Strategic Choice

Strategic Choice



Strategic Choice

1.       Ansoff Matrix

1.1       Growth vector analysis: Ansoff

1.1.1    Ansoff (1957) argued that when a firm is planning its growth strategies, there should be a link between its current products and markets and its future products and markets. This link is necessary so that outsiders (for example, investors) can see in which direction the entity is moving. It also provides guidance to the entity’s own management.
1.1.2    The strategic direction a company can take is to move into new markets for its products or to develop new products.
1.1.3    Ansoff summarised the potential strategies for product-market development with a 2 × 2 matrix. It sometimes referred to as Ansoff’s growth vector matrix or product mission matrix.

1.2       Market penetration strategy

1.2.1    A market penetration strategy is sometimes called a ‘protect and build’ strategy.
1.2.2    With a market penetration strategy, an entity seeks to sell more of its current products in its existing markets. This strategy is a sensible choice in a market that is growing fast. With fast growth, all the companies competing in the same market can expect to benefit from the rising sales demand.
1.2.3    A market penetration strategy is more difficult to implement when the market has reached maturity, or is growing only slowly.
1.2.4    Kotler suggested that market penetration calls for aggressive marketing, and that there are three ways in which this strategy might be successful:
(a)        Persuade existing customers to use more of the product or service, and so buy more. This is a strategy based on trying to increase total market sales demand.
(b)        Persuade individuals who have not bought the product in the past to start buying and using the product. Marketing tactics for attracting new users might include advertising or special promotional offers. This is another strategy based on trying to increase total market sales demand.
(c)        Persuade individuals to switch from buying the products of competitors. This is a competitive strategy based on winning a bigger market share. This strategy has the obvious risk, however, that competitors will retaliate with their own marketing initiatives to win customers.


Example 1


A manufacturer of shower gel might decide on a market penetration strategy, by trying to persuade existing customers to take showers more often. One way of encouraging a change in the rate of usage would be to have a special promotional offer for a short period of time, such as ‘Buy one, get one free’.

However, offers such as ‘buy one, get one free’ can only be short-term marketing initiatives. If this tactic were turned into a longer-term strategy, the effect would be to reduce the selling price by 50% and the company would be pursuing a low price strategy. To succeed with this strategy it would need to become the least-cost producer in the market.

A market penetration strategy is a low-risk product-market strategy for growth, because unless the market is growing fast, it should require the least amount of new investment. However, there are some risks with this strategy.

  • If the company fails to increase sales, its business will have no strategic direction, and will suffer from ‘strategic drift’.
  • A strategic choice of ‘doing nothing new’ is a high-risk choice, because competitors are likely to be much more innovative and competitive.
  • The strategies selected by major competitors might be a threat, particularly if there is a ‘war’ to win customers from each other.


1.3       Market development strategy

1.3.1    Market development involves opening up new markets for existing products. Kotler suggested that there are two ways of pursuing this strategy:
(a)        The entity can start to sell its products in new geographical markets (through regional, national or international expansion).
(b)        The entity can try to attract customers in new market segments, by offering slightly differentiated versions of its existing products, or by making them available through different distribution channels.


Example 2


Case 1
A business entity specialising in making and selling a branded type of chocolate bar might develop its markets by offering the same product in new sizes:

  • a small size, to attract purchases by diet-conscious customers
  • a large size, to attract customers who might buy a chocolate bar as their lunch.

In this example, the target new market segments are segments differentiated by the ‘life style’ of the customer.

Case 2
Many farmers in the US who grow corn are starting to sell their produce to energy companies, which are making bio-fuels out of the corn to fuel motor engines.

The energy market is a new market segment for these farmers, who also continue to sell corn to food product manufacturers.

1.4       Product development strategy

1.4.1    Product development is a strategy of producing new products for an existing market. There are several reasons for choosing this strategy.
(a)        The business entity might have a strong brand name for its products, and it can extend the goodwill of the brand name to new products.
(b)        The entity might have a strong research and development department or a strong product design team.
(c)        The entity has to react to new technological developments by producing a new range of products or product designs.
(d)        The market has growth potential provided that new products are developed.
(e)        The entity wants to respond to a strategic initiative by a major competitor, when the competitor has developed a new product.
(f)        Customer needs might be changing, so that new product development is essential for the survival of the business.
1.4.2    Disadvantages of a product development strategy are that:
(a)        developing new products can be expensive
(b)        a large proportion of new products are unsuccessful.


