earliest & latest release dates) for each economic indicator, browse the first page of the Wall Street Journal for those dates for every January and the other months.

To see tables of the statistics without much commentary:

    * BEST SOURCES:
          o Economic Indicators   
                  Census Economic Indicators
          o PollingReport.com -- Economic Outlook and page 2
          o USA.gov statistics (gateway to federal statistics)
          o Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2013-
                  not this year's data, data always 1-2 years behind current year.
          o Economic Outlook in Standard & Poor's Netadvantage 
          o Fedstats  (gateway to federal statistics)

When considering economics, think about your product and its "essentialness". Land line telephones were once essential as were radios and broadcast TV antenna. Would your product survive the next economic downturn? How well did your product do in the last downturn? Is your product counter cyclic -- does well in downturns (the vices do)?

The information needed to support your interpretation of what you find and to comment on your brand's (or company's, if no brand specific information found) reactions to these situations and trends come from articles indexed in the databases ABI/Inform &  Business Insights: Global.

   1. Articles for this section are also found in more specialized indexes.  Use the industry,  product class name, commodity, or type of packaging/manufacturing process. Bioengineering, genetics, farming, etc. can be new commercial technologies for some products.
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Biological Sciences Database.
                o Compendex/Inspec

   2. For this class, the cost and availability of commodities should be limited to the PRIMARY raw material (commodity) of your product not all the ingredients that might go into it. Consider if your ingredients must be imported from other countries and how that might be affected by the weather, politics, or war. Concentrate on the pattern of cost & availability of the commodity over the last 5 years.

      If your product has plastic as a main component, you may need to contact the company to find out what type of plastics or polymers are used in your product.  Many plastics are made from crude oil. If this is the case, then whatever happens to the world oil situation will impact your product.
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Commodity Prices -- see the Library Guide for Supply Chain Management
                o  Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2013-
                              Older online editions
                              Print: 1878-2012 Hayden US Documents C 3.134:  Other ASU Library HA 202 .A388 
                              MF editions: Hayden & West HA 214 .S788x FICHE fiche# ASI  year 2324-1 1979-1998
                                  Indexed in ProQuest Statistical Insight

   3. Ideally you will find articles that talk about your brand's role in ecology and pollution, but most teams will find that pollution and conservation, if they are discussed at all, are discussed at the corporate level.
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Annual Report of your company
                o Sustainability pages on the company web site (if any)
                o Advertisements: Examples of pollution and conservation are most readily seen in advertisements by oil companies and chemical & pharmaceutical companies. (eg. "Making the world a better place...")
                o Industrial accidents/disaster articles found by using various news sources, ABI/Inform, and Business Insights: Global
                o Social Responsibility, Ecology, and Sustainability

   4. Technological/ecologcial changes to product classes and in manufacturing processes are often found in articles, but without the background on the process itself it may be hard to tell. To get background infomation:
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology Online
                o How products are made : an illustrated guide to product manufacturing Online 
                o Pesticide manufacturing and toxic materials control encyclopedia (TP 248 .P47 S52 1980 Noble 3rd Floor)

The information needed to support your interpretation of what you find and to comment on your brand's (or company's, if no brand specific information found) reactions to these situations and trends come from articles indexed in the databases ABI/Inform & Business Insights: Global.

   1. Technological/ecologcial changes to product classes and in manufacturing processes are often found in articles, but without the background on the process itself it may be hard to tell. To get background information:
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology Online
                o How products are made : an illustrated guide to product manufacturing Online 
                o Pesticide manufacturing and toxic materials control encyclopedia (TP 248 .P47 S52 1980 Noble 3rd Floor)

   2. Your brand or company position in new technologies may only be found indirectly by looking through periodical indexes for openings of new facilities (plants), except office space.
          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Business Insights: Global

   3. Consider if generic substitutes can replace your product. (happens most frequently in a slow economy.) The "generic" term can be very, very broad. (example: walking or bicycling instead of driving)  A substitute is anything that can be used instead of your product. Don't forget that it is possible to refuse & do without nearly any specific product or service. Watch out for products that could be unused if social values changed. (Perfume use declined with increased bathing and the use of deodorants.  What if society gave them up?)  Laws can also change the use or availability of products and substitutes.

This section is researched by looking at the state and federal agencies the govern that industry. There usually is more than one agency that monitors your industry. Which  agencies are needed depends on the product. You will have clues to what you need by the information on the company's web page under the "About Us" or the "Investor Relations" web pages. Don't forget that your company may not have lawsuits, but your competitor might. These often have industry impact.  Product recalls are always part of this section.  Political and legal issues can arise for the component parts of your product or for any part of the company. Any product made from crude oil (fabrics, food additives, emulsifiers, many plastics) automatically has political issues. Check the Social Responsibility, Ecology and Sustainability LibGuide for any of those issues that could have impact here. 

  1. USA.gov  (gateway to federal agencies and information)
     
  2. For pending or new laws and legislation on the Federal level:

             * BEST SOURCES
                   o ProQuest Congressional
                           Do NOT read the hearings. The summary provided in the index is sufficient for this project. 
                   o PAIS International

   3.   State level discussions on these public policy issues are of interest for this assignment only because some states are leading
         the national discussion. Most projects will not need this. Should you need this:

             * Stateline.org: Your Source for State News (Pew Center on the State)
             * LexisNexis State Capital


    4.   Any lawsuit or government agency (usually FDA, CDC, USDA, EPA, FTC, FCC) action is automatically of interest in this section. 
         These actions almost always have economic and financial impacts. There may also be cultural or social ramifications. Federal
         agency acronyms can be searched as keywords.  Check your company's name, any brand names, and the industry
         (both broad and narrow, for example, the industries for Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser industries are beverages, alcohol, malt beverages, and beer)

             * BEST SOURCES:
                   o The databases listed in the Recommended Databases box on the MKT 302 Home page. 
                        I especially recommend the Business Insights: Global because, when you click on the company name 
                        in the company profile, they have a tab just for Legal issues.

This section requires that you look in the indexes for terms such as fashion trends, health, physical fitness, etc. Most of what goes in this area is NOT found by using the company name or the industry. Hot social issues such as animal rights, employee rights, and consumer issues can be used in this section if your company is embroiled in the public debate.

Not everyone will find articles telling you the current public attitude towards your company or product unless there has been a recent negative incident: oil spills (Exxon), blackouts (electrical utilities), financial problems (Apple), poisoning (Pepsi, Tylenol), etc. There are positive articles, usually related to a good deed, charity project, gift or grant of the company, but good news is written about much less frequently.

          * BEST SOURCES:
                o Popular Culture & Current Events 
                       Popluar Magazines
                           Academic Search Premier
                           Nexis Uni
                           Consumer Magazines in SRDS.cam (Kantar Media) check to see which popular magazines are read by your target market 
                       News & newspapers (a list of all newspaper databases from the 1700s-)
                           ProQuest News & Newspapers
                           Access World News
                o Social Responsibility, Ecology, and Sustainability

Don't forget that a general search with your broad industry plus the phrase "consumer trends" can get you articles about the general situation:

           (footwear or shoes) AND "consumer trends"

           (footwear or shoes) AND trends

           "fashion trends"

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