Also, I intend to carry out a shop survey, which will show me how the different competitor magazines are priced. I will do this by going into a newsagent, and noting down the prices of each teen magazine. This is a good method as it will help me in my pricing section, during which I will have to decide on an effective price for my magazine. As I am independently carrying out the method, then it can be counted as a part of my field research. The advantage of doing a shop survey is that it is very time efficient as I only need to go into one shop and look at all the prices for the magazines. As all the prices stay the same for each magazine, I could easily look at the internet, although by going into a store and looking at the magazines, I can get a chance to compare the different covers, their styles and promotional ideas.
As part of my desk research I intend on collating information from two sources; the internet and the actual Cosmogirl company. By using the internet, I will be able to find out any relevant information such as how popular the magazine currently is, and its competition from other monthly teen magazines. I believe it is vital to gain information on other companies, so that marketing strategies can be improved by trying to use unique ideas that have not been used by the other products. The internet is the best method to carry out this research as it provides a vast range of information from Cosmogirl and other competitors. This is because most magazines have a website, which readers can log onto for competitions and more information. However, a disadvantage is that there could be limitless amounts of information found, meaning it is quite time-consuming in the sense that the information is not always relevant.
I intend on contacting the Cosmogirl company by writing a letter to them (shown on next page). By contacting the company I believe that I could get a better insight into how the company decide on the four aspects of the marketing mix. In the letter I want to concentrate on Promotion and Place, which are very important. This is why I am specifically writing to Ms Sharon Douglas, who is the director of consumer sales and marketing, therefore this is her speciality and will be able to help even more. Hopefully, they will reply to my letter, giving me ideas on how they decide to promote their magazine and where they decide to distribute it. I think writing a letter is the best method for this research as it is a way of contacting the company directly, although I realise that technology is used more widely, therefore I also intend to e-mail the editor of the magazine, in case my letter is not acknowledged.
Analysis of questionnaire results
I have created graphs on Microsoft Excel for the closed questions in the questionnaire. The reason I have done this is because it is a much clearer way of presenting the results of my questionnaire, and it also enables me to try and analyse the results and spot any obvious patterns.
Before analysing my results from the questionnaire I am going to evaluate my sample size, as I believe this could have affected the reliability of my results. As I chose a sample size of 30 teenage girls I found that even though my results showed obvious answers, my sample size was too small to show accurate results. Also the fact that I gave out most of my questionnaires in school could have affected the accuracy of my results, as I could have improved my sample size by concentrating on a specific types of sample. For example, I could have chosen to do a stratified sample, where I could choose a certain number of girls from each year group, thus representing different age groups. If I were to repeat this questionnaire process, I would definitely choose a greater sample size, maybe of 50 girls, which would allow me to get results from 10 girls in each year group, however even this may not provide as accurate results. Therefore I believe the best sample size would be 100, as I would then be able to get results from 20 girls in each year group making it much more accurate. It is good to have a larger sample size as it means that more people are being asked so the results are accurate. If I just asked one girl from each year group then it would not be representative of the other girls, as everyone has their own views and ideas, for that reason I believe that asking a greater number of people enables me to cover a wider range of views and address as many views as possible. This is why I think it is important for me to have asked different age groups as a 14 year old may be attracted to different things than a 16 year old would be interested in.
Other reasons why some of the results may not be as accurate as possible could be due to the clarity of the questions. For example, a question may have been too vague, meaning that the consumer may not have understood how to answer it. However, after looking over my questionnaire, I cannot see any questions which were not clear enough. I believe that all of the questions were straightforward and easy to answer. Also, the consumer may have found the questionnaire boring and so they may have rushed the answers, giving results which were not entirely honest. Although, I tried to make the questionnaire as short as possible by only having nine questions, five of which were multiple choice questions. Maybe next time, I should try and make most of the questions multiple choice answers so that it is time efficient for the consumer to fill out, however I also believe it is necessary to include some open questions so that the consumer has an opportunity to give their own thoughts and opinions.