Example 3


Case 1
Many food and drinks companies have adopted a strategy in recent years of developing ‘healthy foods’ and ‘diet’ drinks or ‘health drinks’.

They have often been able to use the strength of their existing brand name to persuade customers to buy their new products.

Case 2
In the UK, Tesco is the leading supermarket company. Its successful growth in the UK has been based partly on a product penetration strategy. The company has extended the range of goods it sells in its stores to include items such as clothing and domestic electrical equipment.

1.5       Diversification strategy

1.5.1    Diversification is a strategy of selling new products in new markets. A distinction can be made between:
(a)        concentric diversification (also called related or horizontal diversification), which means that the new product-market area is related in some way to the entity’s existing products and markets
(b)        conglomerate diversification, which means that the new product-market area is not related in any way to the entity’s existing products and markets.
1.5.2    Both forms of diversification are normally achieved in practice by means of an acquisition strategy (in other words, buying companies that already operate in the new product-market areas).

(a)        Concentric diversification

1.5.3    The aim of concentric diversification might be to use the entity’s existing technological know-how and experience is a related but different product-market area.


Example 4


A manufacturer of vacuum cleaners (e.g. Dyson in the UK) might diversify into the manufacture of washing machines.

An airline company might acquire an international chain of hotels. There could be obvious benefits from co-operation in providing good services to passengers and from cross marketing. Both are in the people/travel business so many corporate values could be shared and the brand strengthened.

A company selling men’s clothes by mail order might diversify into selling women’s clothes.

A company that provides driving lessons for learner drivers might expand into the market for providing driving lessons for advanced drivers.

(b)       Conglomerate diversification

1.5.5    The aim of conglomerate diversification is to build a portfolio of different businesses.
1.5.6    The reasoning behind this strategy might be as follows.
(a)        Diversification reduces risk. Some businesses might perform badly, but others will perform well. Taking the businesses as a diversified portfolio, the overall risk should be less than if the entity focused on just one business. However, this view is rejected by some business analysts, who argue that shareholders can themselves reduce risk if they want to, by spreading their investments in shares over different companies in different industry sectors. For a company in car manufacturing, diversifying into supermarkets is unlikely to be popular with shareholders who have carefully constructed a portfolio that suits their needs.
(b)        Diversification will save costs and generate ‘synergy’. (Synergy is the idea that 2 + 2 = 5.) But synergy can only occur if costs can be saved (for example by economies of scale) or there is some other beneficial linkage between the companies. However, if the companies are truly unrelated then it is not easy to see how synergy can be created. Purchases, manufacturing, customers and management will all be radically different.
(c)        An entrepreneurial management team should be able to succeed in any markets, and the entity therefore seizes different business opportunities whenever and wherever they arise. This is the only potentially valid argument for unrelated diversification, but it is only valid if the company taken over is not being managed well, or it holds undervalued assets that could be sold at a profit. If it is already well-managed, holds no under-valued assets and is taken over at a fair price, it is not clear where shareholder value can be added. All too often, new owners destroy value by meddling with an already successful business


Example 5


Management must select a strategy that they believe is best suited to the needs of the entity. The strategy they choose might differ from the strategy of close competitors. When two rival companies select different strategies, it will not necessarily be clear whose strategy is the most successful, particularly over the longer term.

An interesting example is the product-market strategy of PepsiCo compared with Coca-Cola. In 1996, Pepsico was struggling in its competition with Coca-Cola. Since then, PepsiCo has turned round its business and is currently larger than Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola remains predominantly a drinks business. Its strategy in recent years has been to expand its range of products for existing markets, and to develop more geographical markets. Coca-Cola has stronger markets outside the US than Pepsi for its carbonated drinks products.

In contrast, PepsiCo pursued a strategy of concentric diversification, in addition to product and market development within its existing drinks business. It successfully developed its existing snack foods business (Frito-Lay) and also purchased two businesses with strong nutritional food ranges – Quaker Oats and Tropicana juices.

