PRINCIPLES OF MARKETING – BRAND ANALYSIS PROJECT
* Important due dates are shown on class schedule
You will analyze a brand’s market situation, competitive situation, and current marketing strategy. Then,
based on your findings, you will make recommendations for improving the brand’s competitive position in
The product category for your class is salty snacks. Note that there are several subcategories within this broad
category (e.g., potato chips, pretzels, peanuts, cashews, etc.) and many brands within a subcategory (e.g., potato
chips—Lays, Ruffles, etc.)
In this individually-written report, you will demonstrate your writing, research abilities, and knowledge of
concepts presented in this course. The assignment also gives you the chance to practice using charts and
exhibits.As a bonus, the completed report can serve as your writing sample for internships and jobs.
Situation & Assignment
You’ve landed your first job as an assistant to a brand manager. Your boss, Miranda Priestly, wants to make
sure your company’s brand is remaining competitive. Therefore, she assigns you this project:
Review all publically available information related to your brandand the product category
Prepare a detailed analysis of the product category and your brand, and
Make three recommendations to improve your brand’s competitive position based on the findings of
your research. Note that your analysis and recommendations are limited to the domestic US market.
Important First Steps
Each student should pick one brandwithin a subcategory for salty snacks. Once you make your choice, come
to my office (T25 KSB) and neatlyenter your selection on the sign-up sheet posted on my door. Make sure
you sign up on the sheet marked with your section number (MKTG 300.003). You must list the brand name
as well as the subcategory (e.g., Cheerios cereal). The priority for brand selection is on a first-come-firstreserved basis.No two students may select the same brand/subcategory combination.Please take a picture of
the sign-up sheet after you make your entry as proof that you were the first student to make that particular
Deliverable #1: Memo with Annotated Bibliography(Due date – see class schedule)
Your boss asks you to first prepare a business memo with an attachment. The memo should be no more
than one page. The attachment should be an annotated bibliography of references (minimum five) for your
final report. For each reference, briefly (20-40 words) explain how and why that reference is likely to be
useful for your final report.
What is the purpose of this memo? Your boss has asked you for a memo describing your progress. In
essence, she wants to know what work you’ve completed, what you plan to do and, generally, how you plan
to develop your analysis. This is your work plan, not your final recommendations. Part of the memo might
include a timeline for where you are and what will be done and when.
All students are encouraged to have their memo and annotated bibliography reviewed by either the Center for
Business Communication (CBC) or by our class TA. You should note who reviewed your memo in the
A hard copy and an electronic copy (via email) of the memo + bibliographyis due no later than 5 pm on the
date indicated in the syllabus (or earlier). Penalty for late submission is 10% (1 point) per day.
Deliverable #2: Final Report (Due date- see class schedule)
Part 1: Summary and Recommendations—250 words
Briefly summarize your report and list your three key recommendations. Note that although this section
comes first in the final project, you will write it last.
Part 2: Market Analysis of Product Category—1000 words
What is the market situation for the category of your brand? Provide a short review of the market situation
facing the brands in your competitive “space” (your brand and its direct competitors).
This section may address such topics as the key consumer trends, a crucial political issue, a critical
technological change, a shift in the nature of the competitive landscape, and/or a key environmental force
affecting the brand and competition. Choose issues that generally affect the performance of all players (i.e.,
some brands are affected more and some less, but the issues affect the group or category as a whole).
Notes: (1) You will want to refer primarily to the concepts discussed in Ch. 3 on Marketing Environment and Ch. 5 on
Consumer Behavior.(2) In this section you are conducting an “environmental scan” (see Ch. 3) of the product sub-category
market, which includes your brand and other direct competitive brands.
Part 3: Brand Analysis—1000 words
Analyze the marketing strategy of your brand (relative to key competitors) with an eye towards its specific
strengths and/or weaknesses.
Topics in this part may include (but are not limited to):
a. Segmentation and Targeting: What is the target market or markets for your brand? Discuss the segmentation
approaches used by your brand (such as demographic, psychographic, etc.--see Ch 9.)
b. Positioning: Discuss the strategies used to position your brand. (See Ch. 9)
c. Product, Price, Place, Promotion: Discuss the key product issues (Ch. 10-12). Which specific elements and
tactics of the communications mix, such as advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and direct
marketing are important for your brand? (See Ch. 18-20.) Discuss key distribution issues. What types of
distribution channels are used and why? Evaluate point of sale merchandising and promotions. (See Ch. 1517.) What types of pricing strategies are used? (See Ch. 13-14.)
At the end of this section, provide a SWOT analysis for your brand. Your SWOT analysis should be logically
based on ideas presented in parts 2 and 3.
Part 4: Brand Recommendations for Your Brand —750 words
In this section you expand the recommendations you first gave to the reader in part 1. Based on the issues
you’ve identified in parts 2 and 3, present three well-founded ideas for improving the distinctive competitive
position for your brand. (Hint: Do not just form recommendations that will improve sales in general.
Develop recommendations that will help your focal brand to set itself apart from the competition.) Discuss
the pros and cons of each idea. Justify actions with supporting analyses & logic.
Note: All students are required to have their paper reviewed by either the Center for Business Communication (CBC) or by our
class TA. You must note who reviewed your report in the “summary and recommendations” section of your paper.
