CASS BUSINESS SCHOOL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Overview of the Markstrat World ...........................................................................................................1
Objectives and Performance..................................................................................................................2
The Learning Process and the Markstrat Simulation...........................................................................3
THE MARKETS ......................................................................................................... 4
GETTING STARTED ................................................................................................. 7
Simulation process .................................................................................................................................7
Markstrat Main Window ..........................................................................................................................7
Files and Interfacing with Instructor......................................................................................................8
DECISIONS MODULE............................................................................................. 10
Errors & Warnings.................................................................................................................................10
BRAND DECISIONS - PRODUCTION, PRICE AND ADVERTISING ..................... 15
Production specification ......................................................................................................................15
SALES FORCE AND DISTRIBUTION .................................................................... 18
REPORT AND ANALYSIS MODULES ................................................................... 19
Report Module .......................................................................................................................................19
Industry Newsletter ...............................................................................................................................21
Analysis Module ....................................................................................................................................21
MARKET RESEARCH............................................................................................. 22
Ordering Market Research Studies......................................................................................................22
Summary of Market Research Studies ................................................................................................22
POSITIONING ......................................................................................................... 24
Consumers' perception of brands .......................................................................................................24
Semantic Scales ....................................................................................................................................25
Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) ........................................................................................................27
Repositioning Strategies ......................................................................................................................31
Positioning through advertising ..........................................................................................................31
Positioning through research & development....................................................................................32
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS.................................................... 33
Creating a New R&D Project ................................................................................................................33
Completing an On-going R&D Project.................................................................................................35
Reintroducing a Suspended R&D Project...........................................................................................36
Deleting or Shelving an R&D Project...................................................................................................36
Utilisation of completed R&D projects ................................................................................................36
BRAND PORTFOLIO .............................................................................................. 37
New brand introduction ........................................................................................................................37
Brand withdrawal ..................................................................................................................................38
COST REDUCTION VERSUS EXPERIENCE CURVE............................................ 39
FINANCE ................................................................................................................. 40
APPENDIX 1 INSTALLING MARKSTRAT TEAM SOFTWARE ............................. 41
APPENDIX 2 TIMETABLE ...................................................................................... 44
APPENDIX 3 PRACTICE FILE................................................................................ 45
APPENDIX 4 PROCEDURE FOR SUBMITTING DECISIONS ............................... 46
You have been recruited as Marketing Manager for a division of a large diversified firm. You come with
your own team from a different industry and have no experience of the Markstrat world. You will be facing
several other firms in a highly competitive environment, marketing two types of durable goods to consumers.
Marketing strategy is your main area of responsibility, but you will also be concerned with financial matters,
production planning, and R&D. You will have to integrate these various dimensions of business strategy into
a long-term perspective in order to gain an edge on competition.
The simulation is played on computers with the Markstrat software installed. This software is installed on
computers in the PC labs and can also be downloaded for free from the Markstrat website
(http://www.markstrat.com/). It is advised that you all thoroughly familiarize yourselves with the Markstrat
software prior to the simulation exercise. There is a “Practice” industry supplied with the software for this
purpose. Throughout this manual sample tables are included from this practice industry. Your company will
not necessarily be in the same position as the company in this practice industry.
Your team will make decisions every week, for the first 4 weeks and every 3 days for the last 2 weeks. Each
decision represents a year. See Appendix 2 for details of the timetable for the simulation. Each group will be
in an industry competing against 3 or 4 other groups (multiple simulations – or industries – will be running at
the same time).
This manual provides all the basic information needed to understand and manage the Markstrat simulation.
For a full overview of instructions you may want to obtain a copy of the official Markstrat manual, but this is
not essential (no more than one copy per team will be needed):
Jean-Claude Larreche, Hubert Gatignon (1998) MARKSTRAT3: The Strategic Marketing Simulation with
Student Software, 3e, Thomson publishing.
The manuals can be ordered directly from Thomson publishing (http://www.itpe.com/). A small number of
these manuals will be available in the library.
Overview of the Markstrat World
The Markstrat simulation does not claim to accurately represent a particular industry or market. It relates to
an artificial community of approximately 250 million inhabitants whose monetary unit is the Markstrat
Dollar, symbolized by $. Both inflation and GNP growth are fairly stable and no major political, social or
economic event is anticipated in the near future. This Markstrat world behaves globally like most markets,
and all general marketing principles accumulated either through experience or from marketing textbooks are
relevant. However, Markstrat, like any specific country, market or industry, also has its own peculiarities.
The Markstrat world consists of a handful of competing companies that manufacture and market consumer
durable goods comparable to electronic entertainment products. At the beginning, each firm markets two
brands that can be modified or withdrawn from the market. Each firm can also introduce new brands as the
simulation evolves. Each firm starts in different initial situation in terms of many criteria, including market
share, customer awareness levels, distribution coverage and profitability. The marketing strategy of each firm
should consequently be adapted to its particular situation within the industry.
