SunCity - developing marketing strategy for problem

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Victoria Webb

Candidate number: 1173

Centre number: 27101

Sun City-Introduction


 In 2005 Sun City was primarily a tanning salon; it offered stand up and lie-down sunbeds. It opened its one and only shop in Kettering town centre in Northamptonshire and it was small and unknown in the town as it is not a franchise and has no other shops. Now, in 2007 things have changed, the company has grown and is now a well known tanning salon including features such as a nail bar, and hairdressers.

The store is based in the town centre just off the high street; this aids in attracting a lot of customers. Especially as they offer walk in appointments, no need to book. The back of the store is also facing into the town centre’s main car park, which they have used to their advantage by displaying billboards and advertisements.

Recently Sun City has expanded and although still primarily a tanning salon, now offers nail therapy, hairdressing, and spray tanning. Because now they offer more of a variety of services they are able to sell more upmarket well known brands of products e.g., tigi hair products and californiation spray tanning.

Sun City has also recently refurbished their salon to make way for their hairdressing and nail therapy. The salon looks very professional and clean and modern, as shown above. With their vast range of products on show this allows for more purchases to be made.

When Sun City first opened 2 years ago, it employed one full time worker as a receptionist. Now, they have 6 employees; 3 full time, each doing around 40 hours a week, and 3 part time, doing between 5 and 20 hours a week.

Sun City is an ltd, private limited company; this means they get the benefit of limited liability, so only the company and assets are at risk if company bankrupts or cant pay its loans. It also means that shares can be sold to people they know and trust, the current have total control over who can buy/own shares if in agreement, and their company cannot be taken over by another company unless over 50% of the shares are owned by other people.

Sun City’s main competitors are, ‘The sun tan shop’, and ‘sun and slim’ however these are not in the centre of town, they are just in Kettering and offer similar services to Sun City.

Sun City - the problem – the impact of negative publicity in the media on the use of sunbeds.

There are many health risks with sunbeds, I have found that this is the main problem with Sun City; It is not that the sunbeds are faulty, it is the fact that people are scared to use them because there are risks like skin cancer etc. This is affecting Sun City because they are losing many potential customers because of the reputation of the sunbeds.

The media plays a very big part in the amount of customers who will use sunbeds, negative media exposure on sunbeds especially, for example, the stories and factual information being forced to the public using televisions or magazines etc. these can be very bad for all salons and sunbed operators because the public is influenced by the media more than any other source, this causes a big problem for Sun City.

There are many misconceptions regarding sunbeds and people are being deterred by the ‘health risks’ yes it may be true sunbeds play a role in skin cancer but it has yet to be proven.

This is a link to the BUPA page regarding skin cancer, and according to the data, it has been proved skin cancer is linked to excessive sun exposure and it is believed, but so far there is no evidence that sunbeds are related.

I aim to analyse this problem and without disregarding the health risks, I will encourage people to use sunbeds and stop them being deterred by the risks.

As-well as the risks with using sunbeds there are also other problems which deter people away from using sunbeds, for example if sunbeds appear dangerous people are going to look for and opt for alternatives for example spray-tans or self tanning products, this will also cause problems for sunbed operators.

I aim to find out what Sun City does promotional and otherwise to counteract the negative image portrayed by the media on sunbeds and the risks of using them. There is also factual information to say that there are in fact benefits of using sunbeds which Sun City does not use to its advantage, I will therefore come up with suitable recommendations to help Sun City. Without counteracting the negative media with positive facts Sun City will eventually lose customers and potential customers therefore losing profit, which could be very bad for them.

 It is very important to solve the problem of negative media exposure, and although Sun City being a small ltd company cannot tell the media what to, and what not to say, they can counteract it with their own promotional materials, the good facts etc about sunbeds. It is a major problem for Sun City because their primary source of income is from sunbeds and if less and less people are using sunbeds because of this, Sun City will in a very difficult situation. There are many potential problems this negative media exposure can cause, some of these include, a loss of customers and/or potential customers, loss of sales and profit, this in turn could impact Sun City in quite a short period of time. If Sun City is not making enough money, any unpaid loans they have outstanding will not get paid incurring penalties and late payment charges. If Sun City does not have any or much retained profit, and something goes wrong within the company, e.g. a sunbed breaks, or a leak arises, Sun City will not have the funds to repair this, meaning potential closure and even a total loss of their business due to bankruptcy etc. for these reasons it is very important that Sun City looks into the issues of negative media exposure and takes note of the recommendations I will make at the end of my investigation.

