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Friday, October 26, 2012



The third business level strategy is focus. Focus is different from other business strategies as it is segment based and has narrow competitive scope. This strategy involves the selection of a market segment, or group of segments, in the industry and meeting the needs of that preferred segment (or niche) better than the other market competitors (Bolter & Mcmanus, 1999). This is also known as a niche strategy. In focus strategy, the competitive advantage can be achieved by optimizing strategy for the target segments. 

Focus strategy has two variants. They are:

1.   Cost Focus; and

2.   Differentiation Focus

Cost focus is where a firm seeks a cost advantage in the target segment; and Differentiation focus where a firm seeks differentiation in the target segment (Cherumilan, 2004). We shall discuss these variants later.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012




Every individual customer is unique in itself so is his/her preferences regarding tastes, preferences, attitudes, etc. These needs of the customers are fulfilled by the firms by producing differentiated products. In our day-to-day life we see many such examples of differentiated products. Most of the fast moving consumer goods like; biscuits, soaps, toothpastes, oils, etc. come under the category of differentiated products. To satisfy the diverse needs of the customers, it becomes essential for the firms to adopt a differentiation strategy. To make this strategy successful, it is necessary for the firms to do extensive research to study the different needs of the customers. A firm is able to differentiate from its competitors if it is able to position itself uniquely at something that is valuable to buyers. Differentiation can lead to Differential advantage in which the firm gets the premium in the market, which is more than the cost of providing differentiation. The extent to which the differentiation occurs depends on the overall strategy of the firm. Previously differentiation was viewed narrowly by the firms, but in the present scenario it has become one of the essential components of the firm’s strategy. Reliance Infocomm, offers varied products like; different facilities to its customers in the CDMA telephones. This is differentiation. 
When we talk of differentiation, it can be said that virtually any product can be differentiated (Sadler, 2004). The greatest potential of differentiation lies in products, which are of complex nature but do not have to adhere to strict regulatory standards, but the success of a differentiation strategy depends on the firm’s commitment towards customers and the understanding of customer needs as differentiation is all about perceiving on the part of the customer of something unique. Differentiation can be said to have more competitive advantage than the cost advantage as it is quite difficult to imitate the differentiated products. Even if the initiation is done in terms of concept, then also a particular product remains unique regarding its value, style, packaging, etc. Therefore, when we talk about differentiation, it is important to understand the demand of the customers and fulfilling this demand keeping in mind the differentiation advantage. In this case, one thing the firms should concentrate on its creativity and innovativeness than on market research. We have discussed about the concept of differentiation as a whole but we need to know the why aspect of differentiation, i.e., why do the firms need differentiation? 


Thursday, October 18, 2012



The firms operating in this highly competitive environment are always on the move to become successful. To strive in this competitive environment the firms should have an edge over the competitors. To develop competitive advantage, the firms should produce good quality products at minimum costs etc. This means that the firms should provide high quality at low cost so that the customer gets the best value for the product he/she is buying. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the firms to have a strategic edge towards its competitors. One such competitive strategy is overall cost leadership, which aims at producing and delivering the product or service at a low cost relative to its competitors at the same time maintaining the quality. According to Porter, following are the prerequisites of cost leadership (Cherunilam, 2004):

1) Aggressive construction of efficient scale facilities;

2) Vigorous pursuit of cost reduction from experience;

3) Tight cost and overhead control;

4) Avoidance of marginal customer accounts;

5) Cost minimization.

According to Porter cost leadership is perhaps the clearest of the three generic or business level strategies (Bolten & McManus, 1999). To sustain the cost leadership throughout, the firm must be clear about its accomplishment through different elements of the value chain. Figure-1 shows a matrix of the three generic competitive strategies and their interrelationship given by Porter.

Figure-1 : Three Generic Competitive Strategy


Saturday, October 13, 2012



Cost analysis occupies an important place in business strategy. In order to gain and sustain competitive advantage, a firm should not only monitor its cost performance but also should endeavour to control it. Several strategic decisions like fixation of competitive prices, provision of after-sale services, quality of the products etc. depend upon relative cost level of the business firm. The role of cost in different market conditions is to be examined. The Experience Curve analysis is also important to derive the cost strategy of a firm. Michael Porter in his book Competitive Advantage suggested three generic competitive strategies aiming to develop a dependable position in the long-run and out-perform the competitors. These three strategies are:

1.   Cost Leadership,

2.   Differentiation,

3.  Focus. 

All the three strategies can either be used individually or in combination to each other. Figure-1 shows a matrix of the three generic competitive strategies and their interrelationship given by Porter.


Figure-1 : Three Generic Competitive Strategies 


Monday, October 8, 2012



Cost has been correlated with the accumulated experience (of say production) by the Experience Curve Effect. The underlying principle behind the experience curve is that as total quantity of production of a standardised item is increased, its unit manufacturing cost decreases in a systematic manner. The concept of the experience curve was presented by BCG in 1966 and since then it has been accepted as one of the important phenomenon.

The experience curve is a rule of thumb. It says “costs of value added net of inflation will characteristically decline 25% to 30% each time the total accumulated experience has been doubled” (Henderson, 1989). This is also known as learning curve. Initially, this inverse relationship was discovered for the learning costs which are the costs for direct labour input in the manufacturing cost. Thus, as the production of a particular item (such as aircraft components) increased, the quantum of time of direct labour component to make each of these successive items declined. This helped the aircraft manufacturers to predict the cost of man-hours required to manufacture in future, say the number of aircraft, and helped them to fix the price accordingly. The Experience Curve Effect phenomenon, where costs fall with accumulated volume of experience, was known to industrial managers for many years. It took momentum as a tool in business strategy after Boston Consulting Group (BCG) provided the concept.

Let us take an illustration to understand this concept. When one starts the production of a new product (2 units), the unit cost is, say Rs. 100. Then, as the accumulated production volume reaches 4 units, the unit cost is reduced by say 20%, to Rs. 80. Furthermore, as the accumulated production reaches 8 units, the cost gets reduced by another 20%, to only Rs. 64, and so on. This trend has been tabulated in Table -1 

Table-1 : 80% Experience Curve

The data of this table when plotted on a plain graph, it gives an 80% Experience Curve, as shown in Figure-1. The Experience Curve has a hyperbolic shape.

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