Approaches that laboratory services take for marketing
Medical laboratories play a critical role in assisting patients and doctors to identify various illnesses and conditions pertaining to illnesses. Accordingly, the study focuses on illustrating the manner in which medical laboratories could perform their marketing activities in the most effective manner. The main objectives of the study include; identifying the main modes of advertising used by the laboratories, identifying the main communication strategies, finding out the approaches used by the laboratories to communicate their messages, determining the main target audiences of the laboratories, and determining the effectiveness of the communication approaches.
The study entails using qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to fulfill its objectives. In this context, the qualitative method involves the use of literary sources pertaining to the subject. This includes information and theories forwarded by previous research and information gathered through books and internet sources. The qualitative aspect of the research would involve the use of a survey where 30 respondents are being chosen to answer a set of questions which would help in obtaining answers relating to the main objectives of the study. In this context, the main respondents for the study are being selected from the medical laboratories in Abu Dhabi – involving personnel who work in the capacity of employees and management. This is because, the study intends to derive information from persons who are well versed in the field and have a good understanding regarding the relevant marketing aspects. The mode of random selection of respondents would be used in this context, since the respondents would be selected based on the contacts that are in place. The accuracy of the study would be maintained since the respondents would be able to provide the needed information as they would possess a sound understanding regarding the subject area. Accordingly, the study revealed the significance of primarily using electronic media for advertising, as well as the relative importance of other marketing strategies.
Figure 3.3.1. Main Framework to collect information 33
Figure 4.2.1. Classification of respondents 38
Figure 4.2.2. Understanding regarding marketing activities 39
Figure 4.2.3. Alignment of marketing strategies with corporate objectives 41
Figure 4.2.4. Level of effectiveness of the marketing strategy 42
Figure 4.2.5. Strategies used by the organizations in the marketing process 44
Figure 4.2.6. How often the marketing strategy is revised 45
Figure 4.2.7. Main criteria used to segment customers 49
Figure 4.2.8. Age segmentation 50
Figure 4.2.9. Income segmentation 51
Figure 4.2.10. Main evaluation mechanisms 53
Figure 4.2.11. Indicators of marketing success 55
Table 4.2.1. Understanding regarding marketing activities 39
Table 4.2.2. Does the firm have an effective marketing strategy? 40
Table 4.2.3. Employee inclusion in developing marketing strategies 42
Table 4.2.4. Main marketing approaches 47
Table 4.2.5. Location segmentation 52
Table 4.2.6. Strategies used to identify customer requirements and perceptions 54
Table 4.2.7. Main aspect that could influence the firm’s marketing activities 55
I would like to thank my professor for the invaluable guidance and supervision provided. Also, I would like to thank my friends and family for the support they gave in completing this task. I am grateful to the participants of the research and others who helped me to obtain the necessary information.
This chapter provides a description regarding the manner in which the study would be taking place. Accordingly, it would assess the various phases in which the research would be conducted and the importance of each phase. In this context, the study would be performed by initially describing its background. This would explain aspects pertaining to laboratory services in the UAE and its relevance to marketing activities. Thereafter, focus would be laid on the problem statement. This entails the identification of the effective marketing strategies that could be used by the laboratory service providers. The purposes of the study and the main questions of the research are being discussed subsequently. This would provide a general idea regarding the research. Importantly, the resources used for the study would be enumerated since it plays a major role in determining the authenticity of the study. The chapters of the study would include a literature review, explanation of the methodology of the research, presentation, analysis, and discussion of the findings, and the conclusions, implications, and recommendations.
The laboratory services are an important part of the medical services. This is because, the medical services highly depends on the laboratory services for the purposes diagnosing the health conditions of the patients, as well as in evaluating certain outcomes. In this context, as the laboratories play a prominent and an important role in determining the treatment that a patient should receive through the medical services, the laboratories will have to maintain high level of quality to provide correct results to the medical professionals (Horwitch et al., 2001). This necessitates having the proper equipment and qualified and competent personnel in place, in order to enhance the quality of the services provided by the laboratories. As a result, the laboratories would be able to provide authentic results to reach appropriate outcomes (Mackert et al., 2013). Hence, the role of the medical laboratories in the field of medical services could be considered as highly important.
In the process of providing the medical services, it would be necessary to ensure that the services maintain high quality – in order to gain customer attraction and ensure the customers that the service provider is a reliable entity. Accordingly, the service providers would need to develop trust in the customers – by portraying a reliable image – in order to ensure that they derive beneficial outcomes through the business. This creates the necessity of generating customer awareness and increasing customer attraction through the marketing activities.
In the event of planning and executing the marketing campaigns it would be necessary for the service providers to ensure that their advertisements are able to comprehensively communicate information regarding the services and the benefits the laboratories can provide (Niblett, 2005). The central factor in this context is the ability to relate to the customer audience and generate a positive image regarding the company. This will ensure that the service providers are able to derive the best of the level benefits through their marketing campaigns (Hill, 2006). However, it is essential for the service providers to identify the extent to which the individual customers have a say in deciding the services providers for their laboratory tests. This is because, the patients may be compelled to use the services of certain service providers basing on the directives of their organizations or medical consultants. This necessitates the efficient use of the marketing mix – i.e. product, price, place, and promotion – in a manner which would be able to reach out to a broader segment of customers (Fisher and Ronald, 2008). It is highly important in this context, for laboratory service providers to align their business strategies with their marketing strategies in order to ensure that the measures taken through the marketing activities complement the financial and operational objectives of the organization. Accordingly, the laboratories would need to focus their marketing strategies on attracting different consumer segments by using various advertising and communication strategies which would align with the needs of the customers and the organization. The research thereby focuses on identifying the various modes of marketing that would be beneficial for organizations that provide laboratory services in the UAE.
The UAE has experienced a surge in the growth of laboratory services, during the recent past (Sahoo, 2015). The mandatory medical insurance coverage for all employees of various organizations, has been a major factor affecting the growth of laboratory services. However, the diagnostic market in Abu Dhabi is the largest in UAE, and thereby the marketing of laboratory services remains a challenging activity. This could be attributed to facts pertaining to the relationships that private and government sector organizations have with the laboratories as well as the perceptions and relationships of the doctors regarding particular laboratory service providers (Chan, Tsang, and Leung, 2013). In this context, the manner in which the respective organizations perceive the service providers and the recommendations of the doctors would play a major role in determining the service provider which the patients would choose. This creates the requirement for laboratory service providers to execute effective marketing strategies in order to attract the patients – through organizations and doctor recommendations (Carrigan and Szmigin, 2005). The effective marketing activities would help in creating more awareness amongst organizations and individuals regarding the service providers, and in developing relationships with doctors and organizations in order to ensure that patients are directed to the service providers by such entities. Hence, identifying the appropriate marketing approaches and carrying out targeted advertising for the medical laboratories, will be main issue that the research intends to resolve.
The objective of the paper is to identify how the laboratory services are being marketed and how successful these marketing techniques are. Accordingly, the use of appropriate advertising approaches would result in generating beneficial results for the service providers. Also, the use of such approaches could have a telling impact on the overall laboratory services industry in the UAE. In this context, the findings of the study would be of significant importance as it could provide direction – in terms of marketing – to the rapidly growing medical laboratory industry. The following research questions are formed in this case:
- What are the media the medical laboratories use for advertising?
- What are the communication strategies that they have?
- What are the approaches they use to communicate their message?
