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Mayrhofen - Positioning


Positioning is the process of creating an image for a product in the minds of target customers in a way that differentiated them from the clutter and confusion of the marketplace (Dibbs et al, 2001; Marino, 1999).  Mayrhofen should therefore re-consider their position strategy in response to the changing customer needs.  The situation is analysed using steps in Figure 1 to help identify and select a positioning strategy (Shaw, 2000, Kotler et al, 1999; Dibbs et al, 2001):

Step 1: Identify customers and needs

Since the customer needs are changing, the MkIS should be able to help the director identify customers in current or newly emerge segments for potential threats or opportunities.  Figure 2 shows the different segments in the market:

Current target segments

The current target segments include non-skiers and skiers at all ages.  The non-skiers stay at Mayrhofen for sight seeing and expect to have extra product/service benefits other than skiing.  On the other hand, the main purpose of the skiers is skiing, their expectations are therefore apparent: the need for snow guarantee, the need to have instructors for children, beginners and intermediates, and other supporting benefits for non-skiing time.  Safety is also one major need for the family, beginners and intermediates.

Newly emerge segments

The changing customer needs has emerged some new segments.  The aging population means that the proficient segment is divided into two sub-segments: the age group under 40 and another group in 40-50.  The economic factor influences the group under 40 to seek for low price package that are value for money so they are prepared to trade off price with certain benefits.  While the group closer to 50 is better off financially and hence, they demand for high quality package to satisfy their needs. 

The changing trends in the skiing industry also divide the proficient segment into two significant groups: the safety skiers and the adventure skiers.  The safety skiers are those view safety as number one issue when enjoying their pleasure.  Adventure skiers demand for ultimate ski experience as priority and need for variety of ski activities.

The development of snow surfing emerge a new opportunities for winter sport resort.  The group is the teenagers or early 20s who perceived skiing to be old-fashioned and boring.  Therefore, they want something fashion and excitement.  The teenagers are normally accompanied with their families so their needs are similar to current segments as discussed above.  The early 20s need to have low price package as most of them are still relied on their family for financial support.

The increasing trend towards self-arrangement trip means that people seek for more product/service flexibility to fit to individual needs.

Targeting

The legal and geographical factors have limited the exposure for adventurous ski activities in Austria.  Mayrhofen should give up the adventure skiers segment and focus their resources on their current segments plus the segments of proficient and safety skiers in different age groups, the snow surfers and the self-arrangement group.

Step 2: Identify competitors

Mayrhofen then has to identify their direct competitors.  The other resorts in the valley provide similar product/service package, which pose a threat to Mayrhofen directly to compete for the same target customers.  The resorts in France or America attract the proficient group with variety of ski activities, which include the age group of 40-50 who are able to spend more.

Step 3: Determine customer perception

Positioning is the prospect・s perception of the product/service (Kotler et al, 1999).  Therefore, the MkIS is needed to ascertain which factors customers consider to be most important in making their purchase decision.  The customers might compare the benefits and their needs, which develop their perception on Mayrhofen as shown in Figure 2:   

This is a very complicated process as different segments perceive differently due to their individual characteristics.  It is assumed that the director will adopt one marketing strategy to serve all target segments due to budget limit.  The MkIS should therefore help the director to find out the same important determinants from the different segments for the purpose of positioning strategies.  It is also assumed that the determinants are snow guarantee and value for money.  Lacking of snow means a great disappointment for the purpose of the trip, while more and more customers seek for value for money package to satisfy their needs and expectations. 

Step 4: Determine current position

Using the MkIS, a perceptual map should be developed similar to Figure 3 to identify current position of Mayrhofen and their director competitors, which is an assumption due to limited information provided:

The result shows the current positioning of Mayrhofen and their competitors in accordance to the customers・ perception.  The resorts in America are perceived with the least snow guarantee and below average value for money.  The resorts in France have a better perception for snow guarantee than the resorts in America but the perception of value for money is above average.  The other resorts in Austria are perceived for highest level of snow guarantee and lowest level value for money.  Finally, Mayrhofen is perceived to have lesser snow guarantee than the other resorts in Austria, but is perceived below the average value for money. 

Step 5: Decide and monitor positioning

Based on the analysis from step 4, the director needs to re-position themselves that will give their product/service package the greatest advantage in the target segments.  For example, they need to move themselves from current positioning to new positioning at .smile face・ on Figure 3.  Due to limited resources, the director is recommended to use positioning strategies on product attributes and price/quality, taking consideration of their competitive advantage (Dibbs et al, 2001).

Product/service attributes

The main focus should be on the snow guarantee with the year-round snow at Hintertux glacier.  Mayrhofen should emphasis that the distance to the glacier is only 30 minutes drive or offer timely shuttle bus to get there.  They should also position the value for money benefits of their product/service package.  For example, the professional instructor teams for children, beginners to intermediates, and the variety of activities for non-skiers, etc.    They may also build extra attributes to enhance their package value.  For example, they can develop a site for snow surfing and promote with some special events such as regular surfing contest to attract the target segment.  In addition, they can increase sightseeing point such as a museum about the history of skiing.  Finally, they also need to maintain the quality of the product/service package to meet the customers・ value for money perception.

Price/Quality

Mayrhofen should emphasis to the customers that they are flexible to offer a range of accommodation from first class hotels (proficient of age 40-50) to inexpensive bed and breakfast pensions (families or self-arrangement) and self-catering apartments (snow surfers) that can meets individual needs.  There should be a huge price differences between the ranges of accommodation to meets the expectations.  The front-end staffs should be trained to provide high quality service to satisfy customers・ need and build an image that Mayrhofen is value for money in terms of price and quality in the winter sports resort market.

Finally, a positioning statement can be developed to reflect the nature of the product, its brand and attributes to target customers (Dibbs et al, 2001).  A simple message is the critical factor in achieving strong positioning (Cebrzynski, 1998).  It might be something similar to .Enjoy value for money holiday at year-round snow Mayrhofen!・.  Once it is positioned appropriately, the director has to set aggressive but obtainable goals for monitoring and improvement (Fertig, 2000). 

As a conclusion, a position lies in the minds of the customers.  The director of Mayrhofen should use the MkIS to assist him in defining the needs for each target segments, identifying their direct competitors and their current positions in accordance to the customers・ perception.  Based on the analysis, the customers perceive that snow guarantee and value for money are important determinants for their purchase decision.  So Mayrhofen should position on product/service attributes and price/quality taken into consideration of their competitive advantage to communicate the message to the target segments.  A positioning strategy is only effective with continuous monitoring and improvement to meet the customers・ needs and expectations.


References

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Dibbs, Sally; Simkin, Lyndon; Pride, William M and Ferrell, O C (2001), Marketing: Concepts and Strategies, Houghton Mifflin, New York

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