Case Study #2: Campus Calendar Executive Summary Collegiate Images (CI) is a start-up envisioned by eight college students. They have a small amount of starting capital and face a handful of key product and operational decisions.
They have settled on making a calendar with images of students in it. How they go about this is key, their relative success will be immediately apparent and their initial set of decisions will be critical to the entire endeavor. They have collected some data and are aware of the fixed costs of setup and production.
CI needs to understand the basic factors of their enterprise and not become too focused on their data to such an extent that they use it guide all decision making, they need to retain a basic understanding of product offerings and likely buyer behavior in fall 2009. They are in the calendar business, they have niche content, and they have a handful of college based market segments to cater to. Situation Analysis Environment Economic conditions and trends
The current recession is affecting all Americans in a variety of ways, but within the college campus of Eastern Washington University the disposable income a student would spend on a novelty calendar is unlikely to be severely threatened by the current economic crisis.
The primary concern for CI is the basic limitations imposed by the calendar business itself. The initial fall launch and the gift buying season preceding the holidays is critical. After the middle of January the demand for calendars falls off tremendously.
Calendar stores are effective seasonal and the window for sales is short and focused. College students now handle most of their organizational and reminder needs electronically.
The calendar application on a phone or computer is going to be the first choice of many. The CI calendar is going to have to succeed as novelty item, more akin to a poster than a scheduling tool. It needs to have the right production value to support this aim. Cultural and social values What CI needs to remember is that their concept isn’t most likely to succeed based on innovation.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, no matter how enticing it may be. CI needs to look around and see the clear direction laid out by other campus calendars and the calendar business in general.
The most popular, talked about and available campus calendars in the marketplace are overwhelming coed swimsuit calendars. Their data does not entirely point to this out, but the larger context does. The notion that a calendar of attractive men would appeal to women, or a calendar of attractive men and women would appeal to both is not without some merit.
However, the calendar market clearly shows less success and prevalence of either option, when compared to a traditional swimsuit or partially dressed coed calendar. The use of men in calendars is far more limited and is typically based on the relative celebrity status of the men pictured. This isn’t an option for CI.
There is a tradition of provocative firemen calendars that could be used as a positive example, but when you compare it to the business success of female swimsuit calendars it is significantly less attractive. Legal and political issues
The calendar project, especially since it is launched in a collegiate environment, will undoubtedly draw some criticism that it is sexist in its conception and contributes to the objectification of women, and or men. Dealing with this criticism in a professional and effective way will of course be helpful to CI. Summary of opportunities and threats CI needs to look at what works within the existing and successful calendar business. The money to buy their product will be there if they keep their strategy focused and they don’t attempt to defy accepted calendar convention based on a sample student questionnaire.
Implications for strategy development CI should really focus on the proven strategies demonstrated by the established calendar industry and other successful campus calendars.
The notion of creating something well executed that appeals across gender lines sounds like the best strategy to capture the largest market, but the real world examples of that successfully employed pale in comparison to the market predominance of coed swimsuit calendars. Since college sports fans and alumni are also potential customers it’s important to reach them as well. A tactically planned and buzz-worthy promotional and selling strategy is also a key component.
Industry Classification and definition of industry CI is selling campus calendars to students, alumni and the public. They are in the calendar business with a niche offering.
The collegiate students are their calendar models and primary audience. The campus calendar is primarily a novelty item, but it does also fill the basic functions of a standard wall calendar. Analysis of existing competitors and substitute products The basic calendar functions are handled a variety of other ways as discussed. Access to an electronic organizer or calendar on a phone or computer is virtually ubiquitous.
The campus calendar’s primary function is to be something you want hung on the wall because it’s nice to look at.
There are a variety of other calendars featuring attractive people from a variety of other sources. The special value of the people being featured is that they are Eastern Washington University students, and in this regard there is no other competitive student photo calendar as presented in this case. Analysis of potential new entrants There are many substation options for the consumer, but no direct competitiors at this time or on the horizon. Analysis of suppliers
The source of capital to launch the calendar is coming from the eight students launching the project and will most likely include a corporate sponsor as well. Analysis of buyers The factors affecting the customer have been discussed in previous sections.
The patterns of other successful calendars offer clear guidance. Summary of industry opportunities and threats The nature of the startup enterprise is such that there is very little direct competitive threat and the extent of the opportunity remains to be seen. Implications for strategy development Choosing a clear gender focus for the expected consumer is paramount.
Reaching their customer with successful promotion and creating interest is vital. Their biggest threat is consumer apathy to their endeavor, the calendar has to generate buzz on campus with the right consumer segment. Organization Objectives and constraints There is clear time and capital constraints for CI.
They have $4000 of start-up capital and want to only donate 15 hours a week per person. They also have a clear financial goal of generating senior year tuition for 8 people. Financial condition There is little startup capital and the need for outside sponsorship seems obvious.