In spite of these differences in the characteristics, no firm has a systematic advantage over the others. Each
company has an equal opportunity to develop an appropriate strategy, which, although different for each
competitor, will lead to successful performance. Each firm will have the opportunity to design, develop and
introduce new products or upgrade existing ones. All R&D departments have the same capabilities to
develop new products. Similarly, all sales forces are equally qualified to handle distributor relationships.
Your company manufactures and markets consumer durable goods comparable to electronic entertainment
products, known as Sonites. The Sonite market has grown quite consistently over the past 20 years. The
products have increasingly appealed to a wider audience, and the market has recently achieved an even
greater rate of growth. It is now a well structured market.
It is also widely accepted in the industry that a new market is likely to emerge for a second product type, the
Vodite. The idea of the product comes from a basic technological breakthrough made in the space industry
under government contracts. Your company and your competitors in Markstrat are the most likely suppliers
of Vodites because of their technological and marketing expertise.
The Sonite and Vodite markets will be completely independent in terms of demand, technology and
manufacturing. They are not complementary in any way and there will not be any substitution from one to
Each firm currently distributes two Sonite brands. All initial brands, which are available at the start of the
simulation, along with their characteristics will be listed in your first Newsletter.
Objectives and Performance
The Marketing department for which you and your team will be responsible is a profit centre responsible for
the design and implementation of marketing strategy as well as for marketing operations. In this privileged
situation, the marketing department is responsible for the overall orientation of the company to its markets
and it must interact with other departments of the firm.
The performance of the marketing department as a profit center is measured by the net contribution it
generates, as well as its market share position and ability to grow and maintain brand equity. At the end of
the day, the best measure of your company's performance will be its Share Price Index. Movements in your
SPI will be affected by a number of factors, notably: your company's market share, sales growth, net
contribution, cumulative net contribution and your investments in R&D.
The overall objective of the simulation is to maximise your SPI and your final mark will be based on this.
However your marks will be adjusted to take into account the relative performance of the teams competing in
your industry and the logic of the decisions you made over the simulation. This simulation will be worth
20% of the total coursework marks for the Marketing course.
During this exercise you will be responsible for formulating and implementing the long-term marketing
strategy of your division. You will have to target select segments and position your products in a highly
competitive market. Specific decisions need to be taken on:
• Production planning: You set a planned production level for each brand, which is adhered to by
manufacturing with a degree of flexibility.
• Inventory disposal: You may decide to reduce your inventory by selling all or part to a trading company
at a given percentage of the transfer cost (usually between 50 and 90%)
• Pricing: You set the recommended retail price for each marketed brand
• Mass communication: You determine expenditure for each brand on two dimensions:
o Quantity - purchase of media space & time
o Quality - advertising research for copy tests, media selection, and creative work performed by
• Targeted segments: You specify which segments should be targeted by your advertising. Target
selection only affects the media vehicle selected to communicate the message, but does not impact the
• Perceptual objectives: You determine the perceptual "message" that is to be conveyed (dimensions and
• Sales force: You determine the number of salespeople and structure them by distribution channel and
instruct your sales force on how to allocate their efforts across the various brands that they carry
• Market research: You can purchase any number from a range of different studies each year
• R&D projects: You can commission R&D projects to develop new products or to modify existing
products, and determine how much to spend on R&D each period.
During the course of the simulation, companies may introduce new Sonite or Vodite brands, and reposition
or withdraw existing ones. The maximum number of brands marketed by a company in a given period is
limited to five brands per market (Sonite or Vodite). This constraint makes it extremly important to find
optimal segmentation and positioning strategies. The positioning and repositioning of brands with respect to
the specific needs of various consumer segments is a major aspect of the Markstrat companies' marketing
The strategic issues surrounding market segmentation and product positioning can be summarized in three
• Which segment do we want to target?
• How do we design the product appropriate for this segment and position it effectively?
• As the environment changes, how should we reposition our existing brands?
Some Pitfalls to Avoid
Before making dramatic decisions, try to get a good feeling for the behavior of the market. Do not jump to
the first explanation, or conclusion, that you may have reached when faced with a problem: it may be
incomplete. Analysis of key information from market research studies, of your own situation and of past
competitive behavior should help you reach more robust decisions.
During the simulation run, default decisions are produced automatically for each team. These decisions are
the same as the decisions of the previous period, with the following modifications:
Brand portfolio no modification;
o production plan no modification;
o inventory selling set to 0;
o pricing no modification;
o advertising no modification;
o perceptual objectives set to no objectives;
Sales Force & Distribution
o number of salespeople no modification;
o % effort no modification;
Market research studies no modification;
Research & development
o completed projects removed from decisions;
o uncompleted projects base cost and budget set as specified in company report to
Default decisions are convenient because it is easier to modify existing decisions than starting from scratch
each period. However, default decisions are far from optimal.
