International marketing is the export, joint venture, full direct entry or franchising of an organization into another nation. This may involve exporting goods into another country, making an entry through joint venture, or even a foreign direct investment into a foreign location. While doing so, there are certain international marketing strategies to be adopted by a firm. Also there are certain policies to be kept in mind and followed in order to have smooth business operations in overseas country (Clavé, 2007).
This report attempts to identify fundamental managerial issues and policies which are necessary for international marketing success. It considers case study of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and evaluates methods of identification and qualification of market potential in different parts of world. Report also carries out situational analysis for Walt Disney and identifies specific challenges for organization. Further, while proposing a number of strategies to be adopted, one strategy that suits current situation of company has been stated and justified.
Situational analysis can be taken both internally and externally to the organization which will help in understanding a number of challenges that can be faced by Walt Disney. It is explained in the following manner:
Internal analysis may involve SWOT model that will help Walt Disney to understand its potential that it already acquires to face challenges. The analysis is done as under:
Strengths: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is a company that owns strong product portfolio and brand reputation around the world. Walt Disney Company has also shown good competency in acquisitions as well as diversifying businesses. It is also efficient at localizing its products in a number of countries which makes it comfortable for customers to take benefits from its services and infrastructure (Plunkett, 2005).
Weaknesses: Despite Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have a strong brand reputation around the world; it is still heavily depended on North America for major of its income. Moreover, it gets only a few opportunities of growth through a number of acquisitions (Raj, Griffin and Morpeth, 2013).
Opportunities: There is an opportunity in emerging markets regarding growth of theme park industry and this can be beneficial to generate more revenue and develop sound brand recognition in those countries. Also company can take advantage of movie production expansion to new countries which will always be beneficial for increasing its customer reach (Curwen, 2004).
Threats: There is an intense competition in the theme park industry as there are many amusement and entertainment companies in North America that can pose threat to Walt Disney (Gregory, 2004).
External analysis involves Porter’s five forces model which will provide information regarding United Kingdom external environmental factors that can pose threat and opportunities to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It is explained as under:
Threat of New Entrants – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have been able to find niche in the industry and because of this fact, the threat of new entrants cannot be considered much. Thus, company must keep considerable investment in research and developmental activities to cater well to the niche market (Rohac, 2007).
Threat of Substitute – A number of domestic or local amusement parks can be substitute to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and thus, there is significant threat to the company in terms of losing its customers. Company should consider price control over its services in order to cope with these substitutes that are present around the world (Telotte, 2008).
Bargaining Power of Suppliers – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts belong to a big company and, because of this fact, bargaining power of suppliers that are depended on Walt Disney Company is low. Company has created unique relationships with its suppliers and thus, they rely on firm for their own growth and expansion (Cornelis, 2010).
Bargaining Power of Buyers – There is high bargaining power of customers in service and entertainment industry. Walt Disney Company maintains such a product mix that offer intangible benefits to customers. But there are some segments of customers which are not able to notice these tangible benefits offered by firm. In this case, the power of bargaining becomes high (Telotte, 2008).
Threat of Rivalry – Rivals play significant role in the competition of grabbing more market share in the industry. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts can face key players of industry in the UK such as Thorpe Parks, Alton Towers Theme Park etc. These competitors will make company consider changing major of its decision making to cope with challenge of acquiring more market share in industry (Darnay, 2003).
Above internal and external analysis can provide understanding of major challenges to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in terms of substitutes and competitors like amusement and theme parks. Bargaining power of customers is also a challenge for company. Its weaknesses like depending upon US income and getting few opportunities of growth from acquisitions can also drive company to consider making changes within its major operations around the world.
Present and future of theme park industry seems bright with the increasing value of industry over last decade. Despite economic recession in 2009, the UK theme park sector has recovered considerably and which even saw rise in adults’ visit with encouraging 3% in the UK theme park for the first time in 2009. It was almost equal to 1.2 million visitors alone in the year and this record was further broken by the admission levels which were over 14 million in 2010 (Global Amusement & Theme Parks Industry, 2013).
A quarter of Brits was recorded to be visited in the UK theme park in 2009 that contributed a value similar to £315 million in the same year (Consumers queuing up for UK theme parks, 2010). Year 2014 has seen admission growth with nearly 15 million visitors contributing a value amounting to over £400 million to industry. Past two years have seen positive results for the UK theme park industry with positive effect of recovery coming back from economic recession in 2009. This persuaded people to stay back home and take more days of trips, holidays and short breaks all over world (Mannheim, 2014).
Research from Global Industry Analysts revealed that the global amusement and theme park industry is anticipated to create income of nearly £19 billion by 2017. The recovery phase between 2010 and 2011 has fueled more spending from consumers on the areas of leisure, travel and entertainment. Reason behind this is increasing disposable income of people as well as huge increment in popularity of entertainment and theme parks. Despite visitors attendance stabilizing in the UK theme park industry, there are certain obstacles that hinder growth of organizations operating in sector. These obstacles are from rivalry of substitutes or other options of entertainment, unemployment and widening deficits in the economy. Thus, it is considerable to say that strategies must be adopted to cope with these global challenges and to acquire stable international growth (Global Amusement & Theme Parks Industry, 2013).
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts can consider adopting a growth strategic option in order to deal with current situation in the theme park industry of the UK and globe. Three potential strategic options that can be adopted by company are explained as under:
Networking International Subsidiaries – Creating a tightly woven chapter network or subsidiary to serve local market while integrating into global operation will provide company with seamless global service delivery to its customers having global needs. Besides this, it will also develop potential for company to deal with local as well as global competitors in the industry (Worth, 2003). This can be called as the market penetration strategy, which Walt Disney Company can adopt to go through its existing as well as global markets with high potential of profitability.