The information that was sent to me by the Cosmogirl’s director of consumer sales and marketing is shown on the next few pages. I have annotated and highlighted certain information that I think is important. It is vital to remember that the information given is what Cosmogirl is currently doing in their marketing plan. From this information I will be able to offer my own suggestions as to how they should price and promote the magazine.
I thought that the information sent to me was quite helpful as it helped get an overview on the success of the magazine i.e. looking at the readership and subscriptions. However I was also sent a media pack which I did not feel had anything to do with my coursework. This is because it concentrated on advertising costs for other businesses who would want to promote in Cosmogirl. Therefore I have left that information in the Appendix at the end of my coursework. I believe information regarding Cosmogirl’s costs to advertise on television or on radio would have been more helpful, as I would have been able to use those figures to come to my own decision about a cost effective marketing plan. One of the reasons I may not have got this information from the company may be that my letter was not specific enough. I should have indicated exactly what information I wanted, as then I would have been more likely to receive more useful data for my coursework. If I did my letter again I would make sure that I was specific, so that I would get the information I wanted. Also I think I would write to the other competitor teen magazines such as Bliss or Sugar so that I would be able to compare the information, and look at their marketing strategies as well. I believe this would help me to cut out any risks as I would be researching my competitors and finding ways to create a marketing strategy that would be effective. Additionally, I should have added into the letter what the cost it was to produce the Cosmogirl magazine. This would have helped me to decide on a price, as I would be able take into consideration the costs of making the magazine, and make sure the company would profit from the price. However, I believe that even if I had added this into my letter, they may not have given me the information, as it may be confidential.
Results of shop survey on magazine prices
In order to carry out my shop survey I went to my local supermarket and looked at the magazine section. I realised that all the teenage magazines are presented next to each other; therefore it is quite important that the front cover is eye-catching, as shown in the letter research section on front cover branding.
As shown in the above table, it is clear that most of the competitor magazines are priced at around the same price. This means that the consumer does not really have a clear choice, pricing wise i.e. if they wanted to buy the cheapest magazine they wouldn’t be able to. These results will be used in the next section, concentrating on the pricing of the product.
Pricing of the product
There are many methods that can be used to set the price of the Cosmogirl magazine. It is currently sold at £2 every three weeks; although after reviewing my questionnaire results, it is clear that many of the teenage girls interviewed believed that the price is too expensive. Therefore, this will influence the lowering of the price. Although, by referring to the information given to me by the actual Cosmogirl company it is stated that they use competitor based pricing. I think this is a good idea as they are maintaining a price that is not higher than other teenage magazines; therefore I think the current price is quite appropriate.
By referring to the results from my shop survey, it is clear that all competitors have the same prices for their magazines, therefore I think by lowering the price by 10p could make a huge difference. This is because consumers would see the price of the other magazines (£2) and then will realise that Cosmogirl magazine is cheaper. Even though there would only be a 10p difference, consumers would definitely think that they were saving money and be encouraged to buy Cosmogirl instead. This is similar to psychological pricing where a product is stated to be under £5, although it is just 1p cheaper i.e. £4.99. Consumers still think they are saving money because it is under £5. The advantage of doing competitor based pricing is that it can quickly increase sales however the disadvantages can sometimes outweigh the good. For example, one disadvantage is that the other magazines may also decide to decrease their price meaning that the competition would increase. This would put more pressure on Cosmogirl to compete and lower their prices. In the long run, this could lead to both magazines concentrating on a lower price, meaning that the quality of their magazine may decrease, turning away consumers. Therefore I think it is not the best option to choose a competitor based price.