The Learning Process and the Markstrat Simulation
The Markstrat simulation has proven its effectiveness as a learning tool. This is in particular due to the
Extensive treatment of market competition - Most simulations concentrate on the internal accounting-
finance-manufacturing aspects of a firm and have a very simplistic representation of market competition.
This is indeed the most difficult component to model, but also the most important one.
Strategic perspective - In the Markstrat simulation, learning of strategic concepts prevails over 'gaming'
behaviour. It becomes clear that tactical decisions such as pricing, distribution, selling or communications
cannot be effective without first defining explicit portfolio, market segmentation, and brand positioning
strategies. This is reinforced by the long term perspective provided by the simulation as it usually runs over
periods of six to twelve simulated years.
Solid theoretical foundations - The Markstrat model incorporates theories of market and competitive
behaviour which have been tested empirically in a variety of situations.
There are in essence two markets. The Sonite market and the Vodite market. However they are both served
by the same distribution channel. Information concerning the macro-economic environment (inflation rate,
growth in GNP, etc.) will be available in the Newsletter and updated each period.
The Sonite is the only product type currently marketed by your company. Sonite brands are differentiated
mainly in terms of five physical characteristics as well as base cost. Only these principal characteristics will
be considered in the course of the simulation. They are:
Characteristics Feasible range
1. Weight (Kg) 10-20
2. Design (index) 3-10
3. Volume (dm ³) 20-100
4. Maximum frequency (KHz) 5-50
5. Power (W) 5-100
6. Base cost ($) minimum 10
(for a production batch of 100,000 units)
Note that design is not related to the product’s aesthetics but to the type of raw material and components
used (and a higher index does not necessarily mean it is better). The base cost is the cost at which each unit
will be produced based on an initial production batch of 100,000 units. The base cost is decided jointly by
the marketing department – which is mainly concerned by margin and profitability - and by the R&D
department – which is mainly concerned with product feasibility.
It is generally thought that the Markstrat firms will modify their brands and introduce new ones in the
coming years in order to better meet the needs of the market segments. These changes will represent
variations on the six main characteristics described above. Brand improvements and new brand introductions
naturally depend upon the willingness and ability of the firms to launch and complete R&D projects.
In doing the R&D, the values of the physical characteristics should be specified in whole numbers of the
relevant units, and within the feasible technical range for each dimension.
Market segments (Sonites)
The target markets in Markstrat are households and individuals over 18 years of age. The opinion of experts,
confirmed by several studies undertaken by the firms, is that one can distinguish five segments in the Sonite
market with different characteristics and significantly different purchasing behaviour:
Buffs (Bu) - People who are enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the products and the different
characteristics of existing brands. Buffs were probably among the first to use Sonite products. They demand
high-performance products, primarily concerned with quality and technical features. They are less
concerned by the convenience of the products. However, they are quite price-sensitive, since they use do not
necessarily have high incomes.
Singles (Si) - People in this segment live alone. Although they are less technically competent than Buffs,
they demand good performance and convenience from a product that they may use more than the average
consumer. Like buffs, they use Sonite for personal purposes and are quite price-sensitive
Professionals (Pr) - Persons who have a higher level of education and high incomes. They tend to be more
independent in their occupation and to engage in many social activities. Their purchase of the product is
partially motivated by social status needs. They may use Sonites for both personal and professional needs
and hence are looking for high quality, high-performance and easy-to-use products. They can afford
expensive products and often view price as a indication of quality.
High earners (Hi) - People who have high incomes but do not possess the higher level of education or
occupational independence of the individuals in the Professionals segment. Studies show that they usually
buy fairly expensive products which they can afford. Although they tend to use their Sonites less than the
average consumer, they demand performance and convenience.
Others (Ot) - Consumers who do not belong to any of the above groups. This segment represents the largest
proportion of the population. Although this segment is composed of several sub-groups, most customers
have similar needs. In the past it has known a significantly lower penetration of Sonite products than other
segments. However, in the future its growth rate could exceed forecasts. They are looking for cheap, low-
performance products with average convenience.
The overall Sonite market growth has seen relatively high growth over the last three years. However, the five
segments are at different stages in their development and are growing at different rates. Current segment
sizes and growth trends will be communicated to you when you take up your new job. Short-term and long-
term forecasted growth rates will be available in the Market Research Studies.
Brand name conventions
Each brand name is made up of four characters.
• The first letter being an 'S' for a Sonite, or a 'V' for a Vodite.
• The second letter of the brand name identifies the company marketing the brand (A, E, I, ...).
• The last two characters (letters or numbers) are freely chosen by each firm to generate different brand
For instance, brands SIBI and SIRO would be Sonites belonging to company I, and brand VAIN would be a
Vodite marketed by company A.
All new brands should follow these conventions. All brands should have different names, but the selected
name has no influence on the market response to the brand.
