Scuba diving has transformed into becoming one of the most sought after marine recreation sport and also the fastest growing sports activity. Scuba Diving is best classified as a subcategory of sports tourism. Around the mid- twentieth century or so, scuba diving was an activity which the military forces alone pursued and also a few specialised people who did it for the sake of spear fishing and treasure raiding. Today, there are many millions of people globally, who are qualified divers and take part in diving on a regular basis.
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Typically, divers were noted to be people with good educational background, financial security, and also mostly males. Most of the divers are single. However, this trend of single men pursuing diving is slowly changing, as more and more couples who are showing more interest in diving these days and moreover, it was also noted that such couples coming for diving come from a combined household income of more than 40, 000 pounds. There has not been much change in the age and gender profile of divers, at least in the recent past, despite there being growing number of female divers showing interest in this sport.
In case of divers at PADI, the split between male and female divers is roughly 65% and 35% respectively and the highest age range is between 25 – 29 years of age bracket. According to research done by Sport Diver, it was confirmed by readers that the statistic with 34% of their readers between the age group of 25 and 34 followed by another large group of readers (34%) who were aged between 35 and 44. The sex of the readers is also similar, with 76% male and 24% female. Elderly people are also showing increased interest in this sport off late. This growing interest that is being shown by elderly people is largely because of the radical developments and improvements in the diving equipment and technology advancement. Reports indicate that close to 10% of elderly people constitutes the adventure tourism segment today.
Scuba diving is essentially an all year round sporting activity and this activity takes place in many global destinations. A few prominent global locations where scuba diving takes place are Fuji, The Red Sea, Bahamas, Hawaii, Caribbean, The Great Barrier Reef, US Virgin Islands, Caymans, Jamaica, Cape Town, British Virgin Islands, Tanzania, and Thailand among others. In countries like Dubai, there are artificial reefs that have been created in order to stimulate a few of these renowned dive locations, thereby enabling tourists to dive directly from their hotel beaches.
Aqua Diving Inc. plans to exploit the nature of the diving business to the fullest to deliver the highest possible shareholder value to all its shareholders. One of the important aspects to run a successful business enterprise is to ensure constant flow of revenues and operational breakeven at the earliest possible after the inception of business. Founder members of any organization try to achieve this at the earliest. The easiest way is to achieve this is to spread as wide as possible and target larger segments of target population and this is the essential point of Aqua Diving Inc. business plan.
Scuba Diving is even done in less significant locations like rivers, caves, and lakes, among others. For divers of UK, approximately 85% of them tend to dive out of the country, according to the research done by Sports Diver’s magazine among their readers. PADI is the principal diving establishment and about 4700 dive centres and resorts are spread across 175 different nations and this indicates the existence of numerous and diverse dive locations for divers globally.
For most divers, there are a few features which are of more interest and the ones they keenly would like to explore. A few among such interests include wreckages of sunken “ships, coral reefs, caves, ‘walls’, ‘blue holes’, ‘sleeping sharks’ and marine life (Smith, May, 2005).” For divers with more experience, these features and specific categories of dives are, time and again, of specific interest and they travel extensively to discover and explore such special and specific sights and in the process, use specific techniques of diving.
From a survey that was conducted among 1628 readers of the Sports Diver magazine, it was discovered that approximately 73% showed special interest in environmental issues while just 25% among them got involved in any sort of ecological initiatives and merely 20% were members of any particular environmental organisation (Smith, May, 2005). Nitrox-Diving and Wreck-diving are most popular among the divers who are PADI qualified, like in the case of technical diving. Yet, all these forms of diving are categorized as niche activities, when compared to mainstream diving. The most attracting thing for divers would be dive locations like the Great Barrier Reef that has unique features, or renowned and well-preserved wreckage when compared to other normal dive locations. Also, companies can put up a hefty price tag, if they can take the divers to such locations. Typically, divers happily spend anywhere between 500 to 2500 pounds on diving holidays and the more keener lot do not hesitate to spend even 3500 pounds on a few specific diving holidays.
Consumers identify a brand’s distinctive capabilities based on their perceptions that have themselves been created by the marketers over a period of time. A genuine brand is “the internalized sum of all the impressions received by the customers and consumers resulting in a distinctive position in their mind’s eye based on perceived emotional and functional benefits” (Knapp, 1998).
A brand, in general, conveys certain aspects like attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user each one of which are discussed below.
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User: Brands clearly state their user segments. Duchess is targeted at upper middle class and upper class customers.
Brand Personality can be defined as the immediate “take-away” or response that people have to a brand (Knapp, 1998). Value has been recognized as “the fundamental basis for all marketing activity (Halbrook, 1994)”. Value has also been stated as “a cognitive-based construct which captures any benefit-sacrifice discrepancy in much the same way disconfirmation does for variations between expectations and perceived performance (Spreng, 1997)”. Therefore, it is the outcome of a cognitive assessment procedure. Moreover, it is an affective evaluative reaction.
Customer perceived value in commerce marketplace was defined as “the trade-off between the multiple benefits and sacrifices of a supplier’s offering, as perceived by key decision-makers in the customer’s organization, and taking into consideration the available alternative suppliers’ offerings in a specific use situation” (Ulaga, 2002). That is, there existed three elements in this definition: “(1) the multiple components of value, (2) the subjectivity of value perceptions and (3) the importance of competition (Ulaga, 2002)”.