1.6       Gap analysis

1.6.1    Gap analysis is a technique that might be used in strategic planning.
1.6.2    A gap is the difference between:
(a)        the position a business entity wants to be in by the end of the planning period, in order to meet its overall objectives, and
(b)        the position the entity is likely to be in if it does not have any new strategy or change in strategy.
1.6.3    The strategies selected for the planning period should be sufficient to close this strategic gap.
1.6.4    In the following diagram, the forecast of where the entity will be without any new strategies might be estimated by statistical forecasting methods, such as regression analysis. For simplicity, the forecast is a forecast of annual profit.
1.6.5    The corporate objectives are expressed in the same terms (in this example, profit). The strategic gap might be closed by a combination of product-market strategies.


Example 6


Fine China is a manufacturer of high-quality dinner services (plates, saucers, bowls, cups, saucers etc) and has a dominant position at the high-quality end of its national market. The market is in a slow decline.

Management is considering its strategies for the future. The aim is to achieve a 5% average annual growth in the entity’s share price over the next five years.


Suggest briefly a strategy that the entity might adopt if its strategic direction is:

  • market penetration
  • product development
  • market development
  • diversification.



Market penetration

Aim to win more share of the existing market, possibly by means of a takeover (acquisition of a competitor’s business).

Product development

Aim to develop new products for the same market. This might be achieved by developing lower-quality and lower-priced products, under a new brand name, for sale through the same outlets as the existing products.

Market development

Try to sell the company’s existing products in new geographical markets – in selected other countries.


The company might be able to diversify into related products and markets (concentric diversification) by developing household ornaments made from china.


1.7       Withdrawal strategy

1.7.1    As the name suggests, a withdrawal strategy is a strategy for withdrawing from a particular product-market area. This might be appropriate, for example, when:
(a)        the entity can no longer compete effectively, or
(b)        the entity wishes to use its limited funds and resources in a different product market area.
1.7.2    A withdrawal strategy might be adopted as a deliberate policy by deciding to:
(a)        reduce the range of products offered to the market
(b)        reduce the number of markets or market segments (for example, pulling out of a market in one or more regions of the world)
(c)        withdrawing entirely from the market, and no longer operating in the market.
1.7.3    The reasons leading to a withdrawal from a product-market area might be any of the following:
(a)        A decline in the size of the market or market segment, for example because the product is becoming obsolete. (For example, due to technological change, videotape and music cassettes are becoming obsolete).
(b)        More effective and successful competition from rival firms.
(c)        Poor financial results; for example, the product might be loss-making.
(d)        A decision by the entity that the product is no longer a ‘core product’ and the entity therefore does not intend to continue making and selling it.

1.8       Consolidation and corrective strategies

1.8.1    A business entity might decide that it does not need to grow. A consolidation strategy is a strategy for maintaining market share, but not increasing it.
1.8.2    There are several reasons why a entity might choose a non-growth strategy.
(a)        The entity might be managed by their owner, who does not want the business to get any larger.
(b)        Management might take the view that if the entity gets any bigger, there will be serious problems in managing the enlarged entity. They might prefer to avoid the problems by remaining the same size.
1.8.3    However, a strategy of non-growth does not mean a strategy of doing nothing. Business entities must continue to innovate even to ‘stand still’. If a business entity does not have clear strategies for its products and markets, it will lose its market share to competitors.
1.8.4    A corrective strategy is a strategy for making corrections and adjustments to current strategy, to counter threats from competitors or to respond to changes in customer needs.
1.8.5    Corrective strategies might be necessary as a part of a consolidation strategy.


Example 7


In the UK, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) does not have a growth strategy, and is not particularly looking for more viewers or listeners for its television and radio programmes. However, it recognises the significance of digital broadcasting. A corrective strategy in recent years has therefore been to develop digital television and radio broadcasting. The BBC launched several digital television and radio channels, designed to attract existing customers to the new technology.

Business entities in a competitive market should seek to obtain an advantage over their competitors. Competitive advantage means doing something better than competitors, and offering customers better value. Competitive advantage is essential; otherwise there is no reason why customers should buy the entity’s products instead of the products of a competitor.