Also, I believe that because Cosmogirl is being remarketed it should use the method of promotional pricing which is basically like an introductory offer that will encourage the consumer to purchase the magazine. Cosmogirl’s first remarketed edition could be sold for half the original selling price i.e. £1. Although this may not maximise profits straightaway, I believe that it will give the product more viewing and encourage many more teenage girls to buy the magazine. I also think that a promotional price would encourage new consumers to experience Cosmogirl and therefore introduce more girls to the magazine. The advantage to using this method of pricing is that there could be more awareness about the magazine, increasing the number of customers however a disadvantage is that the company could lose profit because of the low price and it is not certain that after the introductory offer finishes the customers will still continue to buy the magazine. This depends on their own personal response to the magazine’s content and style. As the company will be losing money during the introductory offer, it is important to select a relatively short time span to carry out the offer. I believe it would be good to carry out the promotional offer for the first remarketed edition of Cosmogirl, as the magazine is out every three weeks. I think this would be an appropriate amount of time to leave the offer for, and would limit the amount of profit lost by the Cosmogirl.
Other methods such as creaming and price discrimination cannot be used to price this product as they involve a totally new product. As Cosmogirl magazine is not a major technological product, people will definitely not be prepared to pay high prices for it. Consumers would only do this for products such as laptops and DVD players. Price discrimination is when the product is sold at different prices to different people. This only works mostly with services such as trains which make adults and children pay different prices. This would not work for Cosmogirl magazine because it mainly appeals to teenage girls and therefore cannot be divided into different prices.
Even though this is not a specific method of pricing, I believe I should also take into account the market segment I am targeting. The magazine is specifically aimed at teenage girls therefore I believe it would be a bad decision if the price of the magazine was set very high, as it would mean that it would be difficult for them to buy the magazine. Because of this reason, I do not think the price of the magazine should be more than £5 and should definitely be below £5. I can back this up with the results from my questionnaire which revealed that 53% of the girls asked thought the price was too expensive.
Overall, I think the best plan for Cosmogirl would be to do a promotional offer of £1 so that more consumers can be attracted to the magazine. This promotional price would only take place for the first edition i.e. it will run for three weeks. After this time period I believe the magazine should be priced to £2 as this is the price range that most other teenage magazines have priced their magazines. This would keep Cosmogirl level with the other magazines and by then it would have increased its number of consumers through the promotional offer. I was intending on initially pricing the magazine at £1.90 which would have been lower than the other competitors however after weighing the advantages and disadvantages I decided that the price may not be beneficial to the magazine in the long run. Therefore the price of Cosmogirl will remain at £2, the same price chosen by the Cosmogirl company.
Promoting the product
Promotion is one of the most important aspects of the marketing mix. It is essential that this factor is right as it could ultimately attract more consumers to buy the magazine. By promoting the product, consumers are informed and made aware about the Cosmogirl magazine. Also, the benefits of the product are highlighted, showing the consumer how the product will benefit them. For example, one of Cosmogirl’s beneficial points would be that it gives tips to young girls about certain issues such as new fashions. This point leads to the most important goal of promotion which is to encourage and persuade teenage girls to buy the magazine.
The whole aspect of promotion can be divided into three main categories, which are explained below:-
- ADVERTISING- This is probably the most popular form of promotion due to the extensive range of media that can be used. The area that the product is sold in and the progress it is making can influence the type of media used to advertise the product, whether it be broadcast media such as television or printed media such as local papers.
- PUBLIC RELATIONS- This involves trying to keep the customer happy by following the golden rule of ‘customer knows best’. This simple saying means that the customer should always be treated kindly and with respect. Whatever he customer says is right, and the company should do all they can to keep them happy. This is based around the reputation of a company. For example, the fast food burger chain, McDonalds has a very good corporate image due to its uniform and service; however recent concerns on the nutritional content of the food have caused its image to become tarnished. Endorsements are also classified under public relations. These involve celebrities stating that they use the product. For example, if the famous singer Beyonce Knowles stated in an interview that she always a certain shampoo then it would be promoted because people would want to use the same products as the stars.
