Diversification (marketing strategy)
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Diversification is a corporate strategy to enter into a new market or industry which the business is not currently in, whilst also creating a new product for that new market. This is most risky section of the Ansoff's matrix, as the business has no experience in the new market and does not know if the product is going to be successful.
Diversification is part of the four main growth strategies defined by Igor Ansoff's Product/Market matrix:
Ansoff pointed out that a diversification strategy stands apart from the other three strategies. The first three strategies are usually pursued with the same technical, financial, and merchandising resources used for the original product line, whereas diversification usually requires a company to acquire new skills, new techniques and new facilities.
Note: The notion of diversification depends on the subjective interpretation of “new” market and “new” product, which should reflect the perceptions of customers rather than managers. Indeed, products tend to create or stimulate new markets; new markets promote product innovation.
Product diversification involves addition of new products to existing products either being manufactured or being marketed. Expansion of the existing product line with related products is one such method adopted by many businesses. Adding tooth brushes to tooth paste or tooth powders or mouthwash under the same brand or under different brands aimed at different segments is one way of diversification. These are either brand extensions or product extensions to increase the volume of sales and the number of customers.
The different types of diversification strategies
The strategies of diversification can include internal development of new products or markets, acquisition of a firm, alliance with a complementary company, licensing of new technologies, and distributing or importing a products line manufactured by another firm. Generally, the final strategy involves a combination of these options. This combination is determined in function of available opportunities and consistency with the objectives and the resources of the company.
There are three types of diversification: concentric, horizontal, and conglomerate.
This means that there is a technological similarity between the industries, which means that the firm is able to leverage its technical know-how to gain some advantage. For example, a company that manufactures industrial adhesives might decide to diversify into adhesives to be sold via retailers. The technology would be the same but the marketing effort would need to change.
It also seems to increase its market share to launch a new product that helps the particular company to earn profit. For instance, the addition of tomato ketchup and sauce to the existing "Maggi" brand processed items of Food Specialities Ltd. is an example of technological-related concentric diversification.
The company could seek new products that have technological or marketing synergies with existing product lines appealing to a new group of customers.This also helps the company to tap that part of the market which remains untapped, and which presents an opportunity to earn profit..
The company adds new products or services that are often technologically or commercially unrelated to current products but that may appeal to current customers. This strategy tends to increase the firm's dependence on certain market segments. For example, a company that was making notebooks earlier may also enter the pen market with its new product.
Conglomerate diversification (or lateral diversification)
The company markets new products or services that have no technological or commercial synergies with current products but that may appeal to new groups of customers. The conglomerate diversification has very little relationship with the firm's current business. Therefore, the main reasons for adopting such a strategy are first to improve the profitability and the flexibility of the company, and second to get a better reception in capital markets as the company gets bigger. Though this strategy is very risky, it could also, if successful, provide increased growth and profitability.
Goal of diversification
According to Calori and Harvatopoulos (1988), there are two dimensions of rationale for diversification. The first one relates to the nature of the strategic objective: Diversification may be defensive or offensive.
Defensive reasons may be spreading the risk of market contraction, or being forced to diversify when current product or current market orientation seems to provide no further opportunities for growth. Offensive reasons may be conquering new positions, taking opportunities that promise greater profitability than expansion opportunities, or using retained cash that exceeds total expansion needs.
The second dimension involves the expected outcomes of diversification: Management may expect great economic value (growth, profitability) or first and foremost great coherence with their current activities (exploitation of know-how, more efficient use of available resources and capacities). In addition, companies may also explore diversification just to get a valuable comparison between this strategy and expansion.
Of the four strategies presented in the Ansoff matrix, Diversification has the highest level of risk and requires the most careful investigation. Going into an unknown market with an unfamiliar product offering means a lack of experience in the new skills and techniques required. Therefore, the company puts itself in a great uncertainty. Moreover, diversification might necessitate significant expanding of human and financial resources, which may detract focus, commitment, and sustained investments in the core industries. Therefore, a firm should choose this option only when the current product or current market orientation does not offer further opportunities for growth. In order to measure the chances of success, different tests can be done:
- The attractiveness test: the industry that has been chosen has to be either attractive or capable of being made attractive.
- The cost-of-entry test: the cost of entry must not capitalize all future profits.
- The better-off test: the new unit must either gain competitive advantage from its link with the corporation or vice versa.
Because of the high risks explained above, many companies attempting to diversify have led to failure. However, there are a few good examples of successful diversification:
- Virgin Group moved from music production to travel and mobile phones
- Walt Disney moved from producing animated movies to theme parks and vacation properties
- Canon diversified from a camera-making company into producing an entirely new range of office equipment.
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