Although the scientific bases are known and available, substantial R&D efforts are likely to be required for
the development of a Vodite product. Recent estimations anticipate investments of about $10m may be
required for firms to develop their first Vodite product. From preliminary information available, the main
physical characteristics of a Vodite will be:
Characteristics Feasible range
1. Autonomy (m) 5-100
2. Maximum frequency (KHz) 5-20
3. Diameter (mm) 10-100
4. Design (index) 3-10
5. Weight (Kg) 10-100
6. Base cost ($) minimum 10
(for a production batch of 100,000 units)
If developed, Vodites would satisfy a totally different need to that of Sonites, and there would be no
interaction between the two types of products at the sales level. There is little reliable information today
about the potential size of the Vodite market. Experts tend to agree, however, that it could be quite attractive
if the right products were made available at the right price.
Market segments (Vodites)
While potential consumers for Vodites are the same individuals who buy Sonites, a different segmentation
scheme is likely to be valid for Vodites. Analysts believe that it will be most effective to consider three
segments for this new technology:
Innovators (In) - People in this segment tend to be adventurous, more cosmopolitan in their social
relationships, and wealthier than those who adopt later. They are willing to try new ideas at some risk. These
will be the first users of Vodite products. Although this segment will probably be the largest one in the early
days, it represents only a small percentage of the total.
Early adopters (Ad) - They usually adopt new ideas early but carefully. They are among the most influential
people in their communities. They represent a critical group in the adoption process, as this group is usually
much larger than the previous one. They tend to be opinion leaders and helpful in 'advertising' the new
product to other potential buyers.
Followers (Fo) - These people represent the bulk of customers. They adopt an innovation only after a large
number of people have tried it, and are thus often highly influenced by early adopters. Their income level is
usually below average.
All products may be distributed through three distribution channels, each of which is visited by the supplier's
Specialty stores - They make an important proportion of their sales from Sonite-type products and provide
specialised services. These stores usually carry a broad product line for each category, including the most
expensive and/or high performance products. Because of their high level of technological expertise, specialty
stores are likely to be the preferred distribution channel for Vodite products.
Department stores -These handle a wide variety of merchandise and may have a department carrying
Sonites. They provide extensive customer service, but their technological expertise is lower than that of
specialty stores. Department stores are often organized in chains and have a high degree of power in
negotiating margins with manufacturers.
Mass Merchandisers - These carry Sonites only as one of the many product categories they distribute.
These stores operate on a low-price, high-volume basis. As a consequence they offer a low level of service
and each product line is usually restricted to a few units. They often distribute the cheaper, low-performance
products. Their lack of technical expertise may well prevent them from distributing Vodites in the early
It is estimated that there are at the outset some 30,000 specialty stores, 7,000 department stores belonging to
15 different chains, and 10,000 mass merchandisers belonging to 8 different chains, all of which can
potentially distribute the various Sonite and Vodite brands.
Differences between margins obtained by the stores in each of the three channels are mainly due to
differences in the service level and the quantities purchased. These margins, expressed as a percentage of
their retail price, are approximately constant across brands for a given channel type. Their values are:
40% for specialty stores
30% for department stores
30% for mass merchandisers.
At the beginning of the simulation your team is assigned one of the Markstrat firms and will receive your
Company Report and Industry Newsletter representing the situation of your company and the market you are
active in, at the time you are taking over the firm's marketing management. You are able, from the company
report information and the information in this document, to evaluate the relative market strength of your firm
compared to your competition. Even though you might have a fair amount of information, there are still
many uncertainties, which will decrease when you acquire more specific market research data and when you
make the decisions and your competitors make their moves. Consequently, you should not take inconsiderate
risks for your first decision.
Your decisions will then be submitted, together with the decisions of your competitors, to the Markstrat3
software model which will generate the results of that period. You will receive these results on diskette and
print-outs of the following documents:
The Company Report: summary of the firm decisions, messages, results of the firm overall as well as by
product category (Sonite and Vodite markets) for the period, results for each brand marketed by the firm,
feedback from the R&D department, and cumulative results since the beginning of the simulation.
The Newsletter: contains general market information
Market Research Studies: market research information bought from outside marketing service firms.
Each of these modules can be accessed in the software via the menu buttons found on the module bar of the
main screen of the Markstrat3 software.
After analysing this new set of information, the team will check objectives and decide to follow or adapt the
strategy. You will then make decisions for the next period and follow this cycle of decisions and results for
eight simulated years.
For your first decision, you should concentrate on the management of your two existing brands. In the
process of reaching your decisions for that first period, you should analyse the actions of your firm's previous
management team. It is not wise at this stage to drastically change their advertising, pricing, sales force, and
production policies since you probably cannot yet make a sound decision about the direction and the degree
of the change. On the other hand, you may consider purchasing market research studies, which will be made
available for your next set of decisions.
During the first set of decisions, it is essential that you rapidly develop good working relationships in your
group. It is important that each member of your group should be involved in the discussion of all issues and
should develop a grasp of the total situation. Therefore, it is important to avoid the natural tendency for each
member to concentrate in his or her area of expertise.