- What are the main target audiences that they have?
- How effective has the communication approach has been?
Providing the answers to the above questions should solve this issue and indicate how they benefit from adopting an appropriate communication related approach.
The study would be conducted by researching various areas pertaining to the business. In this context, qualitative and quantitative methods would be used to obtain authentic data/information. This would help in identifying prudent marketing strategies that could be used by medical laboratories. Hence, the following sources of evidence could be used;
- Primary data sources
- Secondary Data sources
The primary data sources would include the responses derived through the questionnaire provided to several (30) key personnel working in the industry. The secondary data sources would include previous research pertaining to the subject and other information gathered through various online material (academic books and journals, newspaper articles, etc).
This chapter has provided an overview of the study. It depicts the purpose of this study, the structure of the research, and the expected outcomes. The next chapter would provide a critical review of literature basing on different theoretical aspects relating to marketing of laboratories.
This section would discuss various theoretical underpinnings relating to the subject. Accordingly, information derived from previous research conducted regarding marketing, as well as information gathered from books and journal articles would be used in this context. The purpose of using theoretical models is to analyze, plan and evaluate the operational environment of an organization. This would assist in developing a cohesive strategic marketing plan. A critical analysis pertaining to marketing activities in the medical laboratory industry could be performed henceforth.
Obtaining insights into the characteristics of the overall market environment is an essential aspect in the process of developing an effective marketing strategy (An and Kim, 2007). This is because, it is necessary for business organizations to identify the requirements of the customers and effectively cater to them, whilst simultaneously overcoming the external impediments of the market (Borden, 1984). In this context, an organization would need to conduct research regarding various factors; the perceptions and preferences of customers, competitive pricing, product portfolio of the competitors, new trends in the market, and the customer segments that needs to be targeted (Kerin, Hartley, and Rudelius, 2011). Accordingly, the use of methods such as online surveys, obtaining feedback, interactions with customers, personal interviews, etc, could be used to perform research activities pertaining to the aforementioned aspects (Sashittal & Wilemon, 1996). Further it is highly important to have frequent interactions with almost all functional groups (such as R&D, engineering, manufacturing, sales and customer service) of an organization, in order to ensure that the marketing activities are performed smoothly (Horwitch et al., 2001). Marketing professionals often use a variety of tactics to gain the cooperation of other groups: persuasion, team work, negotiation, commonality of goals, and total quality management methods (Chan, Tsang, and Leung, 2013). Accordingly, obtaining insights regarding the following aspects would enable in formulating prudent marketing strategies; consumer behavior, market segmentation, and targeting customers.
As illustrated by Kotler and Keller (2006), consumer behavior refers to the manner in which consumers react to the price, value, and features of the product or service. This would create the necessity for organizations to identify the requirements, perceptions, and predilections of the customers and offer the products/services in line with such requirements (Mackert et al., 2013). In this context, organizations would need to ensure that they obtain the actual perceptions of the customers. Accordingly, it would be necessary to constantly conduct research activities regarding customer preferences and their ideas regarding the product/service. This could be performed by directly interacting with customers, conducting research activities, and obtaining customer feedback on a regular basis, regarding their satisfaction levels as well as other areas that need to be improved in the services provided (Niblett, 2005). Customer interaction is an important aspect especially for service providing organizations – as they directly interact with the customers (Kerin, 2012). This enables organizations to develop closer relationships with its existing customers, attract new customers through frequent interactions with random consumers, and alter its service portfolio in line with the market needs (Fisher and Ronald, 2008). Importantly, by constantly assessing the behavior of consumers, organizations would be able to forecast the trends for the future and align its services to suit the needs of consumers – whereby effectively catering to the market demand and gaining a competitive edge (Vespry, Vespry, and Avery, 1999).
Market segmentation involves categorizing the customers in the market (Weinstein, 2013). Accordingly, the customers are divided into different segments, in order to determine upon the segments that an organization needs to target (Kerin, Hartley, and Rudelius, 2011). In this context, the process of market segmentation helps in establishing a specific criteria to identify customers with similar behaviors and requirements; which in turn enables to determine the segment which the marketing activities need to be focused on and the manner in which marketing activities need to be conducted (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2011). As a result, the marketers are able to develop their marketing strategies according to the perceptions, preferences, and requirements of the consumer segments that the business focuses on (Carrigan and Szmigin, 2005).
According to Kerin, Hartley, and Rudelius (2011), market segmentation could mainly be performed in three ways. This refers to demographic segmentation, behavioral segmentation, and psychographic segmentation (Dibb, & Simkin, 2013).
Demographic segmentation – This refers to categorizing the consumers according to their age, gender, income levels, etc (Horwitch et al., 2001). Accordingly, organizations could segment consumers basing on their product/service portfolio as well as by taking into consideration the demand that each consumer segment generates for the product/service that is being offered. This would help in identifying the segments in the society that need to be targeted when performing the marketing activities (Kotler, & Lee, 2007).
Behavioral segmentation – This entails categorizing consumers according to their consumption rate, attitude, responsiveness to change, knowledge, etc (Weinstein, 2013). In this context, the consumers who depict high rates of consumption, who are receptive to the product/service offered by an organization, who value quality services, etc, could be identified. Subsequently, the marketing strategies could be formulated in line with the current and predicted behavior of the consumers (Dibb, & Simkin, 2013).
Psychographic segmentation – This involves categorizing consumers according to their lifestyles and beliefs (Thompson, & Martin, (2010). It is necessary in this context to understand the culture and aspirations of the consumers in the market, and thereby align the marketing strategies accordingly (Weinstein, 2013).
Hence, market segmentation is a vital aspect pertaining to the marketing activities of an organization as it helps in ascertaining the benefits and the value sought out by each consumer segment, which in turn enables an organization to formulate its marketing activities in a manner which would attract the expected number of customers and derive the desired benefits of the business ((Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2011).
Targeting entails determining the potential customer segments that an organizations needs to focus on (Kotler and Keller, 2006). Accordingly, targeting customers takes place after segmenting the market. This involves concentrating on a specific consumer segment or segments, and thereby formulating the marketing strategy to attract the targeted customer segment(s). The targeting process initially requires identifying the extent to which the existing segments are served by the competitors; which in turn would assist in identifying the consumer segment(s) that have been neglected by the competitors (Lockett, and Blackman, 2004). This would enable organizations to concentrate on attracting consumer segments that would be highly attracted to the products/services provided (Sashittal & Wilemon, 1996).
Next, assessing the size of the segment is an important aspect, as it enables to ensure that the product/services are able to attract the targeted number of customers (Vespry, Vespry, and Avery, 1999). This is because, the number of customers attracted by the organization need to be able to be able to meet the financial and operational goals of the organization. Also, it would be necessary to identify the growth of the targeted segment(s) in order to ensure a positive demand for the product/services on a continuous basis (Carrigan and Szmigin, 2005). In this context, it would be essential for an organization to assess whether it would be able to accomplish its business goals by targeting only a single consumer segment or whether it would need to target more consumer segments. The competitive nature in the market and the business objectives of the organization would be the main aspects that would need to be considered when making the decision pertaining to the segment or number of consumer segments that need to be targeted (Kerin, 2012). As a result, an organization would be able to choose the most appropriate consumer segment(s) which it could benefit from in the long term, and subsequently develop prudent marketing strategies to attract and retain customers (Chimhanzi and Morgan, 2005).
