Page 2: Product
The product was the key starting point for Parcelforce Worldwide. As a service organisation, it looked at the service range it offered the market. A range may be broadened or a product strengthened for tactical reasons, such as matching a competitor”s offer. Alternatively, a product may be re-positioned to make it more acceptable for a new group of customers.
An example of this is Parcelforce Worldwide”s International Datapost service. This covered both the “urgent” (i.e. very fast) and “deferred” (i.e. medium-speed) categories of its delivery range. Parcelforce Worldwide needed to differentiate the product to meet the needs of the different users.
It therefore created two separate products - Global Express for the urgent category and Global Priority for the deferred or medium speed market. This enabled customers to clearly pick out which product suited their need.
As a market-orientated organisation, Parcelforce Worldwide must understand what its customers want to meet their needs. Market research helped Parcelforce Worldwide decide what it needed to change to best meet those needs. Market research falls in two types:
1. Primary research this involves gathering information from original sources. Research may be either:
- qualitative methods that try to find out how people feel. Samples of customers are often asked to discuss products and services while researchers take notes about what they have to say
- quantitative methods that produce figures or statistics. Questionnaires, telephone and internet surveys are often used.
2. Secondary research this involves compiling information from existing or published sources. Internal sources include Parcelforce Worldwide”s own customer databases; external sources include published materials like newspapers, trade publications, industry reports and the internet.
Outcomes of research
Parcelforce Worldwide focused on primary research through web interviews to see what
customers thought about its services. It needed to identify the right focus for its approach in an increasingly competitive market. One key question was to find out what was the main factor affecting the decision making of customers using the Urgent service. (This is an example of quota sampling as it selected customers from the Urgent product subset). The research showed that for most of these customers, speed not price was the primary factor.
The other key issues the research identified were:
- Parcelforce Worldwide”s product portfolio was not aligned to customer needs.
- In the urgent market, customers were mainly interested in speed of delivery; in the “deferred” market, customers wanted a balance of speed and price; and lastly, there was also a market where price was the main purchasing consideration.
- Across all services, customers had a number of factors they required as a minimum. These included reliability, high levels of customer service, management reporting and good tracking.
To meet these needs, Parcelforce Worldwide has created a new set of international services which have these factors as attributes and which are then differentiated by price and speed in line with customers” needs. It has also created product names (or brands) that help to reinforce and clarify for customers what each service offers.