Later in the simulation - when everybody has a common understanding of the strategic issues and the
management of the firm becomes more complex in terms of the number of brands, the R&D interface, the
market developments, and the intensity of competition - some specific problem areas can be delegated to
individuals. In this way, the group should learn to work efficiently, and each of its members should benefit
equally from the Markstrat experience.
The software distributed comes with a PRACTICE industry to help you familiarize yourselves with the
software and the decisions to be taken (see Appendix 3).
Markstrat Main Window
The Markstrat main window is partially displayed below (Figure 1). It is always located at the top of the
screen and is always as wide as possible. Its caption shows the Markstrat version number and the name of the
currently opened industry.
The six large buttons of the top bar give access to the six main modules. When you click on one of these
buttons, the associated module window pops up to give you access to the charts, graphs or dialog boxes
available in this module
Figure 1 Markstrat Main Screen (Partial)
The red button on the upper right top row is the Exit button. Clicking on this button will close Markstrat.
Note that your decisions are automatically saved on the hard disk each time you make a modification, so you
can close Markstrat at any time without the risk of losing your data. The smaller buttons at the bottom of the
window are grouped in two categories: selector buttons and tool buttons. The selector buttons allow you to
specify which data you want examine. The tool buttons give you access to useful features such as Copy to
clipboard, Print facility, Configuration or On-line help.
Use this module to make decisions for next period. Decisions are grouped in five categories: Brand Portfolio,
Brand Decisions (Production, Price and Advertising), Sales Force & Distribution, Market Research Studies
and Research & Development.
NB. As decisions for Period 1 are limited in scope, the 'Brand Portfolio' and 'Research and Development'
buttons have not been released at this stage and remain grey to indicate that you cannot access them.
This module provides confidential information on your company: Company Results, Brand Results, R&D
projects, Cumulative Results, and a recap of Past decisions.
This module provides you with publicly held information on this industry: Stock Market, Economic
Variables, and Market Information.
Market Studies module
This module provides you with detailed information on a given market in terms of : Brand Awareness,
Purchase Intentions, Segment Analysis, Brand Perceptions, etc. This data is not free and must be ordered as
part of your decisions, one year in advance.
This module uses the information provided by the other modules to produce and display charts and graphs. It
also provides a number of analysis tools such as a Product Portfolio Matrix.
This module serves as the interface between your company and your instructor.
Files and Interfacing with Instructor
The Interface module serves as the link between you and your instructor. It contains two pull-down menus;
File, to handle data files and Finances, to request loans and/or budget changes.
You must open your Markstrat industry to browse the simulation results or to make your decisions. To open
an industry, select File/Open industry in the Interface module. The dialog box showing a list of available
industries and team details pops up.
An industry is a set of three files containing the cumulative results of the simulation from period 0 to the last
period, in addition to the default team decisions for next period. For instance, for industry PRACTICE and
team E, the three files are:
• PRACTICE.MTE: simulation results and team decisions for next period;
• PRACTICE.MRE: miscellaneous information (current period, team name and password, ...);
• PRACTICE.REC: license information (university name and address, professor name, type and date of
The industries available in your private directory are listed in the box on the left. Select the one you want to
open and check the information that appears in the right-hand fields: team initial, industry name and current
decision period. Enter your password if required and finally click on Open industry.
If no industry is listed when the dialog box pops up, it probably means that you have not transferred the
industry from the instructor.
You may need to stop working on Markstrat in the middle of a decision round. In this case, simply save your
industry by selecting File/Save and close industry in the Interface module. To work on your industry later,
select File/Open industry in the same menu.
To copy an industry file from one computer to another, use the Save and backup industry and Restore
Finally, team industry files can be protected by passwords. Select File/Change industry password to set or
change your own password.
Transfers to/from Instructor
During the course of the simulation, you will have to transfer your industry files several times to and from
Transfers Decisions to Instructor
Decisions must be transferred to your instructor at the end of each decision round so that he/she can run the
simulation and produce the results for the current period.
Select File/Transfer decisions to instructor in the Interface module. A confirmation message pops up. If you
click on Yes, your decisions will be transferred in the Instructor/Team exchange directory. You will be
invited to insert your team diskette into the disk drive, assuming that the exchange directory is set to A: or B.
Hand this disk to your instructor.
Note that you can transfer your decisions several times during the same decision round. Each time, the newer
version of your decisions will replace the older one in the exchange directory.
Transfer Results from Instructor
Once the simulation runs and produces results for the following period, data files must be transferred from
your instructor to each team. This is necessary in order to update your industry with the latest version of the
To transfer an industry, place your floppy disk in the drive, select File/Transfer Results and Default
Decisions from Instructor in the Interface module. The dialog box showing your team details and the
currently active industry will pop up.
The industries available in your exchange directory are listed in the left-hand side of the dialog box. Select
the one you want to transfer and check the information that appears in the right-hand fields: team initial,
industry name and current decision period. Enter your password if required and finally click on Transfer
results & default decisions and open industry.
