Personal Reflective Blog 3

Developing the marketing plan

Insights into the relationship between product development market positioning and target audience:

The effect on product development of the market positioning and target audience is dependent on the company market orientation (Kotler, Armstrong and Harris (2013)). An inside-out approach, when coupled with an innovator style, will not consider the market place but will devise a strategy for their innovative product. In addition, companies that rely purely on market analysis and their strength in addressing opportunities (use of SWOT) will develop a product purely for the market. However, the relationship becomes more interesting when the product is modified to reflect the market conditions. This is particularly pertinent to those on the MMU Product Design MA as most products have arisen from an innovative/ creative background but do not necessarily have the strength to stand alone as a true innovator.

The target market identified in reference to the ‘Diffusion of innovation’ model (Rogers (1983)), which illustrates the rates of uptake in new to the world products as time develops is to aim at innovators and early adopters with no intention of sustaining into the majority, rather, with a constant reset towards innovators and Early adopters. Using targeting such as behavioural and benefits of service segmentation will benefit this organisation, as quality will be a main driver for purchases and how customers use the product or where they shop are identifiers for target customers.

Your understanding of the dynamics between operations management, logistics and supply chain budgeting, lifetime value, marketing and selling:

The industry best practice approach of ‘the 4 P’s’ – product, price, place and promotion –  enables assessment of how a product or strategy is brought to market.

As previously discussed, ensuring value delivery and customer satisfaction are of the upmost importance in marketing. Many customer driven companies have customer relation managers. Loyal customers are worth investing in and growing. At this point marketers spend time gaining a stronger share of the customer rather than market share. Ensuring their customer equity will be maximised brings you back to needing to know what your customer wants and needs and ensuring they want more of it.

Also at this point it is about finding the profitable customers (they are usually a few) and focus of growing these relationships. It is ok to get rid of the non profitable customers says Kotler, Armstrong, and Harris (2013, p29) let the none profitable customers go to your competitors!

Along side a strategic plan and a comprehensive understanding of your customers wants and needs, it is important to keep an eye on marketing trends. Trends are like pathways to success if you can get on board at the right time.

Managing interdependent tasks in the development of product and marketing plans:

When considering how the application of an outside-in strategy would affect the development of both a marketing plan and the development of a product, the interdependent tasks would be concerned with the plan and producing sufficient direction for the product’s development. Providing an understanding of the market, the key needs the product must fulfil and the price bracket, production availability and location of sale will all have significant dampening effects on the creative process.

The process of inside-out would have resulted in a strategy to identify the appropriate market place and consumers for the predetermined product. Keeping the product core values and strengths at the heart of the strategy and development of the marketing plan, the interdependent tasks would have been around, making the marketing plan fit. Finding correct models and research to deliver the product to the strongest possible market available.

Reflecting on the interdependent tasks during development of both the marketing plan and product, it can be said that the process has been quite iterative. With a strong understanding of where the product will be going, an idea of the core values and strengths the organisation currently hold it can be compared to having a blurry end goal. With the blurry end goal in mind, the following interdependent tasks have been experienced:

  • ·During situation analysis, the development of the ‘need’ created a redefining for the product. Moving it from something creatively and process lead and into a functioning concept with attributable values.
  • ·The PESTE, and porter five forces analysis brought to light areas for the organisation to keep an eye on, these were key factors in the direction of the products, learning that there was new technology or expected sales growth in areas encouraged the product direction to favour these anticipated markets. Making significant changes to entice the customer or include new technology, yet retaining the element of innovation the product started with is key.
  • ·Competitive analysis required an investigation into areas not covered by product design. Competitive analysis such as relative product quality, brand image, fulfilling company strategy and further direction. This threw up an understanding for the strategic level of the competitors and the potential challenges as well as the current.
  • Taking a business view of the organisations assets, capabilities and resources, highlighted areas overlooked as assets previously. Bringing to the forefront new opportunities and directions for investment in the future. A therapeutic and fulfilling process.

Kotler, P., Armstrong, G. and Harris, L. (2013) Principles of marketing. 6th edn. Harlow: Financial Times, Prentice Hall


Personal Reflective Blog 1

Market Led Management

Perception of Marketing prior to the marketing unit:

Marketing conjures images of Only Fools and Horses, Phones 4 You and the Marketing team at Tigerprint. A main concern prior to this module was the methods by which the ‘bible status’ market research was gained. The Tigerprint team would gain fresh data by observing members of the public shop in our stores, visit their homes and spend time getting to know them. "The aim is to know the customer better so that they can be given what they want." (Davis, no date) From this data, the marketing team would then create a customer profile. These were helpful and insightful as it enabled the designers to understand instantly the key needs and expectations of the product. This understanding of customers in the marketplace is defined by Kotler, Armstrong, and Harris (2013) as a customer database. A fantastic example of this is Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty program. “In operation since 1995 during which time its capability of gaining insight from customers has advanced dramatically says retail weekly" (Davis, no date).