Coming Up with Theme Parks in Developing Countries – Company can consider looking for new locations to market its existing themes that have already gained substantial image and popularity. This will not only expand its market base and grab more customers from around the world, but also develop sound image throughout the globe. Entering into developing countries using a number of international market entry strategies will offer Walt Disney with seamless opportunities to take benefit of local demographic potential and favorable customers’ lifestyles (Milman, 2013). Market development strategy will prove to be beneficial when overall objective of company involves expanding to developing countries and compete well with competitors in the industry.
Creating a New Image – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts can also consider creating an image by developing new themes in existing markets and take benefit of the their existing popularity among customers. This will also require company to make considerable investments for branding and promotion to develop sound positioning of the themes within existing markets (Pine and Gilmore, 2008). In this way, it can also position new themes for current and potential customers and compete effectively with competition present in current markets.
“Creating a new image” or in other words, “product development” is the recommended strategic option to be adopted by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for growth in industry. Company should consider innovative theme elements for major attraction of visitors. New and effective technology should be used to develop such themes that are appealing to customers. This must be aligned with the target market encompassing both current and potential customers of company (Connell, 2007). Customers can be segmented with their different and specific needs with entertainment, parks and resorts, and later on the same can be offered to them with new positioning and branding strategies. Positioning can be made in accordance with objectives of market selection. Objectives of market selection should cover the following facts:
Walt Disney has to face low profitability through acquisitions in other countries, and Its major income is depended on US markets.
Considering above stated facts that reflect objectives of market selection, Walt Disney must develop new themes within its existing markets to cope with these circumstances already facing the company. UK theme park industry has experienced considerable profitability over years and thus, firm should invest more within the UK regions to develop new and sound products for existing and potential customers (Trigg and Trigg, 2005). This strategic option can be further elaborated with investments to be made in terms of the following:
Improving Visitors Experience – Creating a sound visitor experience should be central to a theme park. Families, children, friends and students visit these theme parks while looking for fun and excitement. This helps companies earn considerable amount from customer visits. Thus, income and sustainability of companies are dependent on repeat visit of customers. Poor and miserable experience of visitors will likely to make them switch their choices of entertainment (Johnson, 2002). Hence, Walt Disney must consider its on-going success by delivering a number of major factors to have sound and effective impact on customers’ enjoyment of the theme parks.
Investment in New Attractions and Ideas – Major attractions at theme parks for visitors are the rollercoaster and other thrilling rides available at parks. Walt Disney should come up with new ideas that make these attractions of customers even better and more thrilling to explore. The ideas should be such that it reflects the brand image of company and effectively caters to the specific needs of customers during their visits. In this way, customers would feel more exciting to visit the parks of Walt Disney and this will certainly fulfill the objective of product development as a strategic option for growth.
Customer Service – Customer service is another aspect to be considered while investing in current markets. This is because of the fact that it is critical for a company to effectively deliver sound and great experience to customers at theme parks. Thus, Walt Disney should invest more to develop robust systems that positively consider offering sound customer service to visitors. Operators of Park should also consider that the facilities to be provided are child and family friendly. For this, staff and crew members must undergo rigorous and sound training to offer facilities with such standards as required by visitors. This will certainly enhance the experience and reputation of theme park and also improve brand image of company.
Safety and Security – Safety and security is another aspect of investment to be made and reflect the strategic objective of firm regarding product development. Customers should be provided with effective safety facilities that protect their lives and health from potential threats. This will enhance perception of customers regarding brand of company.
Making investments in all the above and a number of more aspects will definitely deliver sound results of implementing the strategic option for growth in the existing markets with new themes. In this way, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts can consider growth in the industry and also have huge expansions within existing markets to become market leader.
Marketing mix to be adopted to support product development as a strategic option of Walt Disney must involve 7p’s of the mix with a purpose of developing and implementing sound marketing strategy for achieving strategic objective. It can be explained as under:
Product – As discussed in the above points, Walt Disney needs to develop such a product that is appealing to its existing markets and customers. Educational theme parks can also be offered to customers just to make the product innovative and competent.
Price – Adoption of penetration pricing strategy should be made for new themes developed as a result of growth strategy. Walt Disney can keep rates of entry tickets ranging from £35 to £37 depending on the region within UK.
Place – Places to be considered should reflect the strategic objective in terms of matching new educational themes that have been developed to attract more customers and thereby fulfill growth strategy. It should also be considered that the places are in close proximity yet away from major concentration of population to lower down the immediate impact of major theme park operations.
Promotion – Promotional strategy to be adopted will be branding and positioning of new themes adopted to reflect objective of creating new image in existing markets. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines, televisions should be posted to attract visitors and impart knowledge of the educational aspects of theme parks. Outdoor media will also be effective to grab attention of customers regarding the same.
People – Walt Disney should make sound efforts to increase benefits offered to customers. It should make people aware of intangible benefits they get which are often ignored by them. For example, free coupons for 1 night accommodation to visitors can be a benefit given to customers.
Physical Environment – Company should also consider that the physical environment offered to customers should encourage the use of services provided to them. In this way, value-addition can be made to customers’ spending.
Processes – Process is the element that involves services offered to visitors of theme parks. Services like safety and security, and specific areas for disabled visitors etc. must be developed for providing better facilities to customers.
The above elements of marketing mix can be used to support strategic option for growth and they are capable enough to reflect the strategy to achieve major marketing objectives of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Report has attempted to conduct situational analysis for Walt Disney which is quite helpful for company to understand market and theme park industry. The understanding from analysis can further be used to identify and develop sound strategic options for company growth. This is to be followed by selection of market and the best growth strategy that will offer Walt Disney Parks and Resorts with sound growth opportunities within theme park industry.