“Strands of Marketing” for Survival?

Recently I studied a marketing case in a group setting involving a paint company focused on trade sales. This company is named “Jones-Blair Company” and the case was developed by Roger A. Kerin. While the audience is unaware to what degree the the numbers and data expressed are grounded in reality, it makes for a great analysis.

It is the late 1980s and the company executives are evaluating their marketing plan. They are selling premium paint in both urban and rural settings in the southern US. They have hit a point at which they cannot go higher in price, and therefore need to increase volume sold. 

Both analytics and branding should play a major factor in decision-making moving forward. For example, on page three of the case, we learn that only 40% of the company’s sales were sold in non-urban areas; however, of those sales, 90% were to DIY consumers. For every 1,000 people, that would be 360 people, or over a third. This is potentially a very lucrative market segment combined with the following fact: 60% of their outlets are already in rural areas, and of these outlets that have annual revenue of over $15,000, Jones-Blair is the sole line offered. In general, the rural outlets are also seeing an increase in volume sold. These analytics, considered together, point to rural “DIYers” as a segment that cannot be ignored!

Should the company decide to move forward with targeting this market segment, the executives will need to take a hard look at their image. They are maxed out on price and while the quality exists, they should consider how to position themselves not just as a premium paint company, but as fulfilling a need for the individual tackling home projects. Why would the cost-conscious individual want premium paint? Painting is a tough, time-consuming job and premium paint may mean less application, and also better outcome. Many DIYers also need painting help in the form of knowledge when they purchase their supplies. Jones-Blair already has a solid team of highly personable sales reps, and could easily leverage this to their advantage.

Though this case takes place in a period well before the digital age—and therefore that strand of marketing cannot be applied here—it’s indisputable that the other two strands of marketing, branding and analytics, should play a major role in this company’s marketing plan.