A hard copy and an electronic copy (via email) of the report is due no later than 5 pm on the date indicated in
the syllabus (or earlier). Penalty for late submission is 10% (7 points) per day.
Additional Key Instructions
Use subheadingsto organize your report and provide structure for the reader.
Bold specific marketing terms that we have covered in class lectures and are taken from your text.
The report must contain a minimum of five figures (charts, exhibits, graphs, tables, or useful
illustrations). These are not included in the word count. They should be embedded within your
surrounding text as this will make it easier to read for your boss. Make sure that you label each
figure and also refer to the figure within the text. Avoid confusing, uninformative, ill-conceived,
simplistic and sloppy figures! I strongly encourage you to make some of your own figures and not
simply copy and paste from your references. The Simmons data is a natural source for at least one
figure. If you adopt or construct a figure using information from a reference, you must cite the
reference in the label for the figure.
The report must contain a minimum of ten references/citations.
The report should be single-spaced with double spaces between paragraphs/sections, default
margins, 12-point font.
Make sure your writing is concise and to-the-point and your claims are based on objective evidence.
The tone of the report should be formal and professional, so choose your wording appropriately;
points will be deducted for informal writing (e.g., avoid slang, short-hand, etc.)
Remember that your writing style and presentation quality will be graded. Every instance of
improper grammar, spelling, unclear writing, sloppiness or error in formatting will result in a
deduction in grade.
Staple your report together. No plastic report covers, bindings or paper clips.
Please make sure that you cite sources within the text. No footnotes or endnotes.
Include a bibliography at the end of your report with an alphabetical listing of all your citations.
Each citation (minimum ten) should include the author(s) name(s), the title of the publication, the
date of the publication, the source name, and a website (where appropriate). Use the APA citation
style (A copy is available on blackboard). If you include a hyperlink to your articles, make sure this
can be accessed by all readers of the document.
All citations must come from relevant, reputable, and credible sources.
Remember that your overall goal is to demonstrate your writing skills and your understanding of
the concepts and principles discussed in this course.
MKTG 300 is designated a “W” course. What does this mean?
An important feature of the Kogod BSBA is Professional Skill Set Development; Professional writing is one of
these skills. (Others include presentation & oral communications and case analysis). All students in MKTG-300 are
required to prepare multiple individual writing assignments that constitute a significant portion to the course grade.
Kogod and AU have dedicated many resources to help you develop these professional skills.
How do I select a brand?
What is an “acceptable” brand?
Within the broad category designated for your class, there may be many sub categories. Pick a sub category that
is of interest and consider how much public information is available about that sub category and various brands within
that sub group of competitor brands.
The review of public information might include “academic” and “practitioner” sources. What’s the difference between ‘academic’ and
This is an important point and one that students don’t always appreciate. In any applied discipline such as
medicine or marketing, our knowledge base depends upon the thinking and learning of those who practice their
profession, as well as those who conduct scientific studies in that discipline. Academic journals contain studies and
views that have been evaluated by scholars and experts (“peer-reviewed”) and are considered to be of the highest quality.
Practitioner publications may contain current thinking, observations, ideas and opinions, but these have not been peerreviewed by scholars. Students should be knowledgeable in both literatures. A reference librarian can help you
investigate appropriate sources.
Where do I find sources for a literature review? “In the process of preparing the paper I have found that most of the relevant
information I am getting is from email interviews with service providers and from company sponsored white papers and even podcasts. How do
you feel about these sources in light of the fact that there is so little published on ( xxx ) or in the main stream publication.”?
As a first step, students should review the current status of the information available in academic and practitioner
sources. The business librarian is a great resource and (s)he will help you establish what materials and journal articles are
available. IMPORTANT- This is not simply a task of finding any ten recent articles or press releases. You need to craft
a thorough review of the brand’s marketing and communication strategy and this review should be based upon the most
trustworthy sources you can gather.
Should I use a certain organization and structure for the report?
“Yes” and “No.” First principle is to organize your report in the structure you think is most appropriate.
Although you have some flexibility here, keep in mind the bottomline -- your business memos and reports should
represent the highest in professional quality, both in content and style. This is not an exercise in free or “artistic”
expression. Guidelines will be presented by representatives ofKogod’s Center for Business Communications
(CBC).They are agreat resource.
Should I conduct primary research?
No – this is not a marketing research course. Students may supplement their “public” literature with information
from an interview with a retailer or executive.
Do I need to pay attention to charts and tables? … placement of exhibits?
Yes. Make your charts, exhibits, figures and tables (CEFTs) clear and informative. Good CEFTs are the marks of a
good report. (IMPORTANT - In past semesters, confused, uninformative, ill-conceived, simplistic and sloppy CEFTs
have been the weakest part of most student reports.) Exhibits may be placed at the end of the text. However, most
readers prefer to have exhibits and corresponding text on the same page.
Other points to remember …
a. Make sure that the presentation and look of your memo and report are of the highest quality and free of
mistakes. Written expression must be clear and to-the-point.
b. It is the responsibility of each student to keep an electronic backup of their memo and report for their own
records. The backup may be requested by the instructor. The submitted (i.e., the “original”) will be retained by the
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