If no industry is listed when the dialog box pops up, it probably means that your configuration is incorrect.
Figure 2 Decision Module
The Decisions module is used to make all the required decisions during the Markstrat simulation. The
Decision module is made up of five sub-modules:
- Brand Portfolio.
- Brand decisions: Production, Price and Advertising.
- Sales Force and Distribution.
- Market Research Studies.
- Research and Development.
Each of these sub-modules is discussed in a separate section of the manual.
The Decision module has 4 additional parts that allow to:
• locate errors and warnings in your decisions;
• look at a summary of the decisions made;
• check your marketing expenditures against your allocated budget;
• analyze your marketing plan, i.e. make sales forecast and estimate your next period contribution
based on your current decisions.
NB. Click on the S or V buttons at the top left-hand corner to choose either the Sonite or the Vodite market.
Errors & Warnings
A yellow or red message in the middle of the Decisions module window may indicate that Markstrat has
discovered a few errors and/or warnings while analyzing your decisions. Do not pay too much attention to
these messages if you are just beginning to make your decisions; they will probably be cleared after your
decisions are finalized.
If the messages are still there at the end of the decision round, it is a good idea to click on the Errors &
Warnings button. A dialog box pops up with the list of errors and warnings in the top middle box.
To get more detail on the particular error or warning, click on a given message in this box: a picture is
displayed in the top left box and an explanation message is given in the bottom box.
• A yellow exclamation point indicates a warning. Most warnings should be resolved, but this is not
• A red hand indicates an error. All errors must be fixed before transferring your decisions to the
A frequent error is "Budget limit exceeded". Click on the Budget button to find out how you can reduce your
marketing expenditures ... or check with your instructor if you can negotiate a loan or a budget increase!
The 'Summary' button gives access to five tables which provide a detailed description of all decisions. Each
of these tables can be reviewed by clicking on the corresponding tab at the bottom of the screen.
The Marketing department of each firm is allocated a budget for the following period to cover advertising,
sales force, research & development, and market research expenditures. You will have to work within this
given budget! Click on the Budget button at the bottom of the Decisions module window to obtain a
summary of your current expenditures.
The Overall Budget Section presents expenditures by market. The budget shows the funds available to spend
in the next year. If total spending exceeds the allocated budget for a period, expenses will be automatically
cut, starting with advertising expenditures.
• A red negative number indicates that you have overspent your marketing budget.
• A purple positive number is a good sign; you have some money left over!
The allocation of advertising and sales force expenditure by brand can be found in the Brand Details Section.
The R&D Details section lists the R&D projects requested for the next period with the corresponding
budgets assigned to each of them.
The budget allocated to the Marketing department is linked to the success of the department: it is a straight
40% of the net contribution achieved in the previous period. Above a maximum level, however, resources
are re-allocated to other businesses of the company under a different management organization. A minimum
budget is always provided in case of insufficient performance.
Because of these resource allocation decision rules, a firm may be given a much larger budget than would
really be needed to maximize the firm's performance. In such a situation, the firm should certainly not
automatically spend its entire allocated budget, (especially when you reach the $15M - $20M range). Your
strategy should guide you in deciding whether a given expense is worth making or not. If your objective is to
maximize ROI you should not necessarily spend your entire budget in every situation.
If your spending exceeds your budget use the Brand budget and R&D budget tables to find out how you can
reduce your marketing expenditures. You may also explore the possibility of negotiating a loan or a budget
increase with your instructor!
The Marketing Plan sub-module is a useful tool to check the consistency of decisions and to easily anticipate
their possible financial consequences. It provides, however, no guarantee of achieving the projected results.
The actual brand contribution and company performance statements for the next period may be quite
different from the pro forma projections obtained from the plan!
Many facets of the environment may have changed unexpectedly, including consumer needs or competitive
actions. Other aspects directly controlled by the firm may not have been properly incorporated, or may have
been overlooked. For example, students often overlook the following issues:
• the distribution mix estimates may not have taken into account the fact that the deployment of the firm’s
sales force no longer corresponds to the new shopping trends;
• or the share estimates for a given brand did not anticipate negative consumer reactions to the price
• or the cut in the advertising budget did not have such a negative impact on sales and that, as a result, the
brand has performed better than expected and is out of stock.
The process of planning in MARKSTRAT brings discipline to marketing thinking, action, and learning in at
least three important ways: firstly, by demanding a focus on the tangible results of decisions at the brand
level; secondly by making it easy to check the validity of the overall financial results; and thirdly by
providing support for a post-mortem analysis.
