Home > Articles > Business & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Competitive Pressure

Regardless of how benign or cynical a marketer's view of people is, the intensity of competitive rivalry in open and free markets will frequently be a dominating factor in strategic and tactical marketing decision-making. One can even say that a lot of the in-your-face efforts come from marketers set on dominating competitors, and going over the top in their effort.

In a sense, competition has always been a factor as long as marketing has been around, in fact as long as business has been around. After all, the key ingredient in a successful business is to provide a differentiating benefit, something that the competition cannot offer, something that generates a sustainable competitive advantage. One reason why the in-your-face efforts in marketing have risen to new heights is simply that the intensity of competition has grown apace with the globalization of markets.

Partly it is a question of numbers. Open and free markets entice new entrants who help raise the promotional intensity in an industry. Having more advertisers means having more advertising. But, perhaps what matters more is the fact that the competitive battle has shifted from product differentiation to less tangible attributes such as brand image and style. The rapid diffusion of technology and rejection of the "not invented here" syndrome have helped many companies incorporate new features from competitors into their own products, obliterating their competitors' advantages. This is why consumer choices in advanced countries depend so much on price and promotion, forcing companies to go to ever greater efforts to hype their offerings.

This was neither an obvious nor easily predictable result from globalization. There was no real reason to expect companies' products to become more alike. It was the emergence of best practices, reverse-engineering, and imitative design that led to a greater importance of promotion. The shift in thinking was mostly due to the Japanese companies' success with imitative product design strategies. As we will see later, the Japanese preference to not necessarily bring new products and new features to the marketplace, but to improve versions of the existing market leaders, is one explanation why their approach overseas seemed so much better attuned to the local conditions than the American way of doing it.

It is not surprising that the shift to communications and promotions as differentiation devices also has meant more and louder promotional efforts than before. Since functional differences between products are relatively minor, promotion of brand and image is the only way to avoid debilitating price competition. If one competitor tries to lower the pressure, other competitors will gain. Many companies advertise heavily to at least match their competition, not really being able to gauge the effectiveness (or lack of it) of the effort. Increasing the stridency and the amount of the effort serves to attract the attention of the prospects and dominate competitors. Then, if people behave as marketers suppose, there is a chance to convert a prospect to a customer. All in all, it is not a pretty scenario.

Marketing as warfare

The marketing activities that many of us are most familiar with are not so obviously based on the idea of satisfying our needs and preferences. This is because the markets in many developed countries are basically mature, even saturated. Marketing involves as much the creation of needs and wants as the satisfaction of them. Actually, marketing often has to start with the creation of dissatisfaction, making you displeased with the state of your present possessions. Only then will you be open to information about "new and improved" options. Marketers frequently compare marketing to warfare, with branding strategies conceived as an attack on a competitor's stronghold rather than simply satisfying customer needs.

The idea of marketing as warfare has a fairly long history, and does crop up now and then in most academic texts on marketing management. In 1986, a book entitled Marketing Warfare was published by two well-known advertising consultants, Al Ries and Jack Trout. They applied the military strategy principles of von Clausewitz to marketing strategy. Strikingly, comparing marketing efforts to military action means that competitors are the enemy, while consumers become the battlefield. As the authors proclaim at the outset: "The true nature of marketing today is not serving the customer; it is outwitting, outflanking, outfighting your competition. In short, marketing is war where the enemy is the competition and the customer is the ground to be won."11

For all its assumed "empowerment" of the consumer, the Internet go-go years of the 1990s did not diminish the relevance of this analogy. As the Preface to the 1998 reprint of the book states: "A decade ago, the term 'global economy' didn't exist....Today's marketplace makes the one we wrote about look like a tea party. The wars are escalating and breaking out in every part of the globe....All this means that the principles of Marketing Warfare are more important than ever."12

Albeit one should not take such promotional hyperbole at face value; such language is regrettable. However, the point about military strategic thinking being part and parcel of marketing remains. For example, it is easy to relate the emphasis of von Clausewitz (and current American military doctrine) on the use of dominant force directly to the consolidation of businesses and the concentration of marketing spending behind a few global power brands. Big beats small.

Today's emphasis on the importance of the brand has not diminished the war-type rhetoric used by marketers—quite the contrary. Other contributing factors of course might be the political and military situations in the country, although it really seems farfetched to ascribe any direct effect from the Iraq war. In any case, a reasonable person might well shudder reading the titles of the current crop of branding business books: How to Build a Killer Brand, Differentiate or Die: Survival in the Era of Killer Competition, Warp-speed Branding, Only the Paranoid Survive. These are not very encouraging metaphors.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020