- SALES PROMOTION- These are concerned with the actual selling of the product. The methods are used to persuade as many people to by the magazine as possible. Often free gifts and special offers are used to try and persuade the consumer to buy the product. These are normally part of the packaging. For example, a cereal packet may say on the cover ‘FREE ACTION TOY INSIDE!’ This may cause people to buy the product. Children are especially targeted by sales promotions due to their naivety. Many children may get their parents to buy something just because it has a free toy inside.
I will now go through what Cosmogirl has done o try and promote its product. Firstly, by using advertising the magazine has successfully created an advertisement which is shown on peak television. This means that it is shown during popular times so that many people get a chance to see the advertisement. I have also noticed that it is shown after school, in between the breaks. I think this is an effective time slot because it is when most children sit to watch their children programmes. This is a good decision as it would be pointless to show it in daytime television as children would be at school and so the target market would not be addressed. Some concerns have arisen over the manipulative advertising market on television due to fast food adverts being shown at times when children are most likely to watch them. This is due to the high rate of obesity in the country however I believe that advertising a magazine is not as manipulative or dangerous to a child’s health so I think the television promotion of Cosmogirl has been accurate and effective. Cosmogirl has been advertised on the radio too. However the company have been particular in the stations they advertise on. They have chosen radio stations which are known for having wide teenage listeners. Kiss FM and Choice FM are examples of the radio stations. These are listened to by teenagers therefore they are the best ones to advertise on, simply because many more teenage girls will hear it. The fact that the company can advertise on national television and on popular radio stations shows that they must be receiving a lot of profit, which they can invest in good advertising. By referring to my questionnaire results, I can also see that many of the teenage girls saw Cosmogirl advertised on posters/billboards which can also extend the range of customers. Although, I believe that billboards and posters are more effective for products which are generic and can be used by anyone. The advantage to Cosmogirl advertising on television and radio is that they can reach a wide audience, especially since they have been specific in choosing the right time slots and radio stations; however a disadvantage of using such advertising is the fact that it can be very expensive to the company. The advertisements can cost the company a lot of time and money. Valuable time needs to be spent deciding on an effective advertisement which might involve getting a celebrity to endorse the magazine, increasing the costs. Also, the time slots can be very expensive due to the many companies who are competing to get their advertisements at the same time i.e. in between children’s TV programs.
Cosmogirl also uses public relations to try and promote the magazine. The magazine is endorsed by many celebrities who do interviews for the magazine. Normally the cover of each month contains a picture of a famous person. An example can be seen in October’s issue which has a picture of Rachel Stevens, a famous singer. This is a good way of promoting the product due to the fact that teenage girls are influenced very easily and therefore would want to buy the magazine just because it is advertised by a star. Although, it could cost the Cosmogirl company a lot of money to pay the celebrities to have interviews and appear on their front cover. However, it is important that the right celebrity is picked. If a celebrity who has a bad image decides to endorse the magazine then this may give the whole magazine a bad reputation, which would in turn decrease sales. The magazine also gives away gifts and posters to try and encourage the reader to buy the magazine. This can be linked to sales promotions, because giving away free gifts is a way of increasing sales. An advantage of giving free gifts to the customers is that it immediately encourages them to buy the magazine, as they feel that they are getting value for their money.
Sales promotion is widely used by Cosmogirl to try and maximise the number of consumers buying the magazine. In the recent issue of Cosmogirl it had money off coupons for Tammy inside. I believe this can be seen as a joint promotion as well because Cosmogirl is also advertising Tammy products. Obviously if a reader has coupons for Tammy they will have to go to Tammy to use them, therefore Tammy benefits as it gains more customers. I believe this is a very effective method of promotion and has the advantage of promoting two companies at the same time. The advantage of using such joint promotions is the fact that it can improve links with other companies which could help Cosmogirl company in the long run. Also, Cosmogirl can advertise even more through Tammy stores, which may persuade more customers to buy the magazine.
It is important to remember that Cosmogirl is an international magazine, as it is sold all over the world, therefore the promotions that the company carry out in England, are probably applied to the other countries the magazine is sold in. the fact that the magazine can be sold internationally indicates that it is probably very successful owing to the fact that the company is prepared to takes risks in other countries.
