Activity: the job application
For lecturers – This fictional activity can be employed as an assessment task. It enables lecturers to assess each student’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge of the content and how content is often context specific. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for students to engage in a creative communications activity.
For students – This activity provides an opportunity to study and demonstrate a broad knowledge of marketing and to add to your student portfolio [handy when applying for a marketing positions]. In this fictional activity you take on the role of a recently graduated marketing student who has applied for a position at a global automobile manufacturer and has advanced to the final 5 candidates. You must provide a broad demonstration of your knowledge up to the end of section 2 of the e-book. Please also consider how consumers form schemas and therefore brands and how this knowledge can be managed to position and reposition a brand as consumer needs, wants, values, preferences, and situational factors change.
 You have graduated from university and have applied for a position at a global automobile manufacturer. The job application stated that they are seeking a –
“Business Development Officer with university qualifications in marketing … the successful applicant will need to provide marketing advice to the organisation’s sales representative – who in turn liaise with automobile dealers [B2B]. The Sales representatives and the dealers are located in different countries and with different cultures, therefore, a sound conceptual understanding of marketing, knowledge of traditional and more recent communication tools, and well developed written presentation skills are required”.
 Two weeks later you receive an email with some good news. The email states that –
“Your application and your CV were well received … there were a number of applicants and we are pleased to advise you that you have progressed to the final 5 candidates. Furthermore, all 5 candidates are recent university graduates with outstanding academic qualifications, however, without a work history all 5 candidates are required to complete the following written tasks”.
A deadline for the submission of your work is given.
The task you must complete
“Dear candidate – please study the following fictional scenario – as you can see from the following scenario, Gino, Brett, and Alex are Australian Rules Football and car enthusiasts, and have developed schemas and brand attitudes. Although brand attitudes are relatively enduring they also evolve with time, changing situational factors, and new information. Your role will assist us to reposition our product in the future as and when needed. As it would be impossible for candidates to predict [anticipate] the future directions of the company we ask that you only demonstrate your knowledge and skills of marketing, brands and branding and how this knowledge could be applied [see mother and father’s comments] – note that this role is an important tactical role not a strategic role so you would not be involved in the strategic business-marketing planning process. Therefore, in your submission you must demonstrate your Knowledge but you must avoid giving advice.“
“Your submission should be to a professional standard, it should be:
- a synthesis of your knowledge relative to the context [ that means not simply a paraphrased list of content from a textbook]
- to a maximum of 3,000 words and 12 pages. The word and page limit will permit candidates to professionally format their work with ‘white space’, diagrams and images
- include a cover page, an executive summary, the main body of the work, images, diagrams, a conclusions section and references.
Writing in first person is acceptable.
APOLOGIES: This activity is a bit ‘male and Aussie’ but that is intended to allow cultural and target market inferences to be made. If you are reading this activity outside Australia it is recommended that you undertake a quick search of Australian Rules Football.
Keep in mind
In this assessment task you must provide an holistic demonstration of your knowledge up to the end of section 2 of the e-book. Including how consumers form schemas and therefore brands and how this knowledge can be managed to position and reposition a brand as consumer needs, wants, values, preferences, and situational factors change.
Keep in mind that your application should be a synthesis of your knowledge relative to the context and not simply a chronological list of content from the e-book.
The following information may help you complete the tasks
Please note: In-text referencing is require [however no need to in-text the e-book]; appropriate end-text referencing of the e-book is required; all other sources should be in-text and end-text referenced to appropriate academic standards.
You are both excited and anxious and talk this over with your parents.
Your mother [an account manager for a large software company] suggests that this is a good way for the organisation to identify who is really keen and perhaps only 3 of the 5 applicants will put in a lot of effort.
Your mother considers what she would look for if she was in such a position and says – “I believe form a content perspective they want you to demonstrate that you can conceptualise marketing [i.e., the marketing concept] – that means that you must explain how a marketing philosophy is applied – how you achieve the long and short-term objectives of marketing practitioners, also you must employ, explain, and apply the language and concepts of marketing, demonstrate your knowledge of the buyer decision process, the total product, and the circle of satisfaction all relative to the customer characteristics, organisational characteristics, market characteristics, and the product characteristics. And you must do this succinctly so they know that you have mastered your discipline.”
