Marketing 101: The 5 Cs

4.3

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Marketing a product is not as easy as it might seem. As regular consumers, we only ever get to see the marketing efforts of a company once they’re up and running. We rarely, if ever, get to see what goes on behind the scenes. To be honest, marketing is not just about coming up with new and innovative ideas to advertise a product; a lot of analysis goes into it.

Before formulating a marketing strategy, a company has to first get to know the current scenario and the challenges that it needs to overcome. To do this, most companies utilize a specialized framework known as the 5 Cs of marketing. And this framework is what is going to be the crux of this chapter of Smart Money. Let’s begin.

What are the 5 Cs of marketing?

As you’ve already read, the 5 Cs of marketing essentially point to a framework that companies use to understand the current environment in which they operate. It allows them to analyze certain key factors such as the advantages, the disadvantages, and the challenges they face. This, in turn, enables companies to formulate a marketing strategy in accordance with these key factors for maximum success.

Now, the 5 Cs that this framework entails can be broken down into the following elements:

  • Company
  • Customer
  • Collaborators
  • Competition
  • Climate

We’ll take up each ‘C’ separately and try to understand what it means, starting with the first one - the company.

Company

In order to be able to properly formulate a marketing strategy that produces the intended results, it is essential for a company to first do a self-analysis. While this might sound trivial or unnecessary, it can help a business understand itself better. Only when a company has properly understood itself and its standing, can it move towards understanding the other external factors.

For instance, a company wanting to obtain a deeper understanding of itself and its business could ask itself the following questions.

  • What are all the products or services that it provides?
  • What are the products or services that are popular and how much of an impact does it have on the revenues? 
  • What are the unique selling points of its products or services?
  • How do its consumers view the products or services that it produces?
  • What makes its consumers buy its products or services?
  • Do its products and services cater to its consumers’ needs?
  • Can improvements be made? If so, where?
  • Are there any compromises that it needs to make?
  • What are the goals of its business and how close is it to achieving them?

Answering these questions truthfully can help most businesses determine its current standing and can even help make improvements where need be. In addition to this, a company could also make a SWOT analysis on itself for additional insights. We’ll take a look at SWOT analysis in detail in the next chapter of this module.

Customer

Customers are the pillars of a business. Without them, no company can even hope to survive. So, analyzing the pulse of the customers is something that every business needs to do regularly. The focus for every company shouldn’t just be on bringing in more consumers, but also on ensuring that the existing customers are retained. This way, a business can build a customer base that’s loyal to it. 

A company that’s looking to understand its customers could ask itself these questions.

  • Who are its target customers?
  • Who are they people currently buying its products or services, and are they the intended target group?    
  • Have its consumers reacted negatively to any of its products or services? If so, what were the reactions like?
  • Are there any unpopular products or services? If so, why aren’t consumers interested in them?
  • What are the pages that customers frequently visit on the company’s website?
  • What features do the customers like or dislike about its products or services?
  • Do customers prefer to keep coming back to the company for its products or services?
  • Is there a platform for customers to give their feedback and make their interests known?
  • Which channel do the customers prefer for buying its products or services?

The answers to these questions can generate some really deep insights into what a company’s customers are looking for. Once the business figures this out, it could make changes to its product or service portfolio in addition to revamping its marketing strategy to maximize the success.

Collaborators

A typical company is generally dependent on several third party businesses for supply of raw materials and distribution of its manufactured products or services. It is simply not possible for a company to handle them all, isn’t it? Imagine this for a minute. A company that manufactures high-quality furniture may not always be in a position to source raw materials and distribute the finished furniture to retail outlets throughout the world on its own, right? This is precisely why it is necessary for companies to collaborate with other businesses to source the raw materials they need and to get their products or services down to their consumers.

Here are some of the questions that companies could ask themselves in order to obtain a deeper insight into their collaborators. 

  • Is there more than one supplier? If yes, who are the ones critical to the business process?
  • Is there more than one distributor? 
  • Who takes care of shipping the products to the distributor?
  • What’s the track record of the suppliers, transporters, and distributors that the company partners with? Are they carrying out their tasks without delays?
  • Who takes care of the ecommerce side of the business? Are they proactive?
  • Who takes care of inventory management and warehousing? Are there any delays?
  • Who manages the content? Are they churning out creative pieces regularly to keep consumers engaged?
  • Who runs the social media side of things? Are they doing a good job of making consumers aware of the latest developments?

The simple exercise of answering these questions allows companies to gain a better understanding of the roles of their collaborators. In addition to that, it also helps them keep track of their collaborators and ensure that their performance is on par with the company’s expectations.

Competition

Just like how it is important for a company to understand its own business, it is equally critical for it to understand its competitors’ as well. Getting to know their products or services, the advantages they enjoy, their strengths, and their weaknesses, allows companies to formulate the kind of marketing strategy that’s needed to gain an edge over them.