Organizational structure CI is a handful of fledgling entrepreneurs who will have to leverage their collective business agility and flexibility, as it is their primary corporate asset. Organizational culture CI’s “employees” are college students too, just like their target market. They need to use their own insights and instincts to serve their chosen market.
Summary of the firm’s strengths and weaknesses Strengths – The team will most likely have their finger on the pulse of their market. They are part of their target market segment, and they can use this to their advantage
Weaknesses – Their biggest weakness is their lack of experience. In an ideal situation they will use what they learn from this launch to modify their strategy the following year. Implications for strategy development CI needs to leverage what they know and excel in product design and promotional strategy. Marketing Strategy Objectives CI needs to choose a market segment and create a product to attract them.
It needs to be buzz-worthy and succeed in adoption among their targeted consumer group. Their niche product has to fit perfectly with their marketing mix and they need to retain focus.
Analysis of market share They will be producing the only calendar of attractive EWU students. Analysis of target market(s) Men: The men demonstrated a preference for a swimsuit calendar featuring women is clear. The general calendar market also confirms this with their profusion of swimsuit offerings.
Women: The women expressed a desire for images of men within the calendar. Their choice of pose was a fully clothed body shot. However the calendar industry is not currently offering a wide variety of clothed male calendars. Analysis of marketing mix variables
Product or Service – Choosing to do either an all male, all female, or male and female model calendar is the primary strategic consideration for the entire project. This defines the focus of the endeavor and all marketing options. Price – The data collected and comparative examples makes price strategy relatively clear.
The range of $6 to $8 is the critical area for the market. Given current prices for other student expenses in 2009, the top end of the price range wouldn’t appear to be a key deciding factor. This is a novelty product and most likely a fun, entertainment-based purchase.
Promotion – The entire creation of the calendar, the choosing of models and the final limited release is a key component of having people talk about the calendar, spread buzz and purchase them quickly over a short period of time. Since we have identified the short time frame of the calendars purchase relevance, a focused, eventful, and “limited time only” launch is key.
Successful strategic use of the social networks the students are already communicating on would prove extremely helpful and make the item a topic of discussion and interest leading up to its release. Campus email marketing would also be helpful.
The appeal to alumni and athletics fans and it’s relevance as an impending Christmas gift is a potentially beneficial move. Place – A booth in the student union and the stadium during school games is a very low cost option and provides just as much, if not more exposure than the school bookstore. It also allows for a critical maximization of profits when selling the calendar and can be leveraged in promotion as an exclusive buying opportunity. Summary of marketing strategy’s strengths and weaknesses Strengths – given the nature of the campus environment a successful promotional and attention generating campaign is likely.
Students will want to see a calendar of their peers in swimsuits. Students will want to know and discuss who is going to be in the calendar. This coupled with the relative low price and captive market will prove advantageous. Weaknesses – the real market penetration at EWU is untested, it is based primarily on other successes in other institutions. Implications for strategy development CI is going to have to develop a compelling set of images to make the calendar a good product and they are going to need some ingenuity with regards to managing the word of mouth they should be generating on and off campus.
Problems Found in Situation Analysis Statement of primary problem(s) CI is going to have to choose one market segment, most likely based on gender and cater to their needs and maximize their profit by serving just one section of the student and alumni market.
Statement of secondary problem(s) Developing good content and good promotion for a new business without a track record presents challenges for all members of CI. Strategic Alternatives for Solving Problems Description of strategic alternative 1 Produce a swimsuit calendar of attractive women, focus marketing efforts on male students and alumni.
Make the selection process for models and the final release of the calendar a part of the time sensitive promotional campaign. Benefits of alternative 1 – in looking at campus calendars from numerous other institutions and reviewing the most popular collegiate calendars this is the most popular and successful strategy. This type of product also has the best reach with alumni, prospective students and other male market segments. Costs of alternative 1 – they may still not meet financial goals set out for the project.
They will need to work very hard on getting buzz for their calendar’s process and launch.
There will undoubtedly be criticism of the objectification of women within the campus. Description of strategic alternative 2 Produce an all male and an all female calendar- 2 different products simultaneously offered. Benefits of alternative 2 – this would undoubtedly reach the most people, It satisfies the main groups identified in data collection. It would appeal to more sponsors and presents a balanced image for CI.
Costs of alternative 2 – This strategy is the costliest and dilutes the focus of the enterprise. It is potentially operationally unachievable.
Description of strategic alternative 3 Produce a calendar of men and women together, partially clothed, in some cute, funny, and potentially provocative scenario Benefits of alternative 3 – this options attempts to achieve the broadest appeal and does so in a single product. It Costs of alternative 3 – given the lack of other successful examples of this strategy it could be inferred that the presence of the same sex in the photography could actually devalue it for both genders. Selection of Strategic Alternatives and Implementation Statement of selected strategy Strategic Alternative 1.