Your father [a sales manager for a large whitegoods manufacturer] states that – “I agree with what you mother has said about the content but I also believe that presentation is a key element. From a presentation perspective, they want you to demonstrate that you can produce a professional document – not just the key content well but also formatted like an internal magazine – with images [hint go to unsplash.com]. You have an opportunity to shine, to show your talents and demonstrate how your marketing degree can create value for this organisation and their the channel partners and consumers”.
Both parents suggest that some research would be a good idea, to gain an understanding of the types of the 4X4 dual cab vehicles and the buyer decision process. After undertaking this research [online search] you discovered that the organisation has an extensive product range with different products designed for different target markets, they also operate in a competitive marketplace – HOWEVER the scenario [below] asks you to focus on one product category 4X4 dual cab utility vehicles.
The buyer decision process – selecting a car
This scenario [it also appears in another activity: the buyer decision process] introduces the concept of schemas and how they are formed and how they influence consumer attitudes towards a brand and the selection of a product. After the scenario an overview of schemas is provided.
Scenario: Gino, Brett, and Alex have been good friends [mates] since school. A couple of times a year gather to watch an Australian Football League [AFL] game and have a bar-b-que and a few social drinks. Gino and Alex are passionate West Coast Eagles supporters; however, Brett is a Richmond ‘Tigers’ supporter – just like his Dad and Grandad. It may seem strange but they all wear their club colours to the ‘gathering.
Gino is a plumber and Brett is an electrician – Alex, like many Australians, refers to them as ‘tradies’. Alex, on the other hand, works in an insurance broker’s office, and Gino and Bret refer to him as a ‘pen pusher’. As is the nature of Australian humour there is a fair bit of good natured ‘banter’ between the three mates.
Gino and Brett have 4X4 dual cab utilities; this allows them to meet both their private and work needs. The 4X4 dual cab utility [utes] category has increased in recent years and is now a dominant category. It is popular with tradespeople, however, it is also popular with caravaners, campers and off-road explorers.
During the half-time break the conversation turned to what vehicles they would purchase next. Alex has little choice as he has a work vehicle at the moment it is a Toyota Camry Hybrid – his boss makes the decision so he has no real input. The Toyota Camry is a lovely car to drive and as the car is leased [including all service costs] his boss makes a value decision on the best most reliable car at the lowest overall total cost. To be part of the conversation Alex states that – If he had the money and the choice it would be a vintage Ford Mustang. Recently, Alex and his Dad attended the National Mustang Gathering at Gloucester Park in Perth – around $10.5 million dollars worth of cars were on display. The Mustangs ranged from the 1960s to 2021. Alex and his Dad have floated the idea about having a ‘Sunday car’. That way they could ‘hang out’ and have some father and son time – a 1964 Ford Mustang is top on their list – red.
Gino is a little conflicted – he has been loyal to Holden – a GM brand, however, as Holden are no longer manufacturing and retailing of the brand has finished he is looking for a new brand [see the e-book on self]. Alex said that it is the same for the Toyota Camry, they used to be made in Australia but that is no longer the case. Gino states that, in his opinion Holden’s problem was that the brand promise was around being Australian and he bought into doing the right thing. Whereas Toyota Camry brand promise was on reliability so country of origin was not the issue. They all agree and discuss this a little further, until Gino states that he likes the look of the Mitsubishi 4X4 dual cab ute, he has a mate who has accessorised his and it looks good enough to go out in the evenings, go bush or beach on the weekends. Alex asks ‘are you sure? I perceive the Mitsubishi ute as a poor man’s Toyota Hi Lux.’ Gino recognising that Alex has developed loyalty to the Toyota brand says ‘you might be right but the Toyota Hi Lux may be out of my price range.’
Brett agrees that today’s Mitsubishi is a far cry from a few years ago, however, he fancies updating his 2014 Volkswagon Amarok 4X4 dual cab diesel with a new model. Gino asks if he feels the ‘Volkswagon scandal’ has impacted on his attitude to Volkswagon. Brett states that at first, he was annoyed because he trusted Volkswagen and he felt let down, but, the car is good, it has been extremely reliable and has reasonable running costs – plus, he read somewhere that other car manufacturers were also behaving badly, and some had also received fines. Alex asks why are they procrastinating and Brett states that the new model is very similar to his present model and he wants the new car to be a completely different experience [not just a change of colour and a few new tech apps]. Then Brett adds, that as a subcontract electrician he is concerned that a few large building companies had recently gone into liquidation and he is worried that he may be effected.