An organization needs to conduct an analysis regarding its internal and external operational environment, in the process of implementing its marketing strategies (Lambe, Wittmann, & Spekman, 2001). This process involves obtaining useful and frequent feedback from its various stakeholders (especially customers and employees). It is important in this context that the employees are committed towards implementing the marketing strategies effectively whilst simultaneously ensuring the customers are highly receptive to the marketing campaigns (Donovan & Henley, 2003). Such an analysis would help in identifying the performance gaps (i.e. gap in value expected by the stakeholder and value provided by the company) of the organization, and subsequently adjust the marketing process to ensure that the gaps are minimized (Andreasen, 2006). As a result, an organization would be able to evaluate the outcomes in line with the expectations of the company in the process of implementing the marketing plan. In this context, an organization would be able to achieve benefits such as; identify the strengths and weaknesses of the company and thereby overcome deficiencies at early stages and augment the strengths, recognize the potential opportunities in the market and optimally utilize such opportunities, maximize utilization of resources, develop the service portfolio in a manner which would enhance customer attraction, improve the efficiency of marketing communications, managing customer relationships efficiently, mitigate impacts of the current and future risks, and boost the image of the organization (Hill, 2006; Donovan & Henley, 2003; Vespry, Vespry, and Avery, 1999).
The SWOT analysis is the main theoretical model which could be used to assess the internal environment of an organization. This helps in identifying the internal strengths and weaknesses, whilst helping to capitalize on the available opportunities and developing strategies to overcome the potential threats (David, 2009).
In the event of assessing the external environment of an organization it would be appropriate to use the PESTLE analysis as well as the Porter’s five forces model. These analytical models which aid in analyzing various factors of the external environment – relating to the political, macroeconomic, socio-cultural environment, industry environment, etc (Thompson, & Martin, 2010). As a result of conducting such analysis, an organization would be able to adopt the most appropriate marketing strategies (Hill, 2006).
This is an analysis tool which would help in ensuring the efficiency of the strategic marketing plan, as it would enables an organization to identify the gap between the perceived value of the customers and the value provided through the services (David, 2009). As a result, an organization would be able to identify its shortcomings and apply remedial measures. This in turn ensures that the customers are being provided services in line with their expectations, since the organization is able to align its services in line with the value expected by the customers (Hill and Jones, 2008). Importantly, the value gap analysis aids the marketing activities by enabling an organization to market its products/services by portraying high value for its offerings through its advertising campaigns (Shaw, 2012; Laermer and Simmons, 2007).
Advertising and communication is a very important part of any of the business due to the fact that there is an audience for the company where they have to communicate with the intention of gaining customers from the audience (Hill, 2006). Gaining the needed customers will make sure that they will be able to benefit from the process accordingly. One of the main benefits that they will reach in this case is growth of the business (Kerin, Hartley, & Rudelius, 2011). Medical laboratories, just like any of the other operations would have to justify their existence and make sure they contribute towards the well-being of the patients. Accordingly, such entities would need to create an identity for its products through efficient positioning (Shaw, 2012). This is because, an organization could help the consumers differentiate its services from the competitors through the medium of positioning – by positioning the services in a manner which would positively influence the perceived value of the services. (Hill, and Jones, 2008).
Managing relationships is an essential aspect of marketing; as maintaining healthy relationships with the various stakeholders would enable to enhance the marketing activities (Rossiter & Bellmann, 2005). In this context, it is necessary for organizations to engage in a series of activities that are implemented to encourage customer retention and engender customer loyalty, on a continuous basis (Kotler and Keller, 2009). Accordingly, enhanced interactions between the company and its stakeholders is of prime importance when efficiently managing relationships (Andreasen, 2006).
When performing relationship marketing activities an organization needs to use various mechanisms; such as direct (personal) interactions with customers, facilitating the customers to conveniently contact the organization and forward their feedback, (i.e. through customer care services), continuously interact with its other stakeholders (i.e. suppliers, employees, government, and surrounding community) and performing operations that would generate benefits for the stakeholders and the organization (ex: CSR activities) (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006; Rossiter & Bellmann, 2005). As a result, an organization would be able to generate a positive image in the minds of the customers and other stakeholders and thereby boost its reputation, whilst simultaneously developing strong and sustainable stakeholder relationships (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2011).
In terms of medical laboratories, it is important to communicate with the stakeholders by showing the nature of the services provided and the capabilities of the organization (Chan, Tsang and Leung, 2013). This could be attributed to the specialized capabilities each institution possesses – in terms of performing specific tests which are available only at a limited number of places (Lockett, and Blackman, 2004). This will allow the parties to select the medical labs in line with the needs they have. However, it is imperative for the organization to effectively communicate its capabilities to the market – especially by emphasizing on the benefits that the customers could derive by using its services (Lawlor and Prothero, 2008).
A main mode of communicating the capabilities of an organization is through upstream marketing. The importance of upstream marketing lies upon the aspect of addressing crucial factors that influence the behavior of individuals (Gordon, 2013). This involves considering the macroeconomic challenges faced by the marketers, and subsequently developing strategies to overcome such challenges and effectively influencing the behavior of the consumers (Niblett, 2005). Accordingly, this would require the marketers to consider the political, economic, social, and technological environment, and alter its marketing strategies accordingly. According to Kotler & Lee, (2007), by obtaining the corporation of the main stakeholders and executing a collaborative effort, an organization would be able to overcome the political and socio-economic barriers and generate change in the individual behaviors. In this context, measures such as lobbying and influencing the policy makers, gaining accreditation of recognized personnel who’s opinions influence the public’s perspectives, and gaining the accreditation and support of the professionals in the field, are key measures that could be used in upstream marketing (Gordon, 2013). Accordingly, it would be necessary gain the cooperation of professionals related to healthcare as well as the support of government and private organizations – in order to enhance customer awareness regarding the services and the capabilities of a medical laboratory (Horwitch et al., 2001) As a result, the marketing process would be made more convenient and efficient for the organization (Kotler & Lee, 2007).
When performing the marketing activities, it is necessary to relate it to the surrounding socio-economic environment (Seybold, 2014). This is due to the fact that consumption behavior of individuals could be directly influenced by illustrating that the organization offers its services in line with the purchasing capabilities as well as the socio-cultural beliefs of the consumers (Niblett, 2005). This would enable the marketers to perform the marketing activities with minimal barriers and to simultaneously ensure that the targeted customer segments attracted to the organization – due to effectively communicating the messages to the customers (Lambe, Wittmann, & Spekman, 2001). This is because, the marketers would be constantly interacting with the relevant parties and gaining first hand insights regarding the issues, deficiencies, and requirements in the contemporary market (Singh, and Smith, 2005). Conformance between the marketing strategies and the requirements of the stakeholders would help in ensuring that the marketers do no incur unwanted costs and that the expected benefits are derived through the investments made in the marketing campaigns (Singh, and Shukla, 2009). Consequently, strong relationships could be developed with the customers as well as other stakeholders, and thereby the investments on marketing would be productive in the long run (Thompson & Martin, 2010; Andreasen, 2006).
The main issues associated with the medical communication is that it is highly complex. This is because, it is essential to gain the support of the medical professionals; as they are one of the most important stakeholder groups who would impact the decision making process of the patients regarding their choice of laboratory (Mackert, and Harrison, 2009). It is of high importance that appropriate steps are taken to communicate with such professionals and develop sustainable relationships in a manner which would generate mutual benefits over the long term. The accreditation given by the medical professionals will allow laboratory service providers to build the increased presence in the markets that they cater for and ensure they become trusted parties who would provide reliable services (An and Kim, 2007).