Sun City- my aims and objectives

My aims are what I intend to find out and why.

Objectives– I am going to find out what the objectives of Sun City are and whether or not they are realistic and how they help Sun City stay on track, I have chosen this aim for Sun City’s objectives because finding out what Sun City’s objectives are will help me understand what Sun City’s current priorities are within their businesses.

Budgets– I am going to find out about the budgets of Sun City, why they are important to the business and how setting and sticking to budgets will benefit the business. I will find out how much money Sun City spends on budgets and on research and advertisement, of both their services, products and special offers, and if they stick to them. I will then relate the research to the problem and see of there is any correlation between the amount spent and the amount of customers Sun City currently has. It is very important for Sun City to have and be sticking to their budget as this allows money to be spent where needed most, but without ignoring the other areas of the business, it will also stop them from overspending and therefore maximise profit. I have decided to have this as my aim because once I have determined where all of Sun City’s money goes I can perhaps attempt to adjust this if it is not as cost efficient as it could be, for example if a lot of money is being spent in their administration department and hardly any is being spent in the promotional department I will be able to see why Sun City is not counteracting the negative media exposure. Also if Sun City is not making much profit and is spending lots of money on unnecessary things they will not have much retained profit in case of emergencies, and this is very important. There may however be a problem with this aim as I am asking Sun City to tell me their budgets, including detailed profit and loss accounts etc this may be a problem due to confidentiality.

Market research– market research is the research a company will carry out to their customers and potential customers, they will find out what they want, and what they think is important, this will help Sun City to prioritise their tasks and alter their own objectives and goals. Once relevant information has been found out, through using a manager’s interview, I will judge whether adequate market research is taking place, and whether more or less market research will help with solving their problem. I will aim to find out information on their market research, whether they do any and to what extent, and which market segment do they primarily target as their customers. It is very important that Sun City carries out regular market research. Because Sun City is a relatively small company and will only generally attract customers from the local area it is very important to find what their opinions on things are and what they think of current issues and the salon in general. By finding out what market research Sun City carries out I will be able to recommend other ways of finding out what the public think, especially regarding the issues with sunbeds in the current media.

Market segmentation

Market segmentation is breaking a total market down into groups of customers and/or potential customers who have something significant in common in terms of their needs and wants or characteristics. Segmenting the market is a very important part of a business. A market has to be segmented in order for the company to decide which market segment they wish to aim at, a market can be segmented using many different categories e.g., Socio-economic segmentation, Demographic Segmentation and Geographic segmentation, these are a few of the ways companies use to segment a market, I will go into more detail when it comes to my secondary research. Finding out how Sun City segments their market will help in determining how well they know their own market and the potential customers in the market surrounding them. It may be that Sun City does not segment their market, if this is the case, a big problem will arise and Sun City could potentially decrease costs on marketing etc by just advertising to a specific target audience as apposed to people in general.

  The marketing mix– the marketing mix consists of the 4p’s, price, place, promotion and product. I will research Sun City and find out about how they deal with them and which they concentrate most on and which they need to address, then I will relate them to the problem and decide whether they have or will affect or make a difference to the problem.

Price– the prices of a business drastically affect the types of customers they will attract, I will research the prices of Sun City’s products/services and compare them to other companies in the same field, e.g. hairdressing, nail therapy, and tanning, I will do this by using questionnaires, I will then be able to determine whether the price is one of the main contributors to the decision of the customers to buy the product/pay for the service. From the results I will get I will then be able find out if the prices charged to use the sunbeds affect the amount of customers, in a good or bad way. I will also try to relate the prices with the target market Sun City is aiming at, this will help me to solve the problem of negative media exposure as price is linked to promotion and is all linked to budgeting, if prices are higher for example, people with more disposable income will be most likely to be attracted to the salon, this means that specific measures will need to be taken when advertising the salon and promoting against the media exposure.

Place I am going to look at where Sun City is based and look at the shops around it, I will also ask customers and potential customers what they think to the location of Sun City. From this I will be able to determine whether it is a good location for a tanning salon, and what the potential drawbacks and benefits are from being in that particular location. Looking at where the shop has been situated and the shops around will give me an idea of the money that is available to be spent, as well as the responses from my questionnaires. I will look at the estates around the tanning salon as this will give me an idea of the socio-economic groups of the people around it so how much money they can spend and how well Sun City has based their prices on this.

