Mini Marketing Plan
Marketing plans describe the marketing environment, outline marketing strategies, and identify plans for implementation and evaluation. Preparing a marketing plan involves analyzing the marketing environment, developing a marketing plan, deciding on a market segment and choosing the marketing mix in terms of product, price, promotion, and place (Solomon et al. 2011). This marketing plan attempts to propose a marketing strategy for Ali Baba Kebabs (AliBaba), a chain of Mediterranean kebab restaurants in Australia. It was established in 1979 in Canberra, and promotes itself as serving a healthy alternative to fast food (AliBaba 2012). It has an established franchise model with more than 45 restaurants, mostly in the eastern part of Australia. The analysis involves understanding the organization, its external and internal environment, the customers, competitors and the existing marketing strategy. Literature related to marketing of fast food joints and other restaurants has been examined. Based on the insights gained, a marketing and communication plan has been suggested to improve and sustain competitive advantage based on differentiation.
AliBaba is a 100% Australian family-owned and operated Mediterranean kebab chain with outlets located in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. The menu comprises of kebabs, wraps, meals (called plates) and salads. The items are traditional Mediterranean recipes, tailored to suit the Australian market in terms of taste, nutritional value and reduced fat content (AliBaba 2012). The restaurant market in Australia is extremely competitive, and there is great diversity of cuisine available. This is due to a significant percentage of immigration population. Sunshine Kebabs is one of major direct competitors, and fast food giants like McDonald’s and Subway also have a huge presence. The cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services industry in Australia had a trailing twelve month turnover of A$35.432 billion in November 2013 and the market growth was 1.3% (ABS 2014, pp. 11-12). AliBaba launched a brand revitalization program in 2012, and the company plans to put in more effort over the next few years (AliBaba 2012).
SWOT and PEST – AliBaba
Strategic planning is the managerial decision process that matches the organization’s resources and capabilities with the market opportunities for long-term growth. A critical step in strategic planning is evaluation of the internal and external environments (Solomon et al. 2011). SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) analysis methods are the commonly used tools for environmental scanning.
According to Helms & Nixon (2010), SWOT analysis helps strategic planners to understand how strengths can be leveraged to realize new opportunities, and how weaknesses can slow progress or magnify organizational threats. SWOT helps discover ways to overcome threats and weaknesses (pp. 215-216).
AliBaba has a time-tested and successful franchise business model. Its brand power and its popularity are evident from the fact that it serves about 4 million customers annually (Franchisebusiness 2014).
There is lack of geographical diversity as the outlets are concentrated only in Australia, and it has only one supplier for most of its goods (Franchisebusiness 2014). The business structure has not changed with the organization, and it is still a family owned organization.
New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are the most populous and fast growing States of Australia (ABS 2013a). The café, restaurants and takeaway food services market has recently shown growth (ABS 2014, pp. 11-14). The consumer sentiment has also improved (RBA 2014, p. 5).
Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services
Australian per capita expenditure on food is relatively high by world standards SAFC (2010, p. 9). The recent strategic marketing initiatives of AliBaba also provide it with great opportunity to enhance market share.
There are around 40,000 restaurants, cafes and caterers in Australia (RCA 2011), and the industry is highly competitive. Giants like McDonalds and Subway have a strong footing, and several Kebab joints are competing for market share.
Place / location
Ryu, Hye-Rin & Kim (2010) conclude that food, physical environment and service components of restaurant service contribute significantly to the image of the restaurant. Quality of Food and physical environment are major contributors to the customer perceived value. Customer perceived value depends on restaurant image, and is a significant determinant of customer satisfaction. Finally, customer satisfaction is a significant predictor of customer behavioral intentions (p. 200). The food-savvy clientele demand an exceptional mix of good taste, variety of menu, nutritional value, presentation, freshness, and enticing aroma. The study was conducted on authentic Chinese restaurants in the USA which face competition from cuisines from other cultures (e.g. Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese) (pp. 217-218).
Andaleeb & Conway (2006) argue that restaurant owners and managers should focus on service quality (responsiveness), price, and food quality (or reliability) (in that order) to enhance customer satisfaction. Responsiveness encompasses the personal contact attributes of the employees like promptness, courteousness, knowledge about menu, neatness in appearance, helpful nature, attentiveness, and understanding of customer needs. Consequently, managers need to organize training programs to improve the ability of the employees on these factors. Regarding price, it is important for restaurants to assess competitive prices and customers’ reference prices for a selected segment in which they desire to position their offering. If the price is above the references price (expectation), then customer satisfaction will be adversely affected. However, it is important to note that this study was conducted for full service restaurants (pp. 7-8).
According to Pettijohn, Pettijon & Luke (1997), quality, cleanliness, price and value are the most important attributes of a fast food restaurant. In addition convenience, distinctive store atmosphere and broad menu also influence customer perception. Further, satisfaction is related to repurchase intentions, positive word-of-mouth publicity and customer loyalty (pp. 18-19).
Peters (2011) emphasizes the importance of defining the USP of the restaurant, which could be the factors like unique benefits to customers, prices, special menu, service, a strong guarantee, exclusivity, specialization. It is important to understand what makes customers come to the restaurant and identify ones strengths.
Min & Min (2011) argue that the fast food restaurant managers need to understand what the leading competitors do in the market and what level of service gaps exists between current performances and best practices. They need to cater to the changing customer preferences. Taste of food, “atmospheric” impression such as cleanliness, and quick service response time are important. Customers value location and price more than they did earlier. Every-day low price strategy is, therefore, better compared to the once in a while kind of promotion. Fast food restaurants should develop a long-term branding strategy by recognizing loyal patrons, offering them special discounts, free meals/drinks for repeated visitors and prompt response to their complaints (pp. 294-297).
Qin, Prybutok & Zhao (2010) also emphasize that the direct impact of customer satisfaction on behavioral intentions makes it imperative to monitor customers’ responses constantly and track customers’ post purchase evaluations (pp. 432).
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