The definitions of marketing discussed (see more here: link) show marketing is all about relationships. Making business decisions with the customer in mind. Creating a process/plan that speeds up the company progress towards their desired end goals. For me a company who have customer relationships at the forefront of their marketing process is Orange.

Elements of the unit which provided you with new insights into marketing practice:

An insightful definition from Kotler et al (2013) describes that wants and needs aren’t the same. You may want several products but only buy one. Asking where do consumers spend their money? Is what marketers are interested in.
Marketing is more of an investigation into who and why rather than just how to sell, with a dynamic approach to an organisations competitive advantage. Marketing is a reflective practice and potentially as subjective and opinion lead as design.

Marketing and its relation to selling and operations orientation:

With a customer centred approach, the ‘marketing concept’ suggests a strategy of sense and respond to your target markets wants and needs. This strategy is popular with marketers "market orientations ... often seen as the holy grail of marketers"  (Drummond, Ensor, and Ashford, 2001, p10). This is an 'outside-in' perspective.

The selling concept holds, that organisations will not sell products unless undertaking a large-scale selling and promotion effort. The selling concept is often used when the product is unknown to the customer. Drummonds, Edensor and Ashford (2001, p10) warn that having a dominant short-term perspective can lead to an aggressive selling and a disregard for the longer-term relationships.

Long-term relationships and customer satisfaction will be significantly harder if a business follows a selling strategy. I am concerned about this focus on customers - what if they don't know what they want or what is possible for that matter?

The evolving nature of marketing into service and consumer relationship management:

The nature of marketing has been challenged over the past years, under the influence of the changes in customer behaviour and in the competitive environment. The differences between transactional and relationship selling are many. And the shift from marketing into service and consumer relationship management has happened. Marketing is now more about looking after the customer; customer relationship management enables an organisation to be tied to their customers never getting out of touch with them and their secondary beliefs. Creating touch points can maximise customer loyalty. E.g. the use of a sales assistant who talk to customers, targeting emails or involving customers in the design process.

Some companies have carried customer relation management to the point where customers have become partners. This is one way partnerships can occur. Another example of this is partnership relationship management. Here partners participate in each other’s strategies and plans. For example: Dell and Intel both advertise the valuable element of their relationship.

Your perception of the marketing function and its role in shaping the product design function:

Product designers use the function of marketing, while shaping the final product design, however, it is not as detailed or formalised. The reality surrounding designing and launching a successful product without considering the market is not an option, maybe for an artist – but not a designer.

Within the marketing orientation a lot of emphasis it placed on the consumer “the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return.” Kotler et al here highlight the two-way value relationship required for successful marketing. Dibb and Simkin (2008, p1) define this two-way relationship as an exchange relationship, however this relationship unifies designer and marketer as one. With such a strong emphasis on customer needs, true innovation is hindered. As explained in Shimpei Takahashi TED talk: play this game to come up with original ideas. (March 2010) where he discusses the pressure to use data as a starting point for design quashed his creativity. Taking inspiration from pre-existing products will often lead to copying rather than true innovation.

With this in mind, however, it can be said that during the process of writing’s marketing plan the product has under gone significant changes as market trends and competitor analysis have sparked new ideas. Understanding the actual needs and wants will enable the product to become market ready.

Conclusion – view of marketing has changed. It can now be held that marketing is a key part of the development of successful market ready products. However, to attain true innovation, marketing must not be apart of the initial concept phase and therfore a suggestion of B.S.O.S.T.A.C. would be the approach taken when approaching market led product design in the future, with B standing for Blue sky thinking. It is my belief that Blue sky thinking and true ‘free rein’ of idea conception is required to create something truly unique.

Davis, G. (no date) Analysis: Loyalty cards - How retailers are using the data
What is marketing? definition and meaning (no date) in Available at: (Accessed: 25 May 2015)

Kotler, P., Armstrong, G. and Harris, L. (2013) Principles of marketing. United Kingdom: Financial Times, Prentice Hall

Drummond, G., Ensor, J. and Ashford, R. (2001) Strategic marketing: planning and control. 2nd edn. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann

Takahashi, S. (2013) Shimpei Takahashi: Play this game to come up with original ideas | Talk Video. Available at: (Accessed: 25 May 2015)


I got a Merit!