Promotion- this is the main part of the marketing mix I will focus on, it is the most important in that my investigation is based around the negative publicity on the use of sunbeds, and if Sun City counteracts this bad media with good promotion. I aim to research what promotion Sun City uses, how much and where it is placed, I will then see if it makes a difference to the amount of customers it will attract and conclude whether it is enough or in suitable locations and recommend where I would put advertisements etc. I will find out if the promotion of effective and link it to the problem, for example, the positive effects of sunbeds is not being promoted Sun City could have a big problem and are not successfully retaliating against the bad publicity. If there is not enough promotion or if the promotion is bad customers may not know about the sunbeds or the positive things therefore I will make recommendations on how to improve the promotion direct it to their target market and how they should counteract the bad media exposure. By investigating to what extend Sun City promotes I can adjust this accordingly to solve the main problem of negative media exposure to counteract it with positive advertisements about sunbeds and the salon.

Product- on the whole, the product or service a company offers is the most important thing, if the product or service is not demanded then the company will fail. I am going to find out what ‘products’ Sun City sell, and if the products make a difference to whether people come and use the sunbeds or not, unrecognisable brands or brands with bad reputations may deter people from using the sunbeds, but on the other hand well known brands may encourage people to use the sunbeds, although it may make no difference at all. I will also find out about the services i.e. the sunbeds, the spray tanning etc Sun City offer and how successful they are, I will do this using questionnaires to the customers, I will then decide whether the sunbeds are generating income etc and help perhaps alter the way they promote their products making them seem more appealing.

Conclusion- After all of my primary and secondary research has been completed I aim to conclude my findings and relate them back to my aims and objectives to see if I achieved what I aimed to do.

Recommendations– This is where I will attempt to make suggestions for Sun City after my primary and secondary research. I will use all the evidence and information at hand to come up with recommendations for helping the problem at Sun City.  


Manager interview- I aim to carry out an informal interview with the owner/manager of Sun City. This is a good source of information which will help in the analysis of the companies marketing strategy. From the interview I will gain in-depth information about the problem and how it affects their business. This method of research is reliable as it comes straight from the managers of the business. It is cost effective as it requires a sheet of paper to write notes and will not take a long time to complete as it only has to be done once.

General staff interview- I aim to carry out interviews with some members of staff as this will let me know how much information they are made aware of and how well the communication inside the business as this is very important in a business. This may be a bit more difficult to carry out than the managers, for example only 2 staff are on at one time, plus a manager, this means I will have to go into the salon several times to get a varied opinion from different members of staff, this will ensure accuracy and not a biased opinion.

Customer questionnaire- I aim to carry out a questionnaire inside the Sun City shop in order to question customers I will do this to find out about the market to which Sun City appeals mainly to. I will question them about all aspects of the marketing mix as the customers are a vital part of the business and will help in solving the problem. I personally thing a customer questionnaire is a good way of researching the market, it is the easiest way to get the customers to answer my questions, by leaving them on the table with the magazines with a note explaining what it is and how it could help it does not require much of anybody’s time, however in order to get enough willing participants I will have to wait several weeks for them to be filled in. it is also not the most reliable way because people could lie s they are anonymous questionnaires however once they have read Howe important it is to be honest I am sure the majority of the customers will answer accurately and honestly. I will not include personal questions which may invade the participants’ privacy as this will be sure to put some people off filling in the questionnaire and will make people more likely to lie.

Potential customer questionnaire- I aim to carry out a questionnaire to people who could potentially visit Sun City, I will gain information such as what people who use other salons think of Sun City and why they don't use it, and which segment they belong to. This will then enable me to conclude what the main flaws with Sun City are regarding the customers. My potential customer questionnaire will take a bit more time to get results for because I have to stand in the street and ask people, I therefore have to print of several questionnaires so is not very cost effective. It is however the only way I feel I can obtain the results I need for my investigation analysis and conclusions.


I am going to look at how Sun City sets objectives, what the objectives are, and how they plan on meeting these objectives.