2.         Porter’s Generic Strategies for Competitive Advantage

2.1       Introduction

2.1.1    Porter has suggested three strategies for sustaining competitive advantage over rival firms and their products or services. These strategies, which are similar to some shown on a strategic clock, are:
(a)        a cost leadership strategy
(b)        a differentiation strategy
(c)        a focus strategy
2.1.2    Porter argues that sustainable competitive advantage is achieved by offering customers a ‘value proposition’. This is a set of benefits that the product or service will provide, that are different from those that any competitors offer. A value proposition can be created in two ways:
(a)        Operational effectiveness. This means doing the same things better than competitors, and so providing the same goods or services at a lower cost. Through lower costs, sustainable competitive advantage can be gained through lower selling prices.
(b)        Strategic positioning. Strategic positioning means doing things differently from competitors, so that the company offers something unique to customers, so that customers will be prepared to pay a higher price to acquire the unique value combination that the product or service offers.
2.1.3    Operational effectiveness provides the basis for a cost leadership strategy and strategic positioning provides the basis for a differentiation strategy.

2.2       Cost leadership strategy

2.2.1    Cost leadership means being the lowest-cost producer in the market. The least-cost producer is able to compete effectively on price, by offering its products at a lower price than rival products. It can sell its products more cheaply than competitors and still make a profit.
2.2.2    Companies with a cost leadership strategy must have excellent systems of cost control and should continually plan for further cost reductions (in order to remain the cost leader in the market). The source of their competitive advantage is low cost and they must never lose sight of this fact.
2.2.3    In general, the cost leader in a market is a large company, because large companies can benefit from economies of scale that smaller companies are unable to achieve.
2.2.4    The success of a cost leadership strategy is based on offering products at the lowest price, which means that in order to make a reasonable profit the company must sell large quantities of the product. Total profits usually come from selling large volumes at a low profit margin per unit.
2.2.5    A cost leadership strategy is similar to a ‘low price’ strategy or a ‘no frills’ strategy on the strategic clock.

2.3       Differentiation strategy

2.3.1    A differentiation strategy has been explained in relation to the strategic clock. For Porter (and for writers on marketing management) differentiation means making a product different from rival products in a way that customers can recognise.
2.3.2    Customers might be willing to pay a higher price for the product, because they value its different features. Companies pursuing a differentiation strategy need to offer products and services that are perceived as better or more suitable than those of their competitors. To deliver better products and services usually requires investment and innovation.
2.3.3    Products may be divided into three categories:
(a)        Breakthrough products offer a radical performance advantage over competition, perhaps at a drastically lower price (e.g. float glass, developed by Pilkington).
(b)        Improved products are not radically different from their competition but are obviously superior in terms of better performance at a competitive price (e.g. microchips).
(c)        Competitive products derive their appeal from a particular compromise of cost and performance. For example, cars are not all sold at rock-bottom prices, nor do they all provide immaculate comfort and performance. They compete with each other by trying to offer a more attractive compromise than rival models.
2.3.4    How to differentiate?
(a)        Build up a brand image, e.g. Pepsi’s blue cans are supposed to offer different ‘psychic benefits’ to Coke’s red ones.
(b)        Give the product special features to make it stand out, e.g. Russell Hobb’s Millennium kettle incorporated a new kind of element, which boils water faster.
(c)        Exploit other activities of the value chain, e.g. quality of after-sales service or speed of delivery.
2.3.5    Companies with a differentiation strategy cannot ignore cost. They should keep costs under control and try to reduce costs, so that they can offer more value to customers and retain their competitive advantage. However, they are not trying to be the least-cost producers. It more important for a successful differentiation strategy that products should give more benefits to the customer, even if this means having to spend more to deliver the product.

2.4       Focus (or niche) strategy

2.4.1    A cost leadership strategy and a differentiation strategy can be pursued in a market that is not segmented.
2.4.2    However, many consumer markets are segmented, and companies might select one or more particular segments as target markets for their product. This is a focus strategy – concentrating on selling the product to a particular segment of the market and to a particular type of customer.
2.4.3    Within a market segment, a business entity might seek competitive advantage through:
(a)        cost leadership within the market segment, or
(b)        product differentiation within the market segment.