Having received my first grade … I got a merit! I can honestly say I am chuffed! A lot of people have said an MA may be too much for me. Going back to education after industry has been a challenge to say the least. So, Merit! (Beaming from ear to ear) Writing and reading are by no means my strengths, however I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge!

I have been told from a young age by my wise mother ‘the way you look at something and approach it with effect the outcome”. So rather than this being something I cant do, something a dyslexic creative shouldn’t do, it is something I will do. Something I will success in.

So what stopped me from getting a distinction!?

Mostly – my industry experience! Not that Dave said exactly that – but, it is, what is holding me back from ‘thinking’ freely, letting go and not worrying about the end outcome. “Enjoy exploring” was one small comment. Dave is right. And ironically this is in complete contrast to the annual feedback I received as a professional designer “just do it, Emma, stop thinking and just do it”.

This for me is a concern – warning, I will be going off topic here – I want to go into FE lecturing, yet having the industry experience still ringing in my ears I am concerned about the sort of ‘design education’ we are giving our next generation. Are we preparing them correctly for industry? If that is the end goal…?

This is worth a read: design education is tragic says Jonathan ive

For students – yes,
for their parents – yes,
for the league table score - yes, maybe,
for the tutors – no.

In my discussions with Manchester University Lecturers it is more, for them, about opening a students mind. If a graduate learns to question, learns to ask why and to have an understanding of their own creativity then they have succeed.

Upon reaching a graduate designing job (if that is even what you would like to do) you then must cut your teeth on the harsh reality of short deadlines, picky clients and colleagues who ask you if they can remove your perfectly designed ‘element’ to get it to - cost in!

Dave’s main advice was around my need to establish what it is that is 'me'. What makes sense to me, rather than just everything that gets me excited (which has a broad scope) I need to be more selective around what I say inspires me or at least what I let inspire me.

Trying to refine and really understand what the difference between:
'that's exciting, oh I love that'

'that's exciting, oh I would love to work that way'.

It's less about 'I want to make that object / work with that material' and more about 'I want to work that way' I think that is a fantastic approach to problem solving'. Design thinking, approaching design with a route or set of steps that feel natural and comfortable to me. Taking time to research and understand how I like to work. Dave believes true innovation comes from a design thinking approach, rather than mass-produced ripping off. Having self-assurance, knowing your reasons, justifying why you have reached your end goal.

I still have a long way to go, I am aware that a lot more reading, thinking and ‘pondering’ is required and I am willing to put the thinking time in, however I do still just want to get messy and crafty asap!

I hope to move to a place where I have established my step by step approach to getting messy, so I can go ahead and get messy and then reflect upon it :)

Best of both worlds maybe!?

This week I have started on a series of courses, wokring towards becoming a mentor :) this has given me some reasurance that my end goal may still be achieveable.

Design Agenda Analysis

A series of group projects were delivered. Upon completion of the projects a short presentation was delivered to all other groups and the head lecturer. Introducing an element of completion and pride and ensuring a conclusive presentation was delivered summarising the work undergone. Each presentation was both beneficial to the other groups and gave a sense of unity and finality to the module.

Through out this post, I will comment on each of the fellow MA- groups; design agendas, the different collaboration styles and I will also reflect on if ‘in my opinion’ it was successful.
The pairing of each group had been pre-determined by our Head Tutor; Dave. We had been encouraged to pursue a design agenda from the list laid out below

There was however, no end design brief or product spec to meet. This implied the task was focussed on how we collaborated and responded to a set design agenda rather than the product outcome.

Group 1 | Josh and Jim | materiality agenda.

- Step one for them was to determine the end product (a Bag)
- They both chose 3 products they had a ‘deep connection’ with and interrogated why.
- They then explored materials, and created a pallet of materials that were of interest to them both.
- Research into the use and tradition of these materials provided new inspiration.
- They then looked into textile innovation.
- Meshing the two (history and innovation) became the new direction

The stand out part for me was the ‘three products you love’ this is a lovely ‘ice breaking’ activity and could really help designers get under the skin of why.
Working in a new group always has challenges and I feel James and Jim’s pairing gave them both new insights and learning’s.
Early into the course and both from differing commercial backgrounds I feel their individual design styles may have clashed rather than harmonising though no fault of their own.
I asked Jim how he had enjoyed working with a materialist design agenda. He replyed “I enjoyed it as I am trying not to be influenced by what I already know”.

