Several major factors are changing the face of marketing today with the emergence of new communications gadgets. Consumers are changing, as they are being empowered and better informed in this digital, wireless age. Rather than relying on print media information, they can use the Internet and other technologies to discover information on their own. Most importantly, though, consumers can connect more easily with other consumers to exchange brand-related product information.
With the advent of a more well-informed target audience, marketing strategies also have changed. Mass markets of yesterday have become fragmented and have caused marketing to shift away from that bygone era towards target-group focus, which is designed to build closer relationships with customers in more narrowly defined micro-markets.
The United States today consists of a multi-generational work force. From millennials (1980-1995), to Generation Xers (1965-1979) to baby boomers (1946-1964), there are about 195 million people in the work force. There are also 32 million people in the mature group (1945-under). In 2009, 46.2 percent of Luzerne County’s residents were between the ages of 19 and 64, while 18.1 percent were 65 and over, according to the U.S. Census.
America’s population also is growing and changing at a rapid pace. By 2050, it has been forecasted, some 439 million people will live in the United States – up from 296 million in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center. Eighty-two percent of that increase will be due to immigration. It has also been estimated that Pennsylvania’s population will increase from 12.2 million in 2000 to 12.7 million by 2030.
Will marketing shape the buying patterns of our nation’s changing demographics and burgeoning population base or will our more diverse and tech savvy country usher in a new era of marketing strategies? Marketing has been described as a pervasive societal activity rather than a narrowly defined business activity. It is therefore a market-related activity that attempts to shape and present the organization’s identity in a way that will lead to a positively perceived image. It does so through the creation and communication of the meaning, relevance and value of the organization and its product.
The role of marketing has been defined as a science, educational process and a philosophy with the potential benefits of marketing beginning and ending with the customer. Today, the key to marketing leadership is to understand customer needs and wants behaviors. An example of a highly competitive industry is the hospitality field – restaurants, hotels, resorts and country clubs – something we have no shortage of here in NEPA.
A restaurant, resort and country club’s ability to increase its customers’ perceived value and achieve sustainable financial success depends on growth strategies. Creative and innovative ideas promote growth, drive success and make consumers want more. Once a company identifies its strengths, it is possible to develop unique products and services that set a hospitality industry operation apart from its competitors and simultaneously leave a distinctive mark for potential consumers. All departments of a hospitality industry operation can be included in a business growth plan resulting in the needed change, improvement and increasing revenue activities. Therefore, innovation is critical.
Innovation provides the hospitality industry with sustainability through continuous improvement, re-branding and repackaging. The end result is a competitive advantage that gives an operation the ability to deliver the same benefits as competitors, but at a lower cost or deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products. A competitive advantage enables the restaurant, resort and or country club to create superior value for its customers and superior profits for itself. This translates into consumers who are willing to pay higher prices for brand loyalty products and services.
Marketing leadership strategies involve detailing marketing leadership design featuring operating depths. An example of this is found in the survey, “Marketing Research for the Hospitality Industry.” The objective of the research was to identify and analyze new hospitality products, services and activities that would appeal to the masses.
The national survey proved the research objective and can be analyzed by each specific hospitality operation to develop a specific strategic marketing plan to increase sales and revenue. The survey resulted in 25 products, services and activities ideas being rated by survey respondents. Some of the most popular ideas in the survey included mini-drink samplers, a concert series, a customer or club member sandwich of the month, local athlete banquets and trivia cards for ice breakers.
It is important to remember that the hospitality customer also is purchasing an experience. Customers are buying not only rooms or meals, but memories. Thus, the role of marketing leadership is to help define and create these memories. The hospitality industry can gain a competitive advantage by utilizing these survey outcomes. Taking an operational how-to approach seeks strategic marketing survival and growth for the specific hospitality industries.
John N. Mellon, Ed.D., C.F.C.S., C.D.E.P., is an associate professor of business at Misericordia University in Dallas Township. You can send questions about Dr. Mellon’s column to him at email@example.com.