In this context, the laboratories would have to build trust amongst the medical professionals by providing reliable and high quality services (Mackert et al., 2013). This would necessitate providing authentic and reliable test results to the patients, whilst ensuring that delays and errors are curbed. Provision of statistical data to the medical professionals would be a main strategy that could be employed to directly communicate with them and gain their confidence (Singh and Smith, 2005). Subsequently, direct and indirect advertising could be performed through the medical professionals – in terms of recommendations and advertisements at various private channeling centers. Building such long-term trust will enable such services providers to work with the medical professionals and ensure that they receive high level of benefits attached with the services that they provide (Koku, 2014).
However, it is important to note that the medical professionals are not the only party who is involved with the exercise. The patients also have a say in selecting the labs that they might like to use; their service experience, professionalism and other factors might impact them as well (Lockett, and Blackman, 2004). Thus it is important to make sure the patient relationships and communication also to take place in an effective manner. It is important that the lab plays a role in conjunction with the medical professional to serve the needs of the patients. Thus to achieve this, they have to make sure they provide best of the class medical care to the patients (Hoek and Maubach, 2005).
A main challenge that is faced by the laboratories is to make sure that each customer segment is communicated with suitable channels and the benefits are expressively illustrated. In this context, it is of immense importance that the right communication strategies are used in line with the targeted audience (Chimhanzi and Morgan, 2005). This will ensure that the massage that needs to be communicated is communicated as needed. It is evident that such communication strategies will benefit all the parties over the long term (Mackert and Harrison, 2009). If the communication strategies that the labs would select do not match with the expectations of the audiences, it is evident that the expected results might not be reached. This indicates that the communication strategies will have to be developed with the audience as well as the nature of the products and the services in mind (Fisher and Ronald, 2008). This will make sure that communication becomes highly effective in nature to achieve the results in expectation. Using the appropriate media is a vital factor in this context. This would necessitate the organizations to consider the ability of the customers to access such media and the availability of such media (Rossiter & Bellmann, 2005). In this context, the media that are used for the communication of the message need to be determined upon the predilections and capabilities of each customer segment. Accordingly, media such as online advertising would be highly effective to gain the attraction of the youth and middle aged persons, whilst pamphlets, newspaper advertisements, and TV advertisements would be effective in the process of attracting older persons (Dibb, & Simkin, 2013; Shaw, 2012; Lawlor, and Prothero, 2008). On the other hand, the failure to communicate in this manner will make it confusing for the audience to identify the message that is being communicated to them and thereby hinder the organization from deriving advantages through its advertising campaigns (Fisher and Ronald, 2008).
Another major aspect when performing advertising campaigns is determining the purpose of communicating certain aspects (Hoek and Maubach, 2005). Accordingly, the existence of many competitors would be a driving fact towards advertising the different service portfolio of the organization, the added capabilities, and the higher quality of services (Chan, Tsang, and Leung, 2013). This will allow the potential clients to identify the main benefits that they can gain by working with the said organization in comparison with the competing organizations (Laermer and Simmons, 2007). Also, other purposes such as generating awareness amongst the consumers, providing information regarding new facilities, and boosting the image of the company could be aligned with the advertising and communication activities (Singh, and Shukla, 2009). These aspects would have to be advertised by using appropriate media (i.e. electronic and/or print media), and the manner in which they are being communicated would determine the extent to which the advertising campaign was successful or not (Mackert et al., 2013).
The discussion indicates that there are many aspects that have to be considered when formulating an appropriate communication strategy and the organizations will have to select the appropriate methods for communication in line with its contemporary marketing objectives (Koku, 2014). Accordingly, the medium of advertising should be aligned with the goals of the organization as well as with the ability of the targeted customer segment(s) to access such media and effectively comprehend the message (Hill, 2006). Thus the clarity of the message as well as its ability to capture the attention of the audience is of high importance when performing advertising campaigns (Kerin, 2012).
The marking mix could be used as the key strategy to ensure the efficiency of the marketing activities (Shaw, 2012). This involves focusing on the 4 P’s (product, price, place, and promotion).
Product – This refers to the product/service that is being offered to the customers. It is necessary for the service to be attractive and convenient to use and its perceived value needs to be increased constantly (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006). In this context, emphasis should laid on aspects such as the quality and reliability of the services provided, when marketing the services (Shaw, 2012).
Price – This refers to the price at which the services are provided to the customers. Accordingly, the prices need to be set in line with the ability and willingness of the consumers (i.e. target market segments) to purchase (Borden, 1984). Competitive pricing could be used to gain advantage over the competitors – especially by enabling the consumers to compare the prices through the marketing campaigns (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006).
Place – This entails positioning the products in a location that is conveniently accessible to the consumers (Rossiter & Bellmann, 2005). Accordingly, the location of the laboratories need to be accessible without much hassle, whilst consumers should be able to interact with the entity through more convenient methods (ex: online) (Mackert et al., 2013).
Promotion – This refers to the media used to advertise the product. Accordingly, media such as TV advertisements, online advertisements, newspaper advertisements, and advertisements in magazines and journals would be highly beneficial (Kotler and Armstrong, 2006). Also, sponsoring certain aspects in the field of medicine would enable the organizations to increase awareness regarding the services they provide, whilst word of mouth and CSR activities would help in reaching out to a larger number of customers (Mackert et al., 2013; Laermer and Simmons, 2007; Lockett, and Blackman, 2004).
The literature illustrates that aligning the marketing activities with the organizational objectives is critical towards the success of an organization. Also, it is essential to gain the support of professionals in the field and of regulatory entities when performing marketing activities. Moreover, it is necessary to consider the different attributes of the targeted consumer segments when choosing the media of performing the advertising campaigns. The next chapter depicts the methodology used to conduct the research.
This chapter depicts the manner in which the study would be performed. It discusses several theoretical aspects pertaining to the methods used to conduct the study – in terms of the research design, research procedures, and the development of the questionnaire for the research. Also it would illustrate aspects pertaining to the manner in which data was collected, how the data would be presented and the manner in which the information (derived through many sources) would be analyzed.
In the event of identifying the philosophical dimension of the research it is necessary to understand the research through its research design. In this context, it is necessary to determine the suitability of the design of the research. This entails adopting certain assumptions by the researchers, in terms of the perceptions of the stakeholders of the research and the consequent outcomes that the research would generate (Easterby, Thorpe, & Jackson, 2008). In this context, when choosing the preferred methods of conducting the research the standpoint of researcher and the knowledge and information gathered through various processes would be the main factors that would affect the outcomes of the research. This refers to the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in order to identify the practical and theoretical aspects pertaining to the study and its alignment with each other. At the same time the interpretations made by the researcher would depict the point of view of the researcher in terms of the information gathered through the quantitative and qualitative approaches.
The research thereby intends to use scientific method of positivism. Accordingly, the method of positivism involves assuming a stable reality that could be measured and observed in a systematic way. This in turn would assist the findings of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the research (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2007). This is an independent approach and thereby it quantitatively measures independent facts in order to determine its applicability in practical scenarios. This enables in authenticating the data gathered and enables the researcher to make objective conclusions regarding the outcomes (Petty, Thomson, & Stew, 2012). Also, this method helps other researchers to verify the facts of the study through experimental exercises, without being influenced by the prior research. In this context, the method of positivism would enable this research to forward authentic facts which could be further clarified by other researchers in the future.