Before I go into detail on the objectives of Sun City and how they can be used to help solve the problem I will need to introduce the importance of them to a normal business. To gain this information I will carry out secondary research, I will use the Internet as well as textbooks from the school library as this will help me gain the information on general aspects of businesses. I aim to carry out an informal interview with the owner/manager of Sun City also; this is a good source of information which will help in the analysis of the company’s objectives etc. I will focus a part of my questionnaire on the objectives, I will ask questions such as “what are the current objectives of Sun City, short term and long term” and I will try and relate the questions to their sun-beds. I will also discover if the objectives they set are set using the SMART way, as this is very important in the success of meeting the objectives, I will go into more detail on SMART in my secondary research section of my investigation.  I believe that to get results for this section I have chosen the most cost effective resources, interviews and text books (already provided) and the most reliable method, with the exception of the internet; however the internet will only be used where information from text books cannot be found.


I aim to assess how Sun City sets budgets, and how successful they are at keeping to them.

To find out about budgets as part of my secondary research I will use textbooks to research what they are, what the advantages and disadvantages are of using them and why they are important to a business. When I investigate the budgets of Sun City I will use my interview with the manager. I will direct a certain section of my interview to this and explore what the budgets of Sun City are, have they been met in the past, and how why they are essential and beneficial to the operation of Sun City. By using text books and a manager’s interview for this section I believe my results will be very accurate and reliable, it is also cost effective as it only requires one trip to see the managers and the textbooks are already provided and can be used in a library for no charge. There are however problems that I may be faced with, for example confidentiality, businesses do not have to release information they are not comfortable releasing and therefore with things like budgets confidentiality may be a problem.

The marketing mix

I will find out information on the marketing mix through secondary research, by getting definitions etc from text books and the internet etc, and then I will find out the prices and products in the shop by looking at them. The place and promotion by looking on the internet and asking customers etc, I will also find out what people think of these things regarding specifically to Sun City by using the questionnaires. Secondary research can never be 100% accurate as it is relying on research someone else has already carried out and that person may have had a biased opinion or made mistakes which you cannot know as you don’t know their method or anything. I can however only use reputable internet sites and reliable text books. Secondary research should not take a long time as all the results and analysis of certain things have been done for you; all I will need to do is select which bits are relevant to my work.


I intend to find out about the products sold in Sun City and the services they offer, I will do this by looking in the store at the different range of products, and asking the staff in-store about the services they provide. I will do this to ensure Sun City offer a range of products to buy and a range of services, the more things they can offer the more people have a choice from, the more people will be attracted to the store, especially over other salons, and this is good. However a small range of services and offers can often mean they don’t have specifically what the customers want and this is very bad. Finding out what products the store has in by looking at them is simple enough and is pretty much foolproof, however it may be the case that some stock has ran out and is therefore not on the shelves, a smaller range of products will therefore be on show and this will not give me a fair representation of all the full range of products Sun City stocks.


In order to find out about the place, I will firstly visit the store and make my own opinion about the place the salon is situated, I will then carry out questionnaires as this provides me with first hand evidence of what the customers and potential customers think of the place, I will ask questions for example, is it convenient, did you know it was there etc, to find out about the location of the salon and how well it works with the type of business Sun City is. Looking at where Sun City is situated myself will only give me my own opinion which can not be used for any conclusive evidence, however by doing a questionnaire on a large number of people will give me a fair representation if what the general public thinks. People are not likely to lie on this questionnaire as there are no questions about personal things which people would be reluctant to answer, as long as I carry out the questionnaire on a significant number of people the results should be reasonably accurate.


Prices are very important, they can determine whether a customer will buy a product or pay for a service or not, there is a thin line between what people will pay and what people wont. I will find out about the pricing of Sun City by firstly researching the different pricing strategies Sun City could potentially use using text books as part of my secondary research, I will then ask customer and potential customer questionnaires to see what people think of the prices at Sun City and whether they think the prices are reasonable or not, I will then find out from the managers interview how Sun City prices their products and how successful they think it has been for them. Finding out about the potential pricing strategies will be simple as it involves research on the internet and text books, it will also be reasonably accurate as it is just information, not statistics which can sometimes be biased. Finding out what people think regarding the prices will take some time as I will have to ask 2 different questionnaires to two separate groups of people and carry out a managers interview to see what the management think if their own pricing methods. This information I am gathering is mainly people’s opinions therefore the information will be quite accurate as there is no right or wrong answers.