Example 8


In the market for manufacturing and selling soap, one or two companies might pursue a strategy of being the cost leader in the market, and offer their standard products to customers at the lowest prices.

Other producers of soap might pursue a differentiation strategy, and promote the superior quality of their products, for example by including ingredients that are better for the skin or provide a more attractive aroma

Some producers of soap might focus on a particular market segment, such as the market for liquid soap. Within this market segment, firms might either seek to be the least-cost producers or to offer a differentiated liquid soap product.






Example 9


Porter’s generic strategies can be used to suggest how airline companies seek competitive advantage.

These are suggestions.

Cost leadership

  • Low-cost airline.
  • Reduce operating costs, such as: cheaper ticket production (online), no free in-flight meals or drinks, use low-cost ‘out-of-city’ airports, eliminate seat reservations, reduce baggage allowances for passengers.


  • Offer extra facilities for customers at airports.
  • Offer extra facilities on flights.
  • Promote the airline through branding/advertising.
  • Fly to major airports.
  • Maintain a modern fleet of aircraft.


  • Pursue a cost leadership strategy or a differentiation strategy in a particular geographical region of the world (for example South West United States), or focus on particular high-profit routes (such as London-New York).
  • Possibly focus on a particular type of customer. In the UK an airline might focus on services for business customers in the City of London, offering convenient flights to and from City of London Airport on small planes.


Example 10


The market in the UK for holiday companies is another example of a segmented market, in which different companies pursue a cost leadership, differentiation or focus strategy.

The main market for holiday companies is probably the package holidays market, where a small number of competitors attempt to be the cost leader, although differences in some features of holiday packages mean that a competitive advantage can be gained from low prices, even if these are not the lowest prices in the market.

Some companies offer a package holiday at a higher price, but with better quality accommodation or additional benefits such as onsite pastimes and entertainment.

There are a number of market segments, such as fly-drive holidays, city breaks and adventure holidays. Within each market segment competitors seek to be the cost leader or differentiate their products.

2.5       Target market

2.5.1    An entity must decide which markets or market segments it should target. It must:
(a)        identify the total market for the products or services that it sells
(b)        recognise the ways in which the market is or might be segmented
(c)        decide whether to sell its products to all customers in the market
(d)        decide whether to try to be the market leader, or whether to pursue a differentiation strategy
(e)        if it chooses a segmentation strategy (focus strategy), select the segments that it will target with its product
(f)        within the targeted market segment (or segments), decide whether to try to be the market leader or whether to pursue a differentiation strategy.

2.6       Leaders, followers, challengers and nichers

2.6.1    A business entity can be classified as a leader, follower, challenger or nicher in its markets.
(a)        The leader is the entity that sells most products in the market. Examples are Microsoft for PC operating software and Coca-Cola for cola drinks.
(b)        A challenger is an entity that is not the market leader, but wants to take over as the market leader.
(c)        A follower is an entity that does not have any ambition to be the market leader, and so follows the strategic lead provided by the market leader (or challenger). A follower will try to differentiate its product.
(d)        A nicher is an entity that targets a particular market segment or market niche for its product, and does not have any strategic ambition to gain a position in the larger market.

2.7       Product positioning

2.7.1    The concept of product positioning is now widely used in marketing. The idea originated with Ries and Trout in the late 1960s.
2.7.2    They defined product positioning as the concept of the product in the mind of the customer. Advertising is an important factor in creating product position.
2.7.3    Ries and Trout argued that consumers receive vast amounts of advertising information, but they will only accept the messages that are consistent with their existing knowledge and experience.
2.7.4    They also argued that the best product position to achieve in the mind of consumers is the position of number 1. The market leader dominates the market for many products and services, and customers will often buy a product because it is the number 1.

(a)       Being the number 1

2.7.5    When an entity is the market leader, it should want to maintain its market leadership. To do this, it needs to maintain its position as number 1 in the mind of consumers.
(a)        The most effective way of becoming number 1 in the mind of consumers is to be first into the market at the beginning of the product’s life cycle.
(b)        If this is not possible, an entity needs to create a new image for its product, that will enable it to take over as the perceived number 1.

