Thursday, May 7, 2009

Profitability Analysis Framework, pt 4 - Sales: Volume, Brand Equity and Positioning

Profitability Analysis Framework Series
[ 1. Overview, 2. Fixed Costs, 3. Variable Costs, 4. Sales, 5. Price ]

A rather important theme that has reoccurred in the last few posts about fixed and variable costs is the idea of quantity sold (sales volume).

At any given price, quantity sold is directly proportional to the total revenue stream for any given product or service.
What are potential explanations for movement in your sales volume? If you find yourself losing market share it could be either because of substitution to another product (entry by a new competitor) or general decline of the industry (less use of buggy whips). Cross elasticity of substitutes can result in lost sales if you are being undercut by a competitor. Another explanation is it could be a change in the social trend (less hamburger consumption and more salads).

Positioning based on the questions above are of the utmost importance and are often based on the following dimensions:
  • Price as explained above
  • Quality - With different dimensions as defined by the specific product (style for clothing, processing power for computers, horse power for cars etc)
  • Availability accessibility (consumption of cola generally goes up the more convenient it is, hence more vending machines)
  • Consumption of complementary and paired products (consuming more cola with an increase in consumption of pizza slices)
In growth opportunities, an important consideration is the geographic distribution channels and opportunistic sales. Are your customers able to get your product or service when they need it? Or are they going to your competitors? Do you have adequate point of sales to service your customers needs? What are the hottest geographic areas to locate more sales capacity?

[Case Study] Malcolm Gladwell talks about Airwalk as being a company which became famous for being unconventional and targeted directly towards skateboarding subculture of Southern California. Their advertising reflected a lifestyle which was uniquely different and had a special perceived brand equity. This allowed Airwalk to sell their shoes in boutique stores at prices that were much higher than their "competitors".

However, upon growth and expansion, when Airwalk started putting their shoes in more conventional locations (department stores, etc), their brand quickly became diluted as being too "common" and they lost their luster of being unconventional. What had originally been ironic and trendy and had become rather blasé.

Suddenly, by diluting their brand equity customers became disinterested, and their sales numbers suffered.

Profitability Analysis Framework Series
[ 1. Overview, 2. Fixed Costs, 3. Variable Costs, 4. Sales, 5. Price ]

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