This is the most important part of the marketing mix for my investigation, how well Sun City and the sunbeds are being promoted is vital. With all the negative media exposure, sunbeds need to be advertised in a positive way, I will find out about promotion in a similar way to price, I will first use secondary research, books and the internet to find out different potential ways Sun City could promote the sunbeds and their business, and then what customers think and finally how Sun City actually does promote the sunbeds and I will then make a decision whether or not they are doing enough of the right sort of promotion given the circumstances with the negative attention from sunbeds and recommend what I think they should do. In the same way as my research for pricing, I will have to use text books and the internet to find out about different methods of promotion, this will not take me a long time and should be accurate information. Finding out how Sun City promotes itself and its sunbeds will involve asking 2 different questionnaires and should be quite accurate as it is just people’s opinions. Because I am conducting two questionnaires however the process may be very time consuming, despite how time consuming this may be it is the best way of getting reliable and accurate results. Finding out what the management does to help counteract the negative media exposure will involve carrying out a manager’s interview and all information should be accurate as it comes straight from the manager’s mouths, there is a possibility they could be lying, and this will make my investigation very difficult as it will not be based on actual information.

Market research

 Market research is very important, it lets companies know what they are up against, for example there would be no point setting prices for a sunbed at £1 a minute if surrounding areas were charging 20p as you would severely lose out on business, it is important to know what the people around you are pricing at and what the customers want and are willing to pay for a variety of services. I will find out how Sun City carries out market research, in order to do this I will look at other salons prices and their range of products and services and also carry out a manager’s questionnaire to see what they already know about their direct competition and also how often they carry out market research. I will also find out how often Sun City asks their potential customers what they feel would be necessary in order to visit Sun City instead of their existing salon. To do this it will not be very time efficient, I will have to travel to all salons in a close radius to Sun City and collect information on all available services and products. The information is very reliable as it is all straight from the salons. I will then have to ask questionnaires to potential customers, this is also quite reliable information as it is being asked directly to the potential customers. I will also have to do a managers interview, the whole process will take quite a long time and is not very time efficient, it will however provide accurate information.

Market segmentation

To ensure Sun City are correctly segmenting their market I will firstly carry out a managers interview to find out how they segment their market and then which segment they have decided to aim their promotions and their products at. I will then carry out a customer questionnaire which will have a section to ask which section they fit into depending on what the manager says and I will then recommend what Sun City could do to specifically target their target market etc. it is reasonably cost efficient to carry out a managers interview and I only need to carry out one questionnaire for this part of my investigation, this will therefore be time efficient and it will provide accurate results.


After analysing both my primary and my secondary research, I will recommend ways in which Sun City can overcome the problem of negative media exposure.

After I have written my conclusion I will work out which problems can be changed and which are just general problems, for example, the hot weather and use of sunbeds link. I will then write recommendations for the business and what then should do to prevent or minimise the problems.

Secondary research

Secondary research is where information is collected from third party sources for example, text books, the internet etc, it is very important to do as it gives you information on things you couldn’t get otherwise. A business looking to price their products would use secondary research to find information on different pricing strategies and then decide which one would work best for them, unless the company has millions of pounds to spend on their own research team researching other businesses and customers etc secondary research is the best way to find out information. Secondary research is also very helpful for businesses with little time, as primary research is very time consuming, for example, using the example above, this would take many months or even years to carry out enough research to achieve accurate reliable results. One problem with secondary research however is that information on the internet is not necessarily 100% reliable and accurate, it would save money and time to use someone else’s research, however using secondary research could mean compromising on reliability of it as the people who carried out the market research may have been slightly biased toward particular aspects of the research therefore making in less accurate. My secondary research has been carried out with Sun City in mind, for example I have looked at all the different sections I have mentioned in my objectives as these are the things that will benefit Sun City. I have looked at things such as SMART business objectives because that in particular would be very important to Sun City when setting objectives. I have also looked at things related to businesses in general, for example ‘the purpose of a budget’ applies to any business in general as it is vital for success.

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An objective is where the business wants to go in the future, its goals. It is a statement of purpose. Business organisations are established for the purpose of achieving specific objectives and it is against these objectives that the success or failure of the organisation can be judged. In order to be successful, objectives should always be quantifiable, measurable and time specific, e.g., ‘we aim to increase profits by 6% by February 2009’. This is needed to bring about a consistent approach and ensure that all people within a workforce are all heading in the same direction.


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