A framework for the collection and analysis of data is provided by the design of the research. Accordingly, the theoretical structure and the strategy and plan which would be used to conduct the research would be illustrated through its design (Jankowicz, 2005). Accordingly, the different interpretations pertaining to the marketing activities would be depicted through the literary sources whilst the field research would identify the practical implications of the theoretical aspects as well as other new areas that could be identified. In this context, the basic elements of a research design involve; exploration, experimentation, diagnosis, and description. These elements would aid in providing answers to the problem of the research – by determining the data that needs to be collected, gathering relevant data from appropriate sources, and interpreting the data in a manner which would enable to justify the hypothesis whilst simultaneously forwarding opinions for further improvements in the relevant field.
The methodology section has to develop with a number of focuses in place. This refers to focusing on the accuracy of the outcomes of the study and developing valid conclusions. There are many factors that might impact the study and the related outcomes. Adopting an appropriate approach will make sure that the outcomes will meet the needed accuracy levels. This will allow the study to generate suitable recommendations that will provide beneficial outcomes to the parties who participate in the discussion. Thus the formulation of the methodology is an important part.
In this context, the research mainly uses the qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative research method helps in conducting an in-depth exploration of the subject matter. This in turn enables to obtain a broader understanding of the issue. However, the qualitative method involves a subjective assessment of the subject as it contains the insights of others which have been derived through theoretical sources or through empirical evidence. This illustrates that the qualitative aspects have a major impact on the study in terms of determining its validity and obtaining supporting material to base the study upon.
On the other hand, since marketing is an aspect which is subjected to constant change, the strategies that are applicable and beneficial in different circumstances need to be ascertained by gathering empirical evidence. This necessitates the study to use the quantitative approach in order to gauge the validity of the findings of the qualitative research and also to identify strategies that are applicable in the contemporary environment. An inductive as well as deductive approach is used in this context, in order to identify if the data gathered and analyzed through the research conforms to the theoretical underpinnings. Accordingly, the quantitative method uses statistics to analyze the empirical findings. This in turn helps in validating or invalidating the hypotheses through information gathered. Some key features of this method is that it could be repeated by other researchers in different circumstances – in order to determine its applicability – whilst maintaining the anonymity of the respondents and minimizing bias to sensitive questions. This method also enables to derive specific responses for the aspects in question whilst ensuring that the information pertaining to the relevant subject is being obtained effectively (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2007). Further, by applying this method by directly interacting with the respondents, errors that occur due to misunderstandings and illiteracy of the respondents, could be overcome. However, it is essential for researchers to ensure that the responses are not being forced into the respondents and that the questions that are forwarded are directly applicable to the study. Also, the target population needs to be chosen from a wide range of stakeholders who are directly associated to and affected by the subject matter of the research. This in turn enables to ensure the validity, reliability and statistical significance of the study.
As the aforementioned factors illustrate the importance of using qualitative and quantitative methods, this research intends to use both methods in order to optimize its validity and applicability. Accordingly, the research has used relevant literature (in the literature review) to enumerate the qualitative aspects, whilst a questionnaire is being used to gather data relevant to the subject, from personnel involved in the medical laboratory industry.
There are five laboratories selected for the study from Abu Dhabi area. The main information areas have to be selected to make sure the study reaches the goals and the objectives in place. The following diagram indicates the main framework that will be in place when it comes to collection of the information for the study.
Each of these areas will indicate as to how the labs are structuring their advertisement strategies. This will eventually reveal the benefits that they can achieve through this and how they will eventually benefit from the process over the long run. In order to make sure the details are collected a suitable field material format has to be developed. This will allow the basis for collection of the information from various parties and benefit from the process over the long term.
The sampling technique of judgment sampling is used in this context. Accordingly, the researcher chooses the sample of participants thought to be the most appropriate for the study. This is mainly due to the time constraints and the existence of many laboratories to choose from. For the study, the main respondents will have to be selected from the medical laboratories. There should be more than a single person selected for the purpose. As the respondents have to know the field well, they are selected based on the contacts that are in place. Thus the sample selection is purposive in nature. However, as they will be able to provide the needed information about the area, this is not expected to impact the accuracy levels of the study. Accordingly, five main laboratories in Abu Dhabi have been chosen and their employees have be chosen as respondents. There are six respondents at minimum – from each laboratory – selected for the discussion. Accordingly, a total of 30 respondents would be chosen for the research. They will be able to provide information about the advertising strategies they are using. This enables researchers to select the target population that would be most appropriate to answer the research questions and ensure that the objectives of the research are accomplished.
The study gathered data through primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include the information obtained through the responses of the survey. This would be the basic premise for developing the conclusions and implications of the research; as the data has been derived through empirical research. The secondary data entails the information gathered through previous researches on the subject, through books, journals, websites, and newspaper articles. This helps in supporting the findings of the primary data and in analysing the conformity of the primary data with the secondary data.
The questionnaire of the research was designed well as a structured one in order to derive specific responses for the questions. This helps in overcoming the ambiguities that could arise due to open ended questions and directly aligns the responses with the objectives of the research. As a result, the answers gathered through the questionnaire could be easily quantified and thereby used analyse and forward authentic data.
The data gathered through the questionnaire would be documented by using the Microsoft Excel software. This would help in comparing the responses against each other, whilst simultaneously depicting any possible relationship with the intended variables for analysis. As a result, an in-depth understanding regarding the manner in which the marketing/advertising techniques are used in organizations, and the subsequent outcomes could be obtained.
The validity of the data could be confirmed since it would be gained by obtaining responses from professionals in the field. This is because, they would possess a good understanding regarding the marketing strategies and their ramifications on the business. The reliability of the data is ensured since the researchers would be personally interacting with the respondents and ensuring the confidentiality of the information provided. Maintaining the anonymity of the respondents would enable them to answer the questions honestly. Moreover, since the questions are directly aligned with the purposes and aims of the study and as statistical analyses are used to enumerate the evidence, the information gathered would be valid and reliable. Increased levels of accuracy are the result and this leads to better set of recommendations generation. Such recommendations will provide beneficial results and the implementation will benefit all the parties in consideration in this case.
There are a number of limitations to the study. Initially, the trust of the respondents had to be gained in order for them to provide appropriate responses. On the other hand, the sample selected needed to represent of the target audience. In this context, the study had to limit the number of respondents to 30 due to the time limitations and the inability to interact with more respondents due to the lack of personal contacts. However, the study methods that have been used here are developed to minimize the impact of the limitations and maximize the benefits that are associated with the study.
This chapter depicted the design of the research, the processes used to conduct the research, and the how the research questionnaire would enable to achieve the objectives of the study. Despite several limitations, the study would be able to achieve increased levels of accuracy, and thereby ensure its validity and reliability. The next chapter discusses the findings of the study and analyses the subsequent outcomes.
In the process of achieving the research objectives the study needs to initially analyze the data obtained through the survey. Subsequently, it needs to discuss the information in comparison with the theoretical aspects illustrated in the literature review. Accordingly, the data obtained through the survey are being used as the platform of discussion in this chapter, and it is being enumerated through graphs and statistical terms. The questionnaire used for the study is annexed at the end of the report. This would depict the extent to which the main aspects of marketing medical laboratories are being applied in the context medical laboratories in the UAE. The initial section of this chapter reveals the statistical analysis whilst the ensuing section analyses the theoretical aspects. Hence, the relevance of the quantitative factors and qualitative factors would be analyzed henceforth.
