Guidelines for Marketing Case Analysis
This is meant to be a guide for analyzing case situations and preparing a written
report of your analysis and conclusions. It is not meant to impose rigid standards
for your assignments but provide help to you in organizing them.
Function of a Case:
Cases serve at least four functions. It is important to understand these in order
to assess their value to you in studying Marketing. In general, cases will:
What is a case?
A case is a statement of facts, opinions, and judgments that are more or less
relevant to an actual business situation in which a problem exists and a decision
must be made. A problem exists when business facts, opinions, and judgments
are in conflict. Most cases are real business situations, that is they are based
upon problems and events that actually took place, although they may be
disguised as to the actual names of the people companies and locations in which
they took place.
Analysis of Cases:
The following are a few general comments relevant to the analysis of a case:
Build familiarity with management, company, and industry problems. ●
Develop confidence in your ability to think like a manager. ●
Develop a growing understanding of the relationships between marketing
management problems and the other functional areas of the business.
Build additional skills in written and oral communication. ●
Read the case carefully and distinguish between what are the facts of the
case and what are the judgments and opinions of the people involved in
the case. You cannot change the facts of the case, but you can read
between the lines and question the judgments and opinions. Sometimes
what is stated as fact is merely an opinion.
Your objective is to learn through exploration, discussion and argument in
as logical a framework as possible. There are no clear-cut solutions to be
found. There is no correct answer! The actions of the managers
described in the case may or may not illustrate the proper handling of
marketing problems, good analysis of relevant data, etc. You must decide
what is good and what is bad. You must support your decisions with
facts and logical argument based on sound marketing and financial
reasoning , where applicable.
Often you will want further information or data in evaluating a case
situation. This lack of complete information mirrors the real life situation
that the managers in the case have faced. One of the key things that a
Discussion of Cases:
If the case is to be discussed in class, be prepared to present and defend your
thinking. If a conflicting viewpoint to yours is being presented by other students
question them and reconcile their thinking with your own. Do not accept another
viewpoint as being correct because it is the one being presented or the one that
has gained popular support unless you have been convinced of the logic behind
it. Consideration of alternative issues will only help all participants in the case
discussion reach a sensible consensus conclusion of a course of action.
Discussion of issues should be conducted in a civil, non confrontational manner.
Treat other discussants with the same respect that you would like to receive. You
are encouraged to disagree, but to do so in an appropriate manner.
How to Perform a Marketing Case Analysis
A marketing case is a description of a business in which some organization is attempting
to create or enhance an exchange relationship with a group of customers. These
descriptions are usually both quantitative and verbal. The description is a collection of
facts, opinions, and other bits of data, some of which are more relevant and reliable than
others. While the description is most always incomplete, you must recommend some
course of action for the organization.
To write a good case analysis, you must first construct a model of the situation (your
definition of the problem). You construct this model from the relevant facts you find in the
case and from the relationships among those facts that you are able to discern. If you
overlook relevant facts and/or fail to recognize some key relationships among the facts,
marketer must learn is how to operate as effectively as possible given less
than perfect information and conditions. One of the decisions that you
may make is that further research to accumulate more information is
needed to address your problem. Now you must ask the question of
whether the expense of gathering that information will be worth the
additional expenditure of time and resources or will you be better off
making a decision based on the information that you have. Gathering
more information is acceptable under the proper circumstances but is
never acceptable as an excuse to avoid grappling with the problem or
adequately analyzing the information that you already have. When you do
recommend further primary research, be sure to specify the information
that you desire, how it can be obtained, and how it will improve your
Be familiar with all of the material that you are given in the case. Reading
the case more than one time will generally help you to digest the details
more thoroughly. Be prepared to make reasonable inferences from the
information contained in the case.
By all means discuss the cases outside of class to get feedback on your
ideas from others in the class. Remember that we are trying to learn this
material by actively presenting interpretations of the situation and
evaluating more than one possible solution.
your model will be inaccurate and the resulting analysis flawed. Following are some
rules that may help you develop a good working model (i.e., define the problem) of the
situation and write an appropriate and compelling analysis.
RULE #1: KNOW THE CASE FACTS. Read the case, as many times as necessary.
Underline, take notes, and do whatever is necessary to register the facts in your mind.
Actively look for relationships (logical or casual connections) among the facts. This is an
active, creative, and effortful process that is essential for producing a good model of the
RULE #2: ACTIVELY LOOK FOR CONNECTIONS AMONG THE FACTS. Discerning
relationships among relevant facts is the key to defining the problem (constructing your
model). There are really only two kinds of marketing problems: 1. occurs when a firm
has been doing something (trying to sell a new product) and the results are
unsatisfactory (nobody buys it); and 2. a firm wants to do something (introduce a new
product) but is uncertain about what needs to be done to get satisfactory results. Despite
the fact that there are only 2 types of marketing problems, they occur in endless variety
and they are usually quite complex. For this reason it is difficult to describe a marketing
problem with precision. However, if your description or model fits reality too poorly, the
course of action you recommend will likely be inappropriate.