Group 2 | Alex and Ezgi | Inclusive design agenda

-       Survey and questionnaire
-       Summary of points of interest and issues
-       Brainstorm ideas and solutions
-       New technology – any relevance?

Working with a new team member, with a new agenda is hard enough. To then add outsiders as the main driver for design considerations is a challenge.
I feel Alex and Ezgi presented a fantastic range of outcomes with some interesting solutions. Due to the nature of their project (designing seating for a bus) no product was taken to realisation.
For me, their use of a questionnaire instantly reminded me of my A level Product design and having a structured market research approach. Due to their design agenda they had to know their audience and a questionnaire gave them a broad understanding of many views. Having good, focused questions and a friendly approach helped; Alex and Ezgi ride the bus daily so knew some of the main concerns themselves, they also had a lot of friends who ride with then and then took the questionnaire.
Similar to the of Jane Fulton Suri 'IDEO' Jane "pioneered human-centered approaches… She evolved techniques for empathic observation and experience prototyping.” (Navigate, 2015)  getting into the environment of the customer, living out the rituals surrounding your intended product will help you ‘the designer’ to fully understanding them ‘the customer’ giving relatable experiences to fall back on throughout the design process. Also experiencing the problems yourself first hand helps to truly understand what your need to design.

Group 3 | Pippi and Daecan | ‘Super Normal’ & ‘ Function & Interaction'

-       They determined the product area – Sandwich box
-       However they concluded this easily and quickly
-       They then explored the subject ‘food pawn’
-       Introduced the obscure to the ordinary

The work complied here was excellent and a really thorough and well-investigated project. By reaching an end point mid way through the project they were forced to redefine their design parameters. Having a basic topic, they then subversifed it and found the most taboo element of this area. Lunch boxes = food pawn.

They then researched the activities and rituals surrounding each. Then investigated further more into the emotion and feelings towards these rituals. Their product range was based around the combination of a taboo activity or ritual with an everyday ordinary activity or ritual.

Group 4 | James, Kasia and ME! |  Biomimicry and Digital Craft

-       introduction to the design agendas and how they influence product outcomes.
-       research current designers using these design agendas
-       create a process by which the design could be created though no influence of our own ‘the designer’.
-       Design something using this process.

Our design agenda was concerned with creating a process that enabled the customer to have an influence on the product outcome through their personal statitics and data. Eg date of birth, height, or favourite music.
If you are interested in my thoughts on how we worked as a group please see this blog post Click here
This was a new Design approach for me and I am keen to investigate it further, as I am very interested in personalisation and customisable design.
In the current market for product design, I can see two main routes for innovation; invent something with new technology that helps the customer in a way they didn’t already know about. Or personalise a product that is used daily and relied upon. Giving that treasured product a feel of individuality and uniqueness that is often only achieved through hand made pieces.

Going forward as a product designer, I will investigate this method as an option for customisation as I feel the ability to change the product outcome with the data you provide as a customer has a fantastic gravity, especially if you are looking at key life events and celebrations.
For example, having a poster for your new-born baby with: weight, date, name and star sign on. Transforming that into a night-light where the shape, colour and potential design detail is determined by these key information’s?

Comparing the group approaches and Design agendas, I feel that those with a structured and focussed design agenda could explain their success and direction as stemming from their focussed design agenda. Where those with less focus and more meandering could attribute the lack of outcome to not truly understanding their agenda. It would appear that ones approach to design can really instigate ingenuity. With Daecan and Pippi’s product range that was based around the combination of a taboo ritual and an everyday ritual, I can see how the process and the Design Agenda really influenced the diversity and originality of the outcomes.

I can see now how the process, and journey can really affect the outcome. After all, our own individuality and personality creates our own personal approach to design. Reflecting on James and Jim’s ‘three products you love’ activity highlights how ‘why’ can be such a personal thing. The reasons for loving a product can often be quite individual. Again thinking of Alex and Exgi’s product design for their own problem, and how experiencing the problems first hand helped them to truly understand what was needed highlights how having an understanding of how YOU design, what makes you tick creativity will help immensely when faced with – a design brief.

I guess the aim is to understand your design process so what ever you are faced with personal or professional, you know how best to approach and tackle the problem. Having a formula, or a step by step plan, will help on the journey through designing a product. Not truly understanding the map, or maybe not even having a map can of course lead to getting lost.

But understanding other design agendas from the offset is where I personally found the challenge, because there are few commercial designers who write down (and share) their step by step approach to design it is more of a backwards unpicking of their process through observations and analysis.

I will see. Yet to be completely convinced and yet to fully understand my design agenda!