Gino states that the third quarter of footy is about to start; they take up their usual positions in the TV room – an advertisement for Toyota Hi-Lux 4X4 comes on the screen and Gino states maybe I will take a Hi-Lux for a test drive. Alex states if you can afford a Hi Lux maybe the Ford Ranger might be worth a test drive – Brett adds that there is a new Nissan Nivaro and that should also be considered.
They all have their mobile phones in their hands – who said men can’t multi-task!
You may have noticed that in this activity that consumer schemas are employed individually and collectively. Schemas are often overlooked but nevertheless important for consumers and marketing practitioners. Let’s have a brief overview of schemas – the objective is to provide an insight as to how consumers form schemas and how a knowledge of consumer schemas can assist marketing practitioners to design and develop products/brands that are distinct, discernible, and desirable.
Previously, we have discussed socialising, perception, memory, associative networks, learning, and the self-concept – consumers employ these skills when constructing a schema or schemas [schemas are also referred to as schemata in the academic literature].
The following definition synthesises the academic literature, a schema is: A schema is the result of a cognitive process where people attend, interpret, organise, catagorise information, consider the associations and relationships and store this information in an associative network for efficient retrieval, future conversations, and decision-making.
An understanding of schemas helps to explain how consumers interpret and organise marketing communication and consumption experiences. Just as each organisation will develop a unique marketing philosophy to guide market behaviour so do consumers. Consumers interpret information or assign meaning in different ways [watch the crowd’s reaction to a free kick at a football match]. Often people see what they want to see and this helps to explain why people react differently when exposed to the same stimuli. Consumers construct schemas based on their personal situational factors [COMP] and values.
According to Fiske and Taylor (1991) schemas are perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge about a topic [e.g., a product, product category, brand, organisation, industry] that are internally generated and stored. The authors present the view that schemas are personal, cumulative, and subjective and once formed, schemas are relatively robust. Schemas evolve with a consumer’s cumulative consumption experiences and social interactions (Halkias, 2015).
According to Halkias (2015) consumers unconsciously construct a number of schemas, one of the most important schemas for marketing practitioners is a brand schema, and this helps to explain how brands are conceptualised, how brand preferences are formed, and why consumers develop brand loyalty. A brand schema often takes the form of a mental taxonomy to organise associations and provide a hierarchy of categorisation and consumer preference by attributes. There are other consumer schemas that are of interest to marketing practitioners, for example:
- a category schema will mentally organise products within a product category
- a product schemas will mentally organise product preferences or a family of sub-brands
- ad schemas will mentally organise key advertisements in product categories (Stoltman, 1991).
Schemas have a function – schemas provide meaning and guidance and consumers employ schemas like a personal buying philosophy (Gebhardt, Farrelly, & Conduit, 2019).
Marketing practitioners recognise that brand schemas naturally form and consider this process when designing and developing marketing strategies and tactics. Although all consumers employ this process they vary according to their involvement with the product and their skills (Puligadda, Ross, & Grewal, 2012).
Given the influence of schemas it is important for marketing practitioners to be consistent with all communication [referred to as cognitive consistency] – what may seem as a fresh and innovative [e.g., new packaging] may be ignored or be misinterpreted by a consumer who is familiar with and loyal to the product.
Brands & branding
In the interest of full disclosure, the author does not endorse the use of the metaphor brand or branding in marketing – as it is historically associated with cruelty to and ownership of people and animals and the inference that power is in the hands of the owner. Furthermore, brands and branding are inchoate, overused, and often incorrectly used terms. Reluctantly, as these are presently the accepted terms, they are employed to avoid confusion with existing textbooks.
Brands are important for consumers and for organisations. This short summary provides a brief description of brands and how branding strategies and tactics are a central part of the business-marketing planning process – please read further.
A synthesis of the academic literature indicates that – a brand is a longitudinal representation of the unique product value proposition of an organisation’s product[s]. Furthermore, a strategic objective of marketing practitioners is to design, develop, and deliver products that have a distinct, distinguishable, and discernible value proposition to customers – and – with time and consistent performance the products will develop a market reputation [keep in mind that a reputation may be one of dissatisfaction <> ambivalence <> satisfaction and may be a liability or an asset].