RULE #3: DEFINE THE PROBLEM AS PRECISELY AS POSSIBLE. The best way to
define a marketing problem is in terms of controllable marketing variables that are either:
1. incorrectly set or adjusted (first type of marketing problem), or 2. inadequately
specified (second type of marketing problem). Thus, “falling sales” is a poor statement of
the problem. “The product fails to satisfy changed customer needs” is better. The ability
to make precise and appropriate statements of marketing problems is a practiced art,
accomplished with hard work and smarts.
RULE #3A: DEFINE THE PROBLEM AS PRECISELY AS POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF
THE MALADUJUSTMENT OR UNDERSPECIFICATION OF CONTROLLABLE
MARKETING PROBLEMS. Why is this a good idea? Because the marketing manager
takes action by changing or specifying one or more controllable marketing variables. The
manager can do nothing else. Thus, your recommendation to the manager must be
made in terms of controllable variables for it to be of actionable value.
What are controllable variables?
These variables are manipulated in such a way that is intended to adapt successfully to
the conditions imposed by a set of uncontrollable variables that include:
Together, these sets of controllable and uncontrollable variables provide a checklist for
describing the firm’s situation and identifying its marketing problems.
RULE #4: USE THE CONTROLLABLE AND UNCONTROLLABLE MARKETING
VARIABLE CATEGORIES TO HELP ORGANIZE YOUR THINKING ABOUT THE
SITUATION AND THE MARKETING PROBLEMS. If you have defined the marketing
Marketing Mix and in a supporting role●
Macro environmental variables (economic, political, legal, social, cultural and
problem(s) appropriately, the task of proposing a course of action is greatly simplified.
However, in all instances you will probably recognize that several alternatives appear
plausible. Do not exclude plausible alternatives from your analysis so as too severely
limit your choice.
In the end, of course, you must pick a single alternative course of action. In doing this
you must present a rationale that demonstrates convincingly why the alternative you
selected is the superior one. This rationale may involve economics (more profit), risk
(higher probability of success or less financial exposure), strategic considerations (more
compatible with the firm’s image or less vulnerable to competitive reaction) or, as is
usually the case, some combination of all of these.
RULE #5: ATTEMPT TO RECOGNIZE ALL PLAUSIBLE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS.
RULE #6: CHOOSE THE ONE ALTERNATIVE YOU BELIEVE IS BEST AND JUSTIFY
FORMAT FOR WRITTEN CASE ANALYSIS
Sections of the Analysis (in order):
This section should define the problem, state the chosen alternative, and briefly explain
why the chosen alternative is the superior alternative. The Executive Summary should
not contain background material from the case. Write the Executive Summary for your
audience – the executives of the company. They are, of course, well-informed about the
situation. This section will usually be only 2 or 3 paragraphs in length.
Problem Statement and Statement of Alternatives
Adequately and appropriately defining the problem is the key to the case analysis. A
problem definition should be framed as a decision to be made. Therefore, “sales have
fallen off” is not a properly defined problem. The problem should not be defined so
narrowly that good alternative courses of action are not considered. Therefore, “should
we increase advertising” is too narrowly defined to result in a thoughtfully considered
decision. The problem definition should contain three key elements: decision objectives;
success measures; and decision constraints. For example: how can we maintain our
quality brand image (objective); and regain our lost market share (success measure);
given limited funds for advertising and sales promotion (constraint)?
This section should identify the alternative courses of action to be investigated. This
section should also list the major dimensions, or states of nature in a decision theory
framework, of the decision (i.e., those factors on which the choice of an alternative will
largely depend). These states of nature are uncertain and, for the most part, are
uncontrollable: competitor actions, consumer needs and response, and turns in the
economy are examples. The potential payoff of any alternative depends on the “true”
state of nature. This section will most likely be about 1 page in length.
Analysis of Alternatives
This section may contain qualitative as well as quantitative analyses. In a decision
Analysis of Alternatives●
theory sense, this section seeks to calculate the expected payoff of each alternative.
Therefore, you must sift through the case information to find those pieces of information
relevant to the decision to be made. Here, you are really constructing the states of
nature, estimating probabilities of the state of nature, determining cell payoffs, and
calculating the expected values of each alternative. It is proper to place actual
calculation, exhibits, etc. in the appendices and simply refer to your findings in the body
of the paper. This section will ultimately identify the chosen alternative strategy or course
of action. This section will normally be 2 to 3 pages in length.
Once the alternative strategy is selected, you must develop a plan for its implementation.
Basically, this involves specifying the marketing mix to be employed. This
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