On the first aspect, the marketing plan sub-module helps to focus on the three key elements of market
evolution (segment sizes), brand performance (in shares or volume), and distribution coverage. Having to
submit estimates for these components of the plan should solicit discussion and reflection about the variables
affecting them. By modifying the estimates, it is also relatively convenient to perform sensitivity analyses to
better understand how they affect the brand contribution. Moreover, if the resulting projected brand
contribution appears significantly higher or lower than expected, then the validity of some of the decisions
should be questioned. For instance, observing an abnormally high projected contribution for a given brand
may lead to checking if the share estimate is coherent with the competitive positioning, the retail price, or the
advertising support of the brand. It is easy to switch between the marketing plan sub-module and the other
components of the decision module to adjust either the decisions or the estimates, and reach a situation in
which the firm’s management has confidence.
The module also allows you to easily check on the expected overall financial performance of the firm.
Within the firm’s portfolio, it may be decided to invest heavily in a new brand and to accept a substantially
negative contribution for this brand as long as other products generate sufficient funds to reach financial
objectives. This financial interdependence between brands is sometimes difficult to apprehend but it is easy
to investigate and analyze with the marketing plan sub-module.
Finally, an important role of the marketing plan is to provide a tangible basis to learn over time. The Brand
Contribution and Company Performance statements in the marketing plan are in the same format as in the
company report. This makes it easy to compare between the anticipated projections and the actual results
when they are obtained. A systematic analysis of the sources of variance between the two documents will
help you learning both about the market mechanisms and about the planning process. In the long-term, this
learning dimension is probably the most important contribution of the marketing planning process.
After accessing the marketing plan sub-module by clicking on the corresponding button, five distinct
components appear in the tabs at the bottom of the screen: Segment sizes, Brand shares/sales, Distribution
mix, Brand contribution, and Company performance. Each component of the marketing plan is accessed by
clicking on the corresponding tab. The first three correspond to the different types of estimates that have to
be input into the plan. The last two are a simulation of the simulation based on both the decisions and the
Marketing Plan - Segment Sizes
The first estimates you must provide as inputs to the marketing plan concern the size (in thousands of units)
of each segment. Click on the Segment sizes tab in the Marketing Plan sub-module. The chart at the center of
the screen initially displays each segment’s size last period. The estimates for the variation of the segments’
sizes next period should be entered in one of the two columns on the right-hand side, in thousands of units or
in percentage change. One can shift from the Sonites screen to the Vodites screen with the selector buttons in
the top left-hand corner of the dialog box.
Two automated estimation approaches are available. You can click on the “Same as last period” button to use
segment's size from the previous period, or click on the “As in market forecast study” button to input the
segment size projections from market research. The second alternative is available only if the corresponding
study has been purchased. If this is not the case, the button is grayed. These two automated approaches
provide a basis on which individual adjustments can be made, either in thousands of units or in percentage
Marketing Plan - Brand sales or brand share estimates by segment
One of the most important aspects of marketing planning is the anticipation of the market response to a
specific set of decisions or actions. In this screen, anticipated market reactions must be entered for each
brand in each segment. They can be specified either in terms of brand shares or brand sales by selecting the
appropriate tab button at the bottom of the screen. The numbers for the previous period are displayed for
each brand in each segment as well as for the total market. An estimate for the next period can be entered
either as a target or as a change from the previous period.
Figure 3 Marketing Plan - Estimated Brand Share by Segment
Assuming that brand share inputs are first selected, one easy way to start is to use the same brand shares as in
the previous period. Estimates can then be changed for each brand/segment combination, either as expected
brand shares or as expected changes in brand share points. Whenever a change is made in any of the
estimates, the number for the other mode of entry is automatically updated. The total brand share estimates
for the market as a whole are also updated in the right-hand column. Simultaneously, the estimates of the
corresponding brand unit sales in each segment are calculated based on the segment sizes previously defined
and the brand share inputs. These numbers can be displayed by selecting the brand sales tab button at the
bottom of the screen. The estimates of brand sales can then be updated as targets or as changes from the
previous period in the same way as for the brand shares.
The approach described above consists of:
• starting with brand share estimates,
• displaying the expected brand sales resulting from the segment size and market share estimates, and
• updating selected brand sales estimates. It probably reflects the most logical process but it is also
possible to directly set estimates of expected brand sales. In this case, brand share estimates are
calculated on the basis of the brand sales and the segment sizes.
Marketing Plan - Distribution Mix
The price received by the firm for the sale of a product is equal to the retail price minus the distributor’s
margin. As the distribution margin varies across channels, the average selling price of a brand will depend on
the mix of its sales across the channels. To calculate the financial contribution of a brand thus requires an
estimate of its distribution mix.
The Distribution mix estimates can be made by selecting the corresponding tab in the marketing plan sub-
module. They can be set to the same values as in the last period, or be calculated automatically based on the
shopping habits study, by selecting the appropriate button at the bottom center of the screen. The second
alternative is available only if this market research study has been purchased in the current period. In this
case, MARKSTRAT3 uses the brand sales projections entered in the previous steps of the marketing plan.
For each brand the purchases of each segment are split by channel based on the shopping habits data. The
sales of a brand in a given channel are obtained by total over the segments.