As seen from above, it is clear that Cosmogirl magazine addresses all three aspects of promotion in its marketing campaign. I believe that Cosmogirl does not use certain methods such as customer loyalty cards or direct mail for specific reasons. Customer loyalty cards are better suited for shops and supermarkets which are frequently used by customers. For example, most leading supermarkets have reward cards which customers collect points on and are rewarded with cash or coupons. This would not work for Cosmogirl because it is sold in different areas and the whole point of a card is to make sure that the consumer sticks to shopping at the same place. I believe direct mail would be inappropriate as it is not targeted at anybody in particular and therefore a waste of paper and money.
Cosmogirl could further improve its promotion by sponsoring a teenage programme. I believe this would be good because it would give the company a good corporate image. At the start of each programme a small advertisement would appear showing that Cosmogirl supports the programme and is sponsoring it. Although this can only be done depending on the amount of money the company has and whether any television programmes want sponsorship.
The new promotional offer that has been decided as a part of the pricing factor also needs to be promoted. This could be done in many ways. One method could be by putting up posters within stores, advertising the promotional price. Cosmogirl currently does this type of method anyway because posters are cost effective and quick to produce however I do not think this should be the only form of promotion used to raise awareness about the new offer. The offer could be advertised on the television and radio, so that it can reach a wider range of audience although this would be quite expensive, as a new advertisement may have to be produced. However, I think this would be the best option because in the end it would be much easier to advertise the new offer. I realise that the advertisement would only run for a total of three weeks therefore it may not be worth spending extra money on it. In my opinion, the company would be better off advertising the offer through radio and television because I believe it would be the most effective solution. By referring to my questionnaire results it is clear that the majority saw Cosmogirl advertised through the television, and so I believe that more teenage girls will be exposed to the new offer through these mediums and so may be persuaded to go out and buy the magazine. In order to make this happen, the advertisement would have to be clear and straight to the point, placing a great deal of emphasis on the promotional offer.
Deciding on a place
When deciding on a place to sell the magazine, I had to refer back to the results of my questionnaire. They showed that most girls purchased their magazines from the supermarket. As stated before, I believe Cosmogirl made the right choice in distributing its magazine to supermarkets. The advantage of it being sold in a supermarket is that many families go for a weekly shop in the weekend therefore it is convenient to pick up a magazine on the way. The magazine can also be bought over the internet using book services such as or going to the actual Cosmogirl site and subscribing to it. By looking at the data provided by the Cosmogirl company, it is clear that subscribing on the internet is very successful, as it is stated that they have 54000 e-subscribers. This method is good because it appeals to teenagers who don’t even want to go out to the shops and purchase their magazines.
All products have a channel of distribution which basically describes the steps through which the product goes to I order to reach the consumer. By referring to the places mentioned above I can describe the supermarket as going through a channel of distribution of:-
PRODUCER RETAILER CONSUMER
The channel of distribution for subscription or internet order customers would probably be:-
The magazine would go straight to the consumer because it would be delivered to the customer’s doorstep, whereas in the other channel, the magazine would first be delivered to the retailer and then purchased by the customer.
The magazine would probably be delivered by lorries as the magazine would be manufactured in factories in major towns or cities. I believe this is the method for distribution because other transportation such as plane or shipping would be inappropriate. A plane would not be needed to transport magazines from the factory to the retailer and would be an unwanted expense. However, I believe that postage would be quite an efficient method to use by the company, especially for the subscribers. Postage would also save a lot of time and mean that Cosmogirl would have to employ fewer drivers to transport the magazine to its destination.