The concept of a brand can be thought of as a pyramid consisting of different layers of meaning and involvement (dobney.com, 2000).
At its lowest level a brand is simply an identifying mark to distinguish the product from alternatives. Normally, at this simple level, there is an implicit statement of specification. This, if related to the boutique, relating to product legacy and quality, the Tradition section allows the viewer to witness step-by-step video demonstrations of the construction of its equipment and travel gear, complete with a link to an area where the buyer can order customized bags.
At the next level, the brand becomes more than a mark of specification; it becomes a mark of assurance (dobney.com, 2000). The sportswear of boutique is perceived to be highly successful and prestigious. At the next step, the brand provides a mark of association, a badge of a club that the individual wants to be associated with (dobney.com, 2000). Aqua Diving Sports Boutique is a brand that is famous for its Sports gear and wear. If customers increase the association with the brand to a next level, it becomes a point of emotional involvement (dobney.com, 2000).
The 4Ps are essentially called as the Marketing Mix. They form an integral part of marketing principles because they are in fact, the controlling variables of the business (Merrihue, 2004). The Marketing Mix is a tool that helps the organization to design a package. The Marketing Mix, apart from just fulfilling the requirements of the customers, also additionally maximizes the performance of the company. The 4Ps are also used to describe the marketing strategy. The 4 variables of the Marketing Mix are the Product, Price, Place and Promotion, which are collectively utilized in an optimal way in order to spawn the best possible response in the target market segments (NetMBA, 2002). The variables of the marketing mix can be changed regularly in order to meet the ever-changing needs of the customer of the target market and numerous other factors of the marketing atmosphere.
This principle may be related to the different products or product lines and/or services. The strategy involved in this principle of marketing is that for the success of any kind of product or a service, the firm offering the product or service should ensure that there is a clear and distinct value to the buyer of the product or service. The factors which judge the success of the product or service are the demand and supply. As already stated, the Aqua Diving Sports Shop store would host a wide variety of sports gear and wear from various luxury brands in the industry.
This particular aspect of the marketing mix is related to the channels of distribution. The strategy involved here is very simple. Create as much awareness as possible about the new products. The only way to do this is to develop healthy relations with the channels of distribution. Unless and until the customers are aware of the existence of the product, there is no possibility of them buying the same. As far as the Shop is concerned, the store is an exclusive store for Sportswear and gear.
The setting up of price for a particular product depends of the value addition to the product and also the innovation involved. Prices are something which explains the degree of innovation in the product. The Shop is a premium store of sportswear and gear aimed at a selected class of customers who have a passion to sportswear.
Promotion means making the product reach the customer or simply communicating the product or service to the customer. The strategy involved here is to make use of the media to the maximum in order to reach the customers and tell them about the product. A variety of promotional tools have been used and the same have been discussed in details in the later parts of this paper.
The three major benefits of conducting an external analysis are:
The external environment consists of many factors that govern the product’s sale. These factors are uncontrollable by nature. Some of the factors such as competition and political, economic, legal, government rules and regulations, etc. influence the firm’s choice of direction and action and also affect the internal environment of the organization. The major challenges that are faced when conducting an external analysis are that the socio-cultural, technological and legal factors and finally the competition in the market do not remain the same and hence the analysis should be conducted on a timely and well-planned manner in order achieve better strategic advantages. In the present competitive scenario, environmental stability is not guaranteed and this becomes a major challenge for organizations while carrying out external analysis as changes in the environment are rapidly taking place in the environment due to various usually uncontrollable factors. Every firm should ponder these factors and formulate its strategies through effective planning. However, the company has to face many constraints imposed by the government and other legal bodies. Effective environment planning is therefore a difficult task for organizations.
The two perspectives of external environment analysis are – 1) the environment as a source of information, & 2) the environment as a source of resource (Gerry Jhonson, 2008). When the environment is viewed as a source of information, it can be stated that the amount of uncertainty differs among various environments and if the same is reduced, it serves as a means of obtaining information. In the same way, when the environment is viewed as a source of resource either scarce or valued resources, it leads to organizations depending on the environment to make use of these resources and the same are sought by various competing organizations (Baylis, 2007). There are basically two types of environment in which a firm operates in – they are the remote environment and the other is the planning environment. The former consists of a set of forces that originate beyond a firm’s operating situation and comprise political, economic, social, technological and industrial forces which create a plethora of opportunities upon which a firm can cash in upon. In the same way, the latter consists of customers, creditors, suppliers, labor markets and competitors.
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As the world rises again from the ashes of the latest economic crisis, people have learned to safeguard themselves from going through traumatic experience again by adopting various economic safety measures. But sports especially in the upper echelons of the society remains as it is and the need was not observed to be tapering even during the worst of times. What is interesting is that the best of brands targeting the upper class, offering more than the average type of products, specifically the luxury and the premium range did not actually suffer much. This observation is interesting especially for the Sports shop that offers the best scuba diving gear.
An analysis of the unemployment rates indicates that they have stabilized and are bound to look southward in the next three quarters starting January 2010. With higher rate of employment which indirectly translates to higher income levels and higher disposable incomes, people are likely to look at acquiring assets that will stand them good in long and higher social stead. High among the list would be personal and sports accessories.
All the macroeconomic factors point to a higher stimulus for growth in sports segment of society and living.
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