Internal and external factors
Internal and external factors influence decisions, which impact marketing strategy, which could be cost leadership, product differentiation, niche marketing, or a combination of strategies requiring decisions on price, product, distribution and promotion. (Hiam, 2004) The internal factors comprise the strengths and weaknesses of the company or its brand or product (Hiam, 2004). The strengths of Sears include an established umbrella brand, wide market reach and distribution network, and proprietary know-how in home appliances.
Its weakness is limited range and undifferentiated products. The weakness in differentiation affected the decision to develop Sears Snuggie, a blanket that can be worn as a robe to keep the user warm even out of bed and keep the hands free for other activities. The external factors are opportunities and threats (Hiam, 2004). The opportunities for Sears is to address a new and unmet market need, develop its online market, and/or expand to new markets. The threats to Sears are new products and market expansion of competitors.
Sears Snuggie was the outcome of Sears meeting the opportunity to address the unmet market demand for a product providing the warmth of a blanket and the mobility of a robe. This decision also addressed the threat of the product innovation setting the distinction of competitors. By using its expertise in the market of household products and appliances to address the limited differentiation of products and meeting an unmet market demand to address the threat of innovative products of its competitors, Sears focused on the marketing strategy of product differentiation.
This was necessary to address its weakness and allay threats. Part of the differentiation strategy meant the decision on pricing, which is promotional pricing for Sears Snuggie to motivate more purchases. Another decision is on the product, which is presented as useful and valuable for the whole family to target a wide market. Another decision is on distribution, which meant in-store and online access to reach a wide market. The last decision is on promotion, which included television and online advertising, endorsements, and other means of reaching the widest possible market.