It is important to acknowledge that Cosmogirl magazine is sold worldwide. I found this out from my internet research which informed me that the place for each country may not be the same. As I am concentrating on England, I believe that retail shops such as supermarkets and newsagents would be the best channels of distribution for the magazine. They would use few steps in the distribution channel as shown in the first diagram. Also they seem to be the most popular methods preferred by consumers. I think the best places to aim to distribute Cosmogirl would be newsagents near secondary schools. This is because it would open up a greater number of customers, as secondary schools consist of teenagers, therefore it would be the perfect place to distribute the magazine. I think this because I believe many children frequent a newsagent near their school on the way home to buy snacks and therefore they would be more likely to see the magazine and purchase it. This links with the promotion of the new offer, as it would definitely need to be heavily advertised (using posters) in a shop located near a secondary school, as it would be more likely that children would see it on the way to school.
Cosmogirl could furthermore improve its marketing by maybe thinking about doing direct sales. Direct sales are basically when a salesperson goes door-to-door trying to persuade somebody to buy the product. Worldwide it would be quite impossible to go to every house and try to convince someone to buy the magazine. In reality, I now believe this method would not be beneficial for the company and may not provide the right channel of distribution. This method would be more suited for cosmetics such as Avon.
By addressing all four aspects of the marketing mix, I have managed to come up with what I believe is an effective marketing strategy. The first factor of the marketing mix is Product, which I have addressed by accentuating the fact that it concentrates on the market segments of age and gender i.e. teenage girls. The Product Life Cycle has also shown that my product is in the right stage to be remarketed. The next factor concentrates on the Pricing of the product, which has been thoroughly discussed, concluding with a promotional price of £1. Promotion is the next factor. This aspect shows that Cosmogirl has already made successful decisions and therefore promoted its product using all three factors of the Promotion aspect. I have also suggested my own idea of sponsoring a children’s program, supported by the fact that it would advertise the company and give Cosmogirl a good reputation. Lastly, the Place of the product has shown that supermarkets and newsagents are the most successful area in which to distribute the magazine, along with technological advances such as internet shopping and subscribing online. So by referring to the coursework title, ‘How can a product be marketed effectively?’ the answer is simply, by acknowledging all four components of the marketing mix and applying them to the products needs and the customer’s expectations. Overall, I think Cosmogirl initially made some good decisions themselves, especially in the last two aspects of Promotion and Place. I believe that with the recommendations I suggested in all four parts, the sales for Cosmogirl would increase dramatically. It is important that none of the parts are forgotten, as then this could lead to the decline of sales rather than the increase.
By using the research from my questionnaire and shop surveys, I was able to support my arguments for the different methods. When searching on the internet, I found the Cosmogirl website very useful and the actual Cosmogirl magazine was of good quality, which showed from its layout and paper.
I found this coursework useful in many ways. It gave me a chance to study, in depth, the effect that the marketing mix has on the success of a product, in my case Cosmogirl magazine. The benefit of doing this coursework is the fact that I had to carry out many different methods of research, which actually helped improve my researching skills. The fact that I used many different forms of research meant that I gathered a lot of information and data. This meant that I had to be very critical and try and select the most relevant data that would help in my coursework.
Personally, I have learnt that it takes a lot of time and thinking into marketing a product. It is not just the advertising that is important, which is what I used to think before. I have realised that every bit of the product needs to be researched and customer views need to be listened to, so that the product can reach its maximum goal of high consumer sales, which lead to a high revenue.
One drawback of doing this coursework was that some of my results form my questionnaire were not reliable enough, therefore I could not rely on them as much. In order to try and get as accurate results as possible I believe that next time I would need to decide on a much larger sample size and a stratified sample which would represent teenage girls of all ages. As I have acknowledged this point throughout my coursework I believe I have now realised that it is vitally important to get reliable results in order to make justifiable decisions, that I could support using my results.
Sources of evidence
Below is a list of all the evidence used in my coursework:-
3. Results from questionnaire (graphs)
4. Results from shop survey
5. Information provided by the Cosmogirl company
6. October issue of Cosmogirl
8. My own knowledge
Appendix (a collection of research that was not used in my coursework) is shown on the next few pages➔