(b)       Being the number 2

2.7.6    When an entity is only the number 2 in its market, customers will know this. Unless the entity wants to challenge for the position of number 1, it must do what it can to win customers from its position as number 2. Advertising can help.


Example 11


In the US, Avis has been the number 2 car-hire company, and Hertz the number 1. Avis achieved a position as an attractive number 2 by recognising its number 2 position, but offering something better than the number 1. Its successful advertising message was: ‘Avis is only the number 2 in rent-a-car, so why go with us? We try harder.’ (It is not clear what trying harder means, but this did not matter!)

Pepsi promoted its 7-Up soft drink against market leader Coca-Cola by advertising it as the ‘Uncola’. This recognised that it was not the number one soft drink, but offered customers the attraction of not being cola.

(c)        Product positioning for followers and nichers

2.7.8    Ries and Trout argued that entities that are not the number 1 in their market should try to find a way of being number 1 in a particular way. It is much better to be seen as the number 1 in a market segment (or in a special way) than the number 5 in the market as a whole.
2.7.9    To create a product position of number 1 in the mind of customers, entities might devise various marketing strategies.
2.7.10  The approach recommended by Ries and Trout is to be the number 1 for a particular type of customer, such as the number 1 product for women or the number 1 product for professional businessmen. For example:
(a)        a newspaper or magazine might claim to be the number 1 choice for investment bankers or investors
(b)        a local radio station might claim to be the number 1 commercial station in its geographical area, or the number 1 station for a particular type of music
(c)        Apple Mac PCs were not the number 1 make of personal computer, but it was marketed as the number 1 PC for graphic designers.

2.8       Lock-in strategy

2.8.1    A lock-in strategy is another approach to gaining and keeping competitive advantage. The idea of ‘lock-in’ is that when a customer has made an initial decision to purchase a company’s product, it is committed to making more purchases from the same company in the future. The customer is ‘locked in’ to the supplier and the supplier’s products.


Example 12


Lock-in strategies are fairly common in the IT industry.

Microsoft has successfully locked in many customers to its software products. Customers would find it difficult to switch to personal computers that do not have a Microsoft operating system or do not include some of the widely-used application packages such as Word and Excel.

Apple Computers adopted a lock-in strategy for digital downloading of music from the internet. Its iTunes service cannot (currently) be used on non-Apple MP3 players or on most mobile telephones. Customers buying an Apple iPod are currently locked in to buying digital downloads from Apple.

2.8.3    A successful lock-in strategy often depends on becoming the industry ‘leader’ or provider of the standard product to the industry (such as the Microsoft operating systems for PCs). Once an organisation has become the industry standard, it is very difficult for other suppliers to break into the market. Indeed, market standard positions tend to be reinforced as time goes on as more and more people turn to that supplier.
2.8.4    Lock-in tends to be achieved early in a product’s life cycle when the new supplier achieves an unassailable (攻不破的) lead.

Examination Question

Question 1 – Case Questions (50 marks) (May 2004)

Fine Foods Limited
Fine Foods Limited (FF) is a food manufacturer and distributor whose shares are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s Main Board. One of the operating divisions of FF is the Fine Juices (FJ) division, which makes and distributes orange juice. FJ has developed a strong reputation for premium orange juice, having won numerous awards in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. FJ currently produces two brands of orange juice:

The original FJ division was a separate company founded by James Yao and his family in 1975. In 1991 James sold the company to FF. Since 1991 the FJ Division has continued to expand steadily at an average annual growth rate of 5% in revenue.

James Yao remained the chairman and managing director of FJ after the acquisition in 1991. James has also been an executive director of FF since 1996. In early 2003, James entered into his fourth four-year service contract with FJ. It was understood that James would retire on 31 December 2006. To recognise his long term service to the company, the directors of FF agreed to award James a special bonus of HK$5,000,000 if FJ is able to maintain the average 5% annual growth rate in revenue and a minimum net profit margin of 12% over the four year period ending 31 December 2006.