A brand is a collection of ideas [a schema] that influence a buyer’s decision-making process – therefore, brands become a heuristic or mental shortcut. It is generally regarded that brand recall, brand recognition and purchase intentions will be higher when a consumer has a favourable attitude. Whilst organisation carefully construct the ‘ideal brand’ – customers [ collective], based on their evaluations [cumulative], construct the ‘actual brand’ . Marketing scholars refer to the ideal brand as brand image and the actual brand as brand identity; the goal for marketing practitioners is to manage customer satisfaction to ensure that brand identity is congruent with brand image [the communication gap in the 5 gap model].
In sum: Brands are the collective and cumulative representations of a product’s value. Brands with a favourable reputation have higher recall and recognition and this leads to sales baseline growth [sales that are achieved without promotional incentives and discounting to drive sales].
Situational Factors [COMP factors]
Managing situational factors is critical for marketing practitioners to achieve the 9 objectives of marketing practitioners. It is also important to consider that customers and organisations are, to a large degree, impacted by the same situational factors. Clearly, organisations have to understand the characteristics of their selected customers, on the other hand, customer decision-making is influenced by the organisational characteristics [including brand reputation], however, the market conditions will influence customer and organisational decision-making, and the buying and selling strategies and tactics will vary according to the product characteristics [see product considerations].
Customer: Consumers approach or avoid different brands based on their awareness and attitude to a brand – we could call this brand attractiveness, brand reputation. Consumers form brand perceptions and expectations based on external communication with the organisation and others; however, based on personal experience with a branded product a consumer will construct a brand identity. It is worthwhile to note, that characteristics that may be attractive to a consumer in one market segment may not be attractive to consumers in other market segments. Consumers employ brands to estimate, assess, or evaluate different products in a market – this is often referred to as product differentiation. Therefore, an attractive brand provides an heuristic for quality and value and reduces risks.
Organisation: From an organisation’s perspective, a brand is the collective perceptions of the market and this may provide insight to future purchase intentions of consumers and therefore, the future financial benefit to an organisation; this value to organisations is often referred to as brand equity and often one of an organisation’s most valuable assets. The attractiveness of the brand will influence the effectiveness and efficiency of an organisation’s marketing activities; therefore, brands may reduce the costs of selling as a percentage of sales. Brands create a value for customers and at a collective level brands create a value for organisations. Like other assets a brand may be bought or sold and the brand equity will be determined by the forecasted return on investment. Not all brands are attractive to competitors as brands may be a liability or an asset. Additionally, brands allow marketing practitioners to align a product to a market segment and to position and price a product to compete in a market.
Market: Although consumers purchase products for the benefits they receive, they often organise their considered set of products on the basis of the brands they recall or discover during the search process. Likewise, organisations map their brands according to other brands in the marketplace. Therefore, brands help to organise the market and help to determine pricing strategies and tactics.
Product: Although there are some unbranded products, most products are branded products [even private-label products are brands]. Brands are the ideas – the product knowledge, that help position a product in the consumers’ mind. For customers, brands add value to a product because they are a heuristic, a mental shortcut; brands help customers estimate quality, value, and satisfaction. With repeat purchasing customers develop cumulative satisfaction this increases trust and reduces consumer perceptions of risk – this is referred to as brand loyalty. For organisations, brand loyalty will propagate channel support and assists retailers to attract consumers and often achieve a price premium within a product category. Brand loyalty reduces the dependence on discounting and sales promotions.
When undertaking a marketing audit, as part of the business planning process, marketing practitioners consider the customer, the organisation, the market, and the product; therefore, marketing practitioners should consider branding as an integral part of the business-marketing planning process and as an everyday activity outlined in the business plan, the marketing plan and specified in the various marketing action plans.
Source: The marketing concept [e-book] available free to download from this website.
It is important to distinguish between Branding and Brands. Branding activities are the activities an organisation undertakes to brand their product in the mind of the selected market segment. Organisations must consider & manage the prevailing situational factors [COMP]. Whist some factors may be controllable, other factors are beyond the organisation’s influence & require the organisation to adapt. Brands are what happens as consumers naturally form schemas.
Organisations communicate an ‘ideal brand’ message, however, consumers create an ‘actual brand’ based on their reality. This is referred to as brand image & brand identity.