1. Classification of respondents
The questionnaire initially depicts the number of employees, mid-level managers, and top level management that took part in the survey. The results are as follows.
Accordingly, the data illustrates that respondents consisted of 30% of employees, 43% of mid-level management, and 27% of top level management. This is because, although the top level managers make decisions pertaining to the marketing strategies of the organization, it is the mid-level managers and the employees who have to practically implement such strategies. Further, the mid-level managers bear the responsibility of administering the efficiency of the marketing activities and they need to provide feedback and recommendations to the top level managers.
2. Understanding regarding marketing activities
The survey identified the different levels of understanding regarding their firm’s marketing activities, of each of the aforementioned category of personnel (i.e. employees, mid-level managers, and top level managers). This revealed the following results.
|Employees||Mid-level Managers||Top Management|
|Very good understanding||23%||48%||95%|
Accordingly, the data illustrates that most of the employees possess a good understanding regarding the marketing activities of their respective firm. Importantly, 98% of the mid- level managers have a clear idea regarding the marketing activities and this depicts that the responses of the mid-level managers would be highly accurate in terms of the advertising strategies used by their companies. Finally, the understanding level of the top management regarding their marketing activities is very high, and it ensures that the top management would reveal accurate information pertaining to the efficiency of their marketing process and the strategies that they currently use and intend to use in the future.
3. Does the firm have an effective marketing strategy?
|Employees||Mid-level Managers||Top Management|
The table above depicts that a large majority of the employees as well as the mid-level managers agree that their firm’s marketing strategy is effective. As all the top level managers have accepted the fact regarding the effectiveness of their marketing strategy, it could be said that their agreement would be based on the fact that they formulate the marketing strategies. On the other hand, the high level of acceptance by the employees and the mid-level managers reveal that according to their perceptions the marketing strategies have been effective in deriving the desired outcomes. This is a highly important aspect which needs to be considered since the employees and mid-level managers are the persons who implement the marketing strategies, and they have realized through experience the effectiveness of the strategies. Importantly, the low level of uncertainty amongst the employees and mid-level managers could be attributed to their lack of knowledge and experience regarding marketing strategies.
4. Alignment of marketing strategies with corporate objectives
The chart below illustrates the extent to which the marketing activities are aligned with the corporate objectives, according to the perceptions of the respondents.
The responses of the employees, mid-level managers, and top level managers are very much similar as they believe that their firm has aligned its corporate objectives with the marketing strategies. However, the responses of the mid-level and top level managers which say that the alignment is only to a certain extent reveals that the corporate objectives and marketing strategies are pursued independently to a small degree. This is mainly to avoid conflicts that could occur between the two aspects. As a result, accomplishment of corporate objectives could be ensured whilst simultaneously implementing the marketing strategies with minimal impediments.
5. Level of effectiveness of the marketing strategy
The effectiveness of the marketing strategy is highly important when ensuring that the aspired benefits are achieved. In this context, the perceptions regarding the effectiveness of the marketing strategies of the respective laboratories could be depicted as follows.
According to the results illustrated above, the effectiveness of the marketing strategies of the respective firms remains at a level above average. However, the level of effectiveness is not very high, when considering the perceptions of the respondents. This illustrates that although the marketing strategies are effective, only some of the marketing strategies are able to generate outcomes beyond the expectations, whilst the other strategies enable the organizations to simply meet their marketing goals.
6. Employee inclusion in developing marketing strategies
The table below enumerates the level of employee inclusion in the process of developing marketing strategies at the organizations taken into consideration.
|Employees||Mid-level Managers||Top Management|
|To a certain extent||48%||46%||42%|
The responses of all three categories of respondents reveal a similar pattern. Accordingly, they hold the perception that employees are included into the decision making process only to a certain extent. In this context, employees are consulted regarding marketing strategies only regarding certain rudimentary aspects whilst they are being left aside when making major decisions pertaining to the marketing strategies. This is because, the employees are mainly accountable to the mid-level managers and the decisions regarding whether the ideas of the employees should be given consideration is made by the mid-level managers. As a result, the ability of employees to directly influence the marketing strategies of their firms is restricted to a large extent. On the other hand, the mid-level managers directly report to the top management and thereby their ideas are given consideration to a certain degree. However, since the top level managers are the final decision makers, they consider the information gathered from the mid-level managers and use their own cognizance when establishing marketing strategies.
7. Strategies used by the organizations in the marketing process
The results of these strategies are depicted by considering the responses as a whole, and not in terms of the responses by each category of the responding personnel. This is because, it is necessary to obtain a holistic idea regarding the implementation of marketing strategies of the industry, and thereby focusing on the individual perceptions would not reveal the actual picture regarding the strategies. Accordingly, the chart below illustrates the strategies that are used intensely and strategies that are used only to a certain degree.
The data pertaining to the strategies depicts the extent to which the firms intend to enhance their market share, their customer attraction, competitive advantage, customer centricity, and financial profitability. Accordingly, the data reveals that firms lays high emphasis on market penetration and market expansion. This is because, the firms that are in the early stages of the business intend to enhance their market share, whilst firms that have been operating for a considerable time in the industry seek to expand their business activities by entering into new markets.
Laying a relatively high emphasis on customization reveals that the laboratories have adopted customer centric marketing strategies and thereby seek to improve its marketing activities by catering to diverse but specific requirements of the customers. This enables the laboratories to portray an image of being an entity which is conscious about and caters to the diverse needs of the customers.
On the other hand, the laboratories have adopted the strategy of product differentiation to a certain extent, in order to illustrate their capabilities to the customers and to gain advantage over the customers. Accordingly, focus is laid on providing laboratory services that are not provided by the competing entities. However, this aspect could be tedious since the firms operating in the laboratory industry in UAE are able adopt new technologies and provide similar service. Yet, this strategy could be effective in the long term – especially when the competing firms are unable to adapt quickly to changes in the business environment (due to internal and external constraints).
The strategy of market skimming is used to a very low level since the competing firms are able to offer services of similar quality at almost the same prices. This restricts the ability of the laboratories to provide their services at low prices, whilst simultaneously generating profits. Hence, market skimming is a strategy which is not given much consideration by the laboratories.
8. How often the marketing strategy is revised
This aspect reveals the time period in which the firms generally alter their marketing strategies. It is important to identify the frequency of changing the marketing strategies, since it would depict how long a certain set of strategies are beneficial to a company and whether the industry requires constant changing of marketing strategies in order to be effective.
According to the data enumerated in the graph above, the firms in the medical laboratory industry tend to revise their marketing strategies mostly on an annual basis. This is due to the changing market dynamics which requisites the firms to adopt new strategies in order to remain competitive and to ensure that its marketing and organizational goals are accomplished successfully.
The revision of marketing strategies within the period of every 6 months to one year could be attributed to the necessity of adopting new strategies to cope with unprecedented situations or sudden changes in the market environment. However, such changes are not as substantial as the changes that take place on an annual basis.