A company that wishes to understand its competition must start with finding answers to these questions. 

  • Who are its competitors?
  • Are there any viable competitors to its business?
  • What are the products or services that its competitors provide and how do they match up to its own?
  • Are they new to the field or experienced? 
  • How do their products or services differ? Do they offer anything new? 
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What kind of marketing strategy do they use to attract consumers?
  • Are they doing anything that the company in question isn’t? 
  • Is there anything that the company in question does that isn’t done by its competitors?
  • What is the social media presence of its competitors like?

By analyzing the competition through these questions, companies can easily get to know whether or not they’re better equipped than their rivals. That’s not all. They can also identify their own shortcomings and the shortcomings of their competitors, and formulate a marketing plan accordingly.

Climate

Another major external factor - and the last of the Cs - is climate. It is also often referred to as the context. The current political, economical, social, technological, environmental, and legal climate all play a huge role in determining the way a business is run. Changes in any one of these factors, whether material or not, have the capacity to affect a business materially. That said, any change in these factors could also have an industry-wide effect instead of just impacting a particular company.

Answering the following questions can help a company analyze the climate or the context in which it is currently operating.

  • Is there any political uncertainty?     
  • Are there any changes in trade regulations, taxes, or labour laws?
  • Is the economy growing at a good pace?
  • Are the governmental rules and regulations in favour of business growth?
  • Is the interest rate favourable?
  • Has there been any technological breakthrough concerning the business?
  • Are there any new trends or cultural references that can be leveraged to market the business in a better way? 
  • What are the current popular and unpopular opinions?

With this, companies can get a better sense of the current scenario on a macro level. This can, in turn, help them determine the way the market is heading. Since trends and the climate tend to evolve with the years, it is essential for a business to assess and keep up with the evolution.

The 5 Cs: An example

To better understand the concept, let’s take up a company and do a short analysis using the 5 Cs framework. We’ll take Coca Cola as an example.

The 5 Cs

Inference

Company

Coca Cola is a major manufacturer of a wide variety of beverages of multiple flavours. These beverages are very popular amongst almost all the sections of people. Coca Cola has a strong brand equity and is very well-known throughout the world.  

Customer

Customers are very well aware of the products manufactured by Coca Cola and seem to prefer them over its competitors’. Coca cola is primarily sold to its consumers via the retail channel. It doesn’t seem to have much demand on the ecommerce front.  

Collaborators

Since Coca Cola is mostly sold through the retail channel, the company maintains a very close relationship with its distributors, which are plenty and evenly spread out throughout the world. In addition to distributors, Coca Cola also collaborates with a host of other businesses for bottling and sourcing ingredients.    

Competition

The only viable competition to Coca Cola is from Pepsi. However, the competition is very close, cutthroat even, with Pepsi matching Coca Cola’s each and every move with its own. Even a small misstep from Coca Cola could end up favouring Pepsi. So, this is one area that the company needs to keep a close eye on.

Climate

Public perception of Coca Cola has changed vastly throughout the years. With an increasing number of people becoming aware of the high sugar content in Coca Cola’s beverages, a vast majority chose to slowly reduce its consumption of the beverage. However, the company responded to this setback by introducing diet coke and a zero calorie version of its beverage.  

 As you can see from the example above, simply applying the 5 Cs framework on a company can give you some really deep insights into its business operations. In addition to that, it also gives you a sense of how the near future for the company is likely to be, and what it plans to tackle these issues should be like. This can, in turn, help you assess if a company is on the right path. And that makes for a very important input for your investment decisions.

Wrapping up

With this, we’re finally done with this chapter of Smart Money. In the next one, as promised, we’re going to be looking at another framework that many use to analyze companies, although a little differently - the SWOT analysis. Keep reading and keep learning, with Smart Money.

A quick recap

  • Before formulating a marketing strategy, a company has to first get to know the current scenario and the challenges that it needs to overcome. 
  • To do this, most companies utilize a specialized framework known as the 5 Cs of marketing. 
  • The 5 Cs include the company, the customer, collaborators, the competition and the climate. 
  • In order to be able to properly formulate a marketing strategy that produces the intended results, it is essential for a company to first do a self-analysis.
  • Customers are the pillars of a business. Without them, no company can even hope to survive. So, analyzing the pulse of the customers is something that every business needs to do regularly.
  • A typical company is generally dependent on several collaborates and third party businesses for supply of raw materials and distribution of its manufactured products or services. It is necessary to keep track of the collaborators and ensure that their performance is on par with the company’s expectations.    
  • Just like how it is important for a company to understand its own business, it is equally critical for it to understand its competitors’ as well. 
  • Getting to know the competitors’ products or services, the advantages they enjoy, their strengths, and their weaknesses, allows companies to formulate the kind of marketing strategy that’s needed to gain an edge over them. 
  • Another major external factor - and the last of the Cs - is climate. It is also often referred to as the context.
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