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Chapter 3: Summary
An understanding of the environment is important for the marketer. Social, technological, economic, political, and ecological factors can have a major impact on the firm’s opportunities and threats. Key social and cultural elements to consider are the redefinition of occupations, a societal trend toward postmaterialism, and major demographic shifts. In the area of technology, the outlook for marketers is likely to be thoroughly changed by transformations in information processing and the subsequent shifts in business practices as well as the emergence of new materials, new biotechnological products, and growing environmental concerns. In the economic area, increasing globalization, regional integration, and exchange rate effects represent major influences on marketing practice. The political environment is characterized by legislative and regulatory actions that influence the firm but that can also be influenced by the firm. However, the political arena is also increasingly defined by the activities of special-interest groups whose actions can have a major effect on firms. Furthermore, the marketer is likely to be required, either by regulation or by good marketing sense, to take into account various stakeholders beyond the shareholders if the firm and its products are to remain acceptable to society at large. The ecological background of the target market also needs to be considered, in order to satisfy contemporary ethical customers.
To deal with the environment, the firm must first analyze and understand it. Such analysis can be accomplished by environmental scanning, Delphi studies, and scenario building. To understand the competition, however, the firm must evaluate more specific issues such as market structure, products and production processes, and industrial changes taking place.
After understanding these dimensions, the firm can achieve a successful strategic position through economies of scale, political clout, and captive distribution systems. Firms that are unable to win the competitive battle in the field of commerce, in particular, are increasingly seeking victory in the halls of government. Building and maintaining a successful position also requires an understanding of the likely competitive response from adversaries and the different strategies that leaders and followers can employ. Overall, you should remember that as difficult as it may be to maintain a leadership position, it is even harder to be a profitable follower.