The changes that occur within the period of 1 to 5 years are mainly associated with the firms that rely on specific marketing strategies for a certain period of time, and thereby do not take any major steps to revise their strategies. Importantly, the research reveals that this kind of approach is very seldom followed by firms. Also, revisions are very rarely made once in 5 years since the organizations need to adapt quickly to the changing market conditions and formulate their marketing strategies in line with the improvements of the competitors. Importantly, none of the organizations represented by the respondents revealed revision of marketing strategies after a period of five years. Hence, the organizations taken into consideration depict a high level of flexibility in altering their marketing strategies in line with the requirements of the market.
9. Main marketing approaches
Since organizations use several marketing approaches simultaneously, the questionnaire enabled the respondents to provide multiple answers to the question regarding the main marketing approaches used by their firms. This would help in identifying the marketing approaches that are vividly used in the medical laboratory industry. The table below provides a statistical representation of this.
|Door to door marketing||1%|
|Advertisements on newspapers and magazines||15%|
|Word of mouth||14%|
|Engaging in promotional activities||12%|
According to the results of the responses, the main modes of marketing include advertising through electronic media. This could be attributed to the high level of online marketing and TV advertisements. However, radio advertisements is at a minimum level, whilst door to door marketing is very rarely used. There is also a relatively high usage of print media advertising since the laboratories advertise their services through advertisements in newspapers and magazines.
It is important to note that the laboratories rely on the approach of using word of mouth as a marketing approach. This is because, they intend to maximize customer satisfaction and also gain the accreditation of the medical professionals in order increase awareness and attraction amongst the customers regarding their services. Also, a relatively similar emphasis is laid on marketing the services by engaging in promotional activities. This entails providing the customers concessionary rates for the services or offering additional services at the same price. As a result of such promotional activities the laboratories could ensure that they do not lose customers – especially in times of economic downturns and/or when attraction towards the competitors increase.
Significantly, a considerable emphasis is laid on lobbying as well. This is aimed at gaining the support of the government and regulatory authorities, whilst also generating healthy relationships with public and private entities. As a result of employing this approach, the laboratories are able to attract a steady customer base – due to the aforementioned institutions directing their employees to obtain medical testing services from the laboratories considered in this context. Moreover, the companies tend to occasionally engage in CSR activities in order to portray a social conscious image.
10. Main criteria used to segment customers
The laboratories need to adopt a certain criteria when segmenting their customers. Accordingly, they would have to concentrate on aspects such as the age of the customers, income levels of customers, and location of customers, when determining the manner which customers would be segmented. It is important to note that the laboratories could segment the customers basing on each individual fact mentioned above, or by using them in unison. In this context, the following diagram shows the criteria which the laboratories mainly use in customer segmentation.
According to the diagram the laboratories mainly use age, income, and location as a whole, when segmenting customers. This is because, all these factors contribute in different degrees towards helping in targeting the customers. In this context, the different age groups of customers are being identified and the customers belonging to the age group who would generate the most benefits, could be recognized. Also, the customers belonging to different income levels are identified and the customers belonging to the income level which would be able and willing to use the laboratory’s services are determined. Also, the location is considered basing on the customer’s proximity to the laboratory facilities and their inclination to use the services.
11. Main customer segments targeted – basing on age, income, and location
a) By age
The results derived through the previous question depicts that considerable emphasis is laid on segmenting customers basing on their age. Accordingly, the following diagram would illustrate which age groups are mostly targeted by the laboratories.
The above data reveals that the laboratories mainly lay focus on people belonging to the age groups over 30. In this context, high emphasis is laid on the age group of 46-55 since these are middle aged persons who would require medical tests on a regular basis. Also, people belonging to the said age group as well as people in the age group of 31-45 are people who would be engaging in steady employment, and thereby targeting such persons would entail developing relationships with the private and public organizations who would direct their employees to use the laboratory services – especially basing on the health insurance scheme. In this context, the laboratories focus on increasing its number of customers by targeting persons who are mostly employed, and in an age range which requires medical testing on a regular basis.
Also, laying considerable emphasis on people over the age of 55 illustrates that the laboratories intend to attract retired persons, who would essentially require medical testing, due the ailments they would be experiencing as a result of old age. As a result, the laboratories would need to generate cohesive relationships with the doctors who cater to such segments, as it would subsequently enable them to benefit through these customers.
b) By income level
Identifying the consumer segments that would be able to afford the laboratory services is an important aspect when targeting customers. The chart below depicts the level of emphasis laid on customers belonging to different income levels.
The chart reveals that low emphasis is laid on relatively low income earning segments, whilst high emphasis is laid on mid and high income earning segments. This is because, the laboratories need to ensure that their customers would be able to afford their services whilst simultaneously providing the services at generally affordable prices. Accordingly, mid income earning segments would consist of persons who are general employees or mid-level managers in organizations. On the other hand, high income earners would include businessmen and executives of organizations.
As the laboratories would be providing high quality services, they would need to charge the customers according to the services provided, and ensure that the customers would be able to afford the costs. Hence, the prices would be set according to the ability of customers to obtain services on a regular basis, whilst ensuring that the prices do not burden the customers in terms of financial expenditure. As a result, the laboratories would be able to cater to a broader range of customers who would be able to use their services repeatedly. This in turn would enable the laboratories to ensure that they achieve their financial objectives.
c) By location
The location segmentation is important in the context of identifying how the proximity of the customers would affect the marketing activities. The following table portrays the level of emphasis laid on customers who reside or work within a specific distance from the outlets of the laboratories.
|In very close proximity (within 1km)||39%|
|In the range of 1km – 5km||33%|
|In the range of 5km – 10km||22%|
According to the data above, the laboratories focus mainly on customers living (or working) in very close proximity (i.e. within 1km) and close proximity (i.e. 1km-5km). This is because, such persons would be able to easily access the facilities of the laboratory and at the same time, the laboratory would be able to reach out and develop cohesive relationships with customers living within the aforementioned distances. However, considerable emphasis is laid on the customers living in the range of 5km-10km since they would be able to access the laboratory without much hassle. The reason for laying low emphasis on persons living beyond the distance of 10km is that such persons would only visit the laboratories if they cannot obtain the desired services from other laboratories that are situated close to their residence or place of work.
12. Main evaluation mechanisms
The graph above depicts that the laboratories mainly conduct their evaluations on a quarterly basis whilst annual and monthly evaluations are also given considerable emphasis. This is because, the quarterly evaluations help in identifying the success of the marketing strategies by collecting data within an adequate time period, and thereby help in determining the measures that need to be taken in order to achieve the annual goals. On the other hand the monthly evaluations enables to determine the short term success of the marketing strategies and the immediate changes that need to be made, whilst annual evaluations help in identifying monthly and quarterly trends and in determining long term strategies.
13. Strategies used to identify customer requirements and perceptions
The table below illustrates the main strategies used by the laboratories in identifying the requirements and perceptions of customers in order to formulate and/or alter its marketing tactics.
|Research and development||21%|
|Regular interactions with customers||19%|
|All of the above||40%|
The results reveal that almost similar emphasis is laid on research and development, customer interactions, and customer feedback. However, the significant aspect is that laboratories mainly use a mixture of all these methods. As a result, the laboratories are able to not only identify the requirements and perceptions of customers, but also generate close relationships with the customers whilst simultaneously adopting new marketing strategies in line with the changing market dynamics.
14. Indicators of marketing success
The marketing success of the laboratories are assessed based on the outcomes of different aspects. The graph below illustrates the manner in which the laboratories gauge their marketing success.
