It is your first day at work and you are already confused. Export Unlimited (EU), one of the world’s largest shipping companies, has just hired you. EU ships goods all around the world by ocean, air, and train. It has offices in many cities in the United States and in other countries. You have been hired to work in EU’s Seattle office as an “Account Executive” for refrigerated goods. That is, you are hired to manage perishable goods (like apples or cherries) that need to be shipped from Seattle in refrigerated containers. It has been a quiet first day until your boss gives you the first big assignment. “Apples are one of Washington State’s biggest crops,” your boss says, “and I want EU to ship more apples to other countries. I want you to focus on Taiwan. One week from today, I want you to give me a marketing plan about what you are going to do to help EU carry more apples to Taiwan. If you have a good plan, you will receive a $10,000 bonus.” You think to yourself, “Now what?” You don’t have the first idea how EU could carry more apples to Taiwan.
What should you do? You decide to do some research.
- You speak to other people in the office to learn what they know about shipping apples.
- You e-mail Bruce Lee, EU’s sales representative in New Taipei, Taiwan, and ask him about EU’s business in Taiwan.
- You use the Internet and the library to learn more about exports from Washington State.
- You read everything you can find at the office about EU’s history and its business.
It takes a few days, but you finally are able to answer your three questions:
- What does EU do to get apples from Seattle to Taiwan? You learned that EU sends three ships a week from Seattle to New Taipei, Taiwan: one on Monday, one on Tuesday, and one on Friday. Because some of these ships go to other places first, one ship each week takes 21 days to get to Taiwan, one takes 17, and one takes 15.
You learned that apples kept in a refrigerated container can stay fresh for a 22-day trip. However, most customers of perishable goods want the 15-day trip. You also learned that EU’s refrigerated containers guarantee EU customers their apples will stay at exactly the right temperature, neither frozen nor too hot. Finally, you learned that EU can promise customers exactly when their goods will leave Seattle and when they will arrive in New Taipei.
- What is Washington State’s apple business like? You learned that farmers in Washington State grow twelve different kinds of apples. Washington apples are sold around the country and around the world. You also learned that Washington State sells 15% of all fruit exported from the United States to other countries.
- Do people in Taiwan want to buy apples? You learned that people in Taiwan do indeed buy Washington apples. Their favorite is the Fuji, a spicy-sweet apple. Unlike Americans, who often buy apples in big bags, you learned that people in Taiwan tend to buy apples one at a time, paying special attention to how ripe, shiny, and well-shaped they are.
You also learned that people in Taiwan buy more apples during holidays or festivals, using these apples for gifts or as offerings at shrines or temples. Washington apples can be sold year-round because those that aren’t sold at harvest-time are kept in controlled atmosphere warehouses to “put the apples to sleep” until they are needed. Taiwan’s biggest apple-buying holiday is the Chinese New Year, which usually falls around the end of January.
You have learned a lot of information in just a few days, but you still don’t know enough to write a marketing plan. What should you do next?
“Of course!” you think, “I need to figure out who my customers are. I have to write this plan for my boss, but it is my customers who will decide whether or not to ship more apples.” You decide to do some more research. You determine that you have three kinds of customers:
- First, there are the apple farmers in Eastern Washington. You have to convince them to trust their apples to EU.
- Second, there are the apple traders who buy and sell the apples.
- Third, you will work with the grocery store owners in Taiwan who will sell the apples once they arrive in Taiwan. You have to convince them that apples shipped by EU will arrive in good condition.
You would have to get to know each of these types of customers and convince them that EU could do the best job.
- You have to convince the apple farmers that EU could deliver their apples safely and quickly to Taiwan. You have to convince them that EU would do a better job than any other shipper.
- You have to convince the apple traders that EU would not only deliver the apples safely, but also that EU has good connections in Taiwan. You want them to see that working with EU would make a trader’s job easier.
- Finally, you have to convince the grocery store owners in Taiwan that EU would ship them only the finest Fuji apples and that those apples would arrive in good condition just at the time they were needed.
Now you just have to turn all of this into a presentation for your boss and hopefully receive a $10,000 bonus.
Getting the basic information or doing research is the first step in this or any other problem when you do not know enough to solve the problem by yourself.
Task #1: Prepare detailed answers to the questions below. You may use additional sources of information as necessary to obtain export marketing information.
Information about EU
- What do you know about EU?
- What kind of services does EU offer to Taiwan?
- Is EU good at shipping apples?
- How often does EU send ships between Seattle and Taiwan?
- How long does it take a ship to get to Taiwan?
- Is it even possible to ship apples that far before they spoil?
Information about Washington Apples
- When are apples harvested, and what happens to them after harvesting?
- How are the apples shipped?
- What kinds of apples do Washington State farmers grow?
- What is the volume of apples that are exported?
- What are the primary export markets for apples and how many apples are exported to each market?
Taiwan Expectations of Apples
- What is the current consumption rate for apples in Taiwan? What kinds of apples do they prefer and why?
- What are the Taiwanese buying habits, with respect to apples? How are they different than US consumers?
- What kind of apples do people there prefer?
- Are there certain times of the year that they are most likely to buy apples?
Information Tools to Solve Problems
How can you get the information you need? Identify at least six sources of information.
Explaining the Marketing Plan
- What do these customers want to know about EU?
- How can you convince them that EU could do the best job or better job than any other shipper?
Task #2: Write a Marketing Plan
Write a 1-page memo to the boss outlining the steps you will take to get Washington apple farmers and Taiwan grocery store owners to use EU (Would you meet with them, send them information about EU, take out ads, and try to match up buyers and sellers, etc.?).
Task #3: Write a personal reflection on the topic addressing the main objectives of your export marketing position. Consider the key factors that influenced your plan for the company’s market expansion. Also, reflect on the role of the Christian employee and discuss key biblical principles that support your position.
For your marketing plan to be a good one (and for you to get your $10,000 bonus) you really need to gear it to the needs of your customers: the apple farmers in Washington State and the grocery store owners in Taiwan.