Researching the Market

Mobile Manufacturing, Inc.
Michelle Dietrich, president of Mobile Manufacturing, Inc. (MM), stared out of her third-floor window at the traffic below her San Jose, California office and said to herself, “This new product has to be right. If we can’t gain back a significant share of the mobile phone market with this product, MM is not going to be here next year.”
Michelle’s company made its debut in the mobile phone industry in 2002 when it invented the first mobile phone that could access the Internet. At the time, this gave MM a huge advantage over its major rivals.
Mobile Manufacturing, Inc.’s first successful product and initial public offering (IPO) in 2003 raised enough capital to help the firm develop new products, but since then, the technology giants have caught up with them. Although MM had some success with other products, it has not been able to match its initial success and distinguish itself from its rivals. MM—though it was the darling of the technology world in the early 2000s—was struggling to attract first-class employees and new investors; it was floundering in the market.
After several failed attempts at new products, Michelle hired Elena Steokovich, the top cell phone designer and engineer in Europe, to help design a new product. Elena knew her stuff when it came to phone product design, and she had worked with Michelle on MM’s first product. After stints with big-name competitors, she agreed to return to MM to help Michelle restart the product innovation engine.
“I know that just designing a good phone will not be enough,” thought Michelle. “Perhaps the most important question is: How do I know if anyone will buy our phone? Certainly market research will help us identify potential customers so that we can target them effectively, and careful analysis of the research findings will lead us to a good marketing plan. Yes, the marketing plan is the key. I need to know that the next phone we develop will meet the needs and wants of those who crave the latest and greatest technology in their mobile phones.” MM needed to get back a market share if it was to survive in a fiercely competitive environment.
Michelle also knew the mobile phone and technology markets had changed drastically in other ways since MM first entered the market. There were new domestic and foreign companies competing, increased market demand driving prices down, and innovative products being introduced every year. Although some consumers were happy to try out the latest and greatest products, a large number of customers were suffering from feature fatigue, a term used to describe the tiring of the bells and whistles. The customers with feature fatigue just wanted to make phone calls to their family and their friends.
To help ensure that MM has the right marketing plan for its new mobile product, Michelle has hired you as her marketing consultant for this project. As the marketing consultant, you will be responsible for planning, organizing, and implementing the marketing plan for MM’s new product.

***Primary Task Response: Read the dialogue below. Within the Discussion Board area, write 400-600 words that respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. This will be the foundation for future discussions by your classmates. Be substantive and clear, and use examples to reinforce your ideas.
Michelle knows that MM needs to determine who the target customer is for the new product. She knows that marketing research needs to be done as part of this market segmentation and product development processes, but she is not well-acquainted with some of the details that are involved in the processes. She has stopped by your office to ask some questions.
“Thanks for canceling your other meeting this afternoon,” she says.
“No problem,” you say. “I rescheduled my meeting with multimedia; it actually works out better for them, too.”
“I’ve heard about quantitative and qualitative research, but I’m not sure I really understand the difference between the two,” she begins. “I’m sure there are advantages and disadvantages to each of them, but without knowing, I’m not sure which type of research we need to conduct. What do you think?”
Before you can respond, Michelle’s cell phone vibrates.
“Excuse me, I have to take this,” she says.
Michelle takes her call and then stands up.
“Well, I’m sorry to do this, but I have an emergency that I have to deal with right now,” she says. “Would you do me a favor? Send me a memo that explains the two types of research and include brief explanations about the advantages and disadvantages of each as related to how they could be used by MM. I’d like to be able to speak intelligibly to this at the next board meeting.”
“Sure,” you respond, thinking that this will make for a pretty lengthy e-mail. “I’ll also include how each method can help us define our target market. Will that help?”
“Yes, great idea,” she replies.
“Ok! I’ll get that to you by close of business tomorrow,” you say.

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