According to the results, high emphasis is laid on increase in the number of customers and increase in sales and profits. It could be said these are intertwined factors as increase in customers helps in enhancing the financial profitability. Also, a relatively high emphasis is laid on the growth in the market share since the entities intend to enhance their position in the market.
15. Main aspect that could have a high influence on the firm’s marketing activities
|Using innovative technology||20%|
|Constantly altering the strategies to suit the market environment||30%|
|Increasing awareness of customers||28%|
|The image of the company||22%|
The above table illustrates that most of the respondents believe that their firms could enhance their marketing activities by constantly altering the strategies to suit the market environment and by increasing customer awareness. Importantly, the emphasis laid on the boosting the company’s image and the use of innovative technology is at a relatively high level. In this context, it could be deduced that the firms lay considerable emphasis on all the four factors mentioned above, and that certain aspects have been given higher emphasis due to the marketing requirements of the respective laboratories.
The analysis of the results obtained through the research revealed that the organizations taken into consideration have employed effective marketing strategies, which are aligned with their organizational objectives. This is because, the laboratories intend to increase their customer base, increase financial profits, and enhance their market share. As a result focus is laid on customer attraction, successful financial performance, and gaining advantage over the competitors in the market. The laboratories also lay emphasis on the marketing mix – as discussed in the literature review – by targeting customers who seek high quality services at reasonable prices and are able to afford the services. Also, the positioning of the services is considered by targeting customers who are in close proximity to the laboratories. Importantly, the marketing strategies conform to the theoretical aspects illustrated in the literature, since focus is laid on aspects such as market expansion, market penetration, and customization. This illustrates that the laboratories are adopting a customer centric approach in conducting their marketing activities, whilst simultaneously focusing on gaining competitive advantage.
The results also conform to the literary sources in terms of the need to revise the marketing strategies and evaluate the success of the marketing strategies, within a reasonable time period. Also, the approaches or techniques used to advertise are highly relevant to the modern context as well as with the prior research conducted in this regards. This refers to the effective use of electronic and print media, whilst also using indirect methods of advertising (such as; word of mouth, promotions, and lobbying). A significant aspect that is conforms to the literature is the constant interactions with the customers in order to develop and maintain strong relationships and to identify customer requirements through constant research and customer feedback. Finally, the need to alter the marketing strategies in line with the changing market environment is emphasized through both the qualitative and quantitative research. This is aligned with the need to increase customer awareness, enhance the image of the company, and adopt innovative technologies, in order to attract a high number of customers, provide high quality services, and portray reliability of the entity.
The chapter illustrates that the results of the quantitative research conform to the findings of the qualitative research. This provides validity to the survey conducted. The next chapter discusses the conclusions and implications of the research, and the recommendations that could be made.
The research reveals that the marketing strategies that need to be employed by laboratories are related to strategies that are employed by service providing organizations in other industries – albeit small differences. Accordingly, aspects such as marketing segmentation and targeting comply with the general marketing strategies. In this context, identifying the neglected consumer segments, the size of the segments, ability of the consumers to meet the organizational goals, and the competitive nature of the market, would enable an organization to choose the most appropriate consumer segment/s which its needs to target. This would enable in developing appropriate marketing strategies. Also, the marketing/advertising approaches that need to be used by the laboratory service providers (i.e. electronic and print media advertising, promotions, word of mouth, etc) are in line with the approaches used by service providers in the modern markets. This illustrates the general applicability of such approaches. On the other hand, the aspect that distinguishes the marketing strategies of the laboratories from other services is the use of the marketing mix. This is applicable when targeting consumers, determining the service portfolio, setting prices, positioning and delivery of services, the nature of customer interactions, etc.
It is noteworthy that the results of the quantitative research has revealed conformity to evidence derived through the secondary data. This is because the quantitative research was performed by obtaining the responses of professionals in the field, who have a good understanding regarding marketing activities of laboratories. It indicates that the reliability and validity of the research is high. Also, the research enumerates factors that marketers in UAE’s medical laboratory industry could use to mitigate the impacts of the stiff competition in the future. Hence, the research provides a framework for further development of marketing strategies in medical laboratories.
Since the research was subjected to certain limitations – in terms of time constraints and inability to choose a larger sample population – it would be appropriate to conduct further research in this field by including a larger sample population. This would illustrate broader perspectives regarding the manner in which marketing activities are conducted in small and medium scale laboratories, as well as in other larger scale laboratories. Also, it would be necessary to study the marketing strategies of laboratories that operate in other areas of UAE. As a result, a more holistic idea regarding the overall laboratory industry could be obtained.
Another deficiency of the research is using only a structure questionnaire. This could have restricted the respondents from forwarding other relevant ideas and suggestions. In this context, it would be appropriate to conduct further research using a questionnaire which has both open ended and structured questions. Also, it would be beneficial to conduct one-to-one interviews with marketing professionals in the field of medical laboratories and gain an in-depth understanding regarding the marketing strategies and techniques that are not generally discussed. This would help in identifying more enhanced marketing strategies and the benefits they could generate for individual entities, the industry as a whole, as well as to the field of marketing.
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My research intends to explore the impact of various marketing strategies pertaining to laboratories. I would be greatly appreciate if you could take a few moments to complete the following survey to help me with my detailed research, since your opinions are a critical part of research and are highly valued. I assure that your responses will be strictly confidential and used only for the purpose of this research.
1. In what capacity do you work at your organization?
|3||Top level management|
2. How is your understanding regarding your firm’s marketing activities?
|5||Very good understanding|
3. Do you believe that your company has an effective marketing strategy?
4. Is your company’s marketing strategy aligned with its corporate objectives?
|3||To a certain extent|
5. How effective do you think your firm’s marketing strategy is?
6. Are employees included when developing marketing strategies?
|3||To a certain extent|
7. What strategies are used by your company in its marketing process?
8. How often does the company revise its marketing strategy?
|2||Once in 10 years|
|3||Once in 5 years|
|4||Between 1-5 years|
|6||Every 6 months to 1 year|
9. What are the main marketing approaches used by your company?
|1||Door to door marketing|
|5||Advertisements on newspapers and magazines|
|6||Word of mouth|
|7||Engaging in promotional activities|
10. What is the main criteria used to segment customers by your firm?
|4||All of the above|
11. What are main customer segments targeted by your company?
a) Basing on age
|1||Infants to 10 years|
|3||16 – 30|
|4||31 – 45|
|5||46 – 55|
|6||55 and above|
b) Basing on income
|1||500 – 1000|
|2||1000 – 2500|
|3||2500 – 5000|
|4||5000 and above|
c) Basing on location
|1||In very close proximity (within 1km)|
|2||In the range of 1km – 5km|
|3||In the range of 5km – 10km|
12. What are the main evaluation mechanisms used in your marketing process? You can choose multiple answers.
|5||All of the above|
13. What are the strategies used to identify customer requirements and perceptions?
|1||Research and development|
|2||Regular interactions with customers|
|4||All of the above|
14. What are used as the main indicators for the success of the marketing campaigns? You can choose multiple answers.
|1||Increase in the number of customers|
|2||Increase in sales and profits|
|4||Growth in market share|
|5||Feedback from stakeholders|
15. In your opinion what is the main aspect that could have a high influence on your firm’s marketing activities?
|1||Using innovative technology|
|2||Constantly altering the strategies to suit the market environment|
|3||Increasing awareness of customers|
|4||The image of the company|
Thank you for your assistance in completing this questionnaire.