James Yao has always insisted on using high-quality fresh oranges in the juice products. FJ now sources its oranges from orchards in Guangxi, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Sichuan provinces. FJ’s packaging plant is located in South Mainland China near Hong Kong. FJ’s principal market is in Hong Kong.


The management of FF estimates that in the year 2004, FJ will achieve a growth in sales of 4.5% only, although FJ was able to maintain a net profit margin above 12%. After steady growth over the last few years, the management of FF has begun to expect a slowdown in the premium juice market, and is concerned about the achievement of steady growth in the long term.

The management team of FF has put forward a proposal to introduce a high-volume, lower cost range of orange juice, the Quality brand, in the selling price range of HK$5 per litre in the Mainland. The lower cost product will use orange juice concentrate imported from the USA. The new product will be promoted as pure orange juice. Although it is not made by squeezing fresh oranges, the management of FF considers that the Quality brand is a relatively high value added product in the Mainland compared with orange juices supplemented with artificial ingredients. As living standards continue to improve, the management of FF believes that the Quality brand will become attractive to customers in the Mainland.

However, when this proposal was first communicated to James in a regular management meeting he had expressed overwhelming concern. He said “This new range has the potential to damage the business and the company’s brand name. Moreover, if our products are able to achieve an average net profit margin of 12%, why should we market a product with such a low profit margin? Yes, I agree that the market is already saturated, but why cannot we change the pricing of our more profitable existing products to attract higher sales volume at a lower price, for example by cutting the price of Premium (Family) by 5%. Why do we have to enter into the low-end market in the Mainland and take the risks?”

For the year ending 31 December 2004, the latest estimates for the operating results are as follows:

The latest estimate of the operational data of the existing brands for the year ending 31 December 2004 and operational data for the proposed new brand are as follows:

The production overheads and administration costs are relatively fixed. For financial reporting purposes, the costs are allocated to products on the basis of material costs and revenue respectively.

After adjustment for inflation and other factors, the management of FF expects the existing estimated operational data of the products to remain stable for a considerable period.

The management of FF estimates sales of 200,000 cases of the Quality brand in the year ending 31 December 2005 and that the brand can achieve an increase of 20% per annum in sales volume for the years 2006 to 2008 and 10% per annum for 2009 and after. To produce the Quality brand, FJ has to purchase a new mixing and packing system at a cost of HK$12,000,000 on 1 January 2005. The new machinery should last for 6 years. Both the tax and accounting depreciation are on a straight line basis. Additional promotion expenses for the new brand of HK$2 million will be incurred in each of the years 2005 and 2006.


Question 1 (42 marks – approximately 76 minutes)

You are a Finance manager at FF. Write a report to the management of FF regarding the new Quality brand. Your report should:

(a)     Identify the type of generic strategy option adopted by FF when it launches the new Quality brand in the Mainland, using Porter’s Generic Strategies Model and compare it with the existing strategies adopted by FF;                                                                                                   (7 marks)
(b)    Evaluate the appropriateness of the strategy to launch the new Quality brand in the Mainland, using a product life cycle model;                                                                                (8 marks)
(c)     Based on 2004’s operational estimates, calculate the contribution margins and profitability of the existing brands (i.e. Organic, Premium (Regular) and Premium (Family). Explain your calculation where necessary;                                                                                                (8 marks)
(d)    Evaluate James’s suggestion to change the pricing of the existing brands; (4 marks)
(e)     Your calculation of the net present value (some of figures are included in Table A) and the pay back period of the investment in the new mixing and packaging machine; and  (8 marks)
(f)     Explain your recommendation on the proposed launching of the new Quality brand and the matters to which you would alert the management.                                                    (7 marks)

FF is subject to income tax at a rate of 20%, payable at year end, and is entitled to tax depreciation allowance.

Question 2 (8 marks – approximately 14 minutes)

Based on the new Quality brand’s contribution to FJ’s net profit for 2005 and 2006, explain your views on the principal reason for James’s strong reaction to the introduction of the new brand. From the perspective of professional ethics, do you consider James’s reaction appropriate? How would you advise the management of FF to resolve this issue?                                                            (8 marks)



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