The distribution mix estimates can also be entered or updated manually one by one. One should, however, be
particularly careful that the vertical sum of the percentages adds up to 100. The average distribution margin
corresponding to a given mix is displayed on the bottom line and is updated any time a change is made in the
Marketing Plan - Projections (Brand contribution and Company performance)
On the basis of the decisions and the estimates for segment sizes, brand shares, brand sales, and the
distribution mix, the marketing plan sub-module can make financial projections for the next period. These
projections can be displayed by selecting the Brand contribution and Company performance tabs at the
bottom of the screen.
When making financial projections, the software also makes a number of consistency checks; an errors and
warnings screen may be displayed if any problems are encountered. Common inconsistencies include
forgetting to enter some estimates, the distribution mix for a brand not adding up to 100%, or the sales
forecast for a brand exceeding the available inventory volume plus the production plan. Such errors and
warnings will require corrections in either the marketing plan estimates or the decisions. In the first case, just
select the appropriate tab and make the desired adjustments before returning to the financial projections. In
the second case, you can go back to the decision module by clicking on the close button at the bottom of the
screen, make any needed changes to the decisions, and return to the marketing plan sub-module. The
previous estimates entered in this marketing plan section have been saved and will be used for financial
projections unless modified.
Selecting the Brand contribution tab gives access, if all consistency checks are passed, to a pro forma
statement of brand contribution. From the top line of the statement, units sold, to the bottom line,
contribution after marketing, the software uses decisions and parameters to produce a simulation of the brand
contribution statement, which will appear in the company report. For instance, the average selling price is
obtained from the retail pricing decision and the average distribution margin calculated from the distribution
mix estimates. Similarly, the inventory level is calculated on the basis of the previous inventory (a factual
data) plus the production plan (a decision) minus the sales estimates, allowing for upward or downward
adjustments possible in the production process.
Selecting the Company performance tab gives access, if all consistency checks are passed, to a pro forma
statement of Company performance. This replicates a page in the company report but allows you to go one
step further by simulating results based on estimates. From the top line of units sold to the level of
contribution after marketing, it is an aggregate of the information available in the brand contribution pro
forma statement, separately for Sonites and Vodites as well as in total. Other expenses are then deducted to
provide the net contribution. Finally, a budget for next period is estimated on the basis of these expected
BRAND DECISIONS - PRODUCTION, PRICE AND ADVERTISING
Figure 4 Brand Decision Screen
Before entering your brand decisions you first have to select a brand. Two selector buttons at the top left-
hand corner let you choose between Sonite or Vodite brands. Then, a set of tabs labeled with brand names let
you choose which brand you want to process. Decisions on production, price, and communication can then
be entered for that brand. The Last period column is a reminder of your previous decisions. Input your new
decisions in either the “This period” column or as a percentage, positive or negative, in the “%Change”
The required decisions include the brand production level and the number of inventory units sold to trading
companies. Both decisions are given in thousands of units. The Base R&D project cell cannot be modified.
To introduce new brands or modify or withdraw existing ones, you must use the Brand portfolio dialog box
Enter a production level based on your expectations of the sales in the coming period, taking into account the
units left in inventory if any. The production department will adjust up to a limit of 20% (+ or -) to respond
to the real demand. You can decide to sell all or part of your inventory to a trading company which will buy
it at given percentage of its value (this percentage can be found in the Newsletter). This operation will
generate a loss of (1 - the given percentage) of the value of the stock sold to the trading company.
The production department is working for several divisions of your company, and can thus be viewed as a
highly flexible external supplier. As a consequence, you are not concerned about manufacturing investments,
fixed costs or capacity utilization. Each period, the Marketing department specifies a production plan for
each product. The Production department then proceeds to manufacture the required quantities in the best
possible conditions. The following rules guide the interface between the Marketing and the Production
• In a given period, the actual production level for each product is automatically adjusted in response to
actual demand for that product, within plus or minus 20% of the production plan submitted by
• From one period to the next, Marketing is completely free to increase or decrease production plan of a
given product, without any penalty. The transfer cost for each product incorporates all costs associated
with this high level of manufacturing flexibility, including depreciation and fixed costs.
• Marketing pays the Production department only when goods are actually sold.
The transfer cost of a given product will evolve over time under two main forces:
o inflation (which increases it)
o experience effects and economies of scale (which reduce it)
The transfer cost may be above the base cost specified in the successful R&D project (one of the product’s
six characteristics) in the case of a production level below 100,000 units. Indeed, until accumulated
production reaches 100,000 units, fixed costs have to be allocated to fewer units.
In cases of over-production leading to inventories, Marketing is charged inventory holding costs
corresponding to warehousing and working capital expenses. The inventory is valued at transfer cost and
holding costs are computed as a percentage of its value, according to the rate given each year in the
Teams can decide to sell off a portion of the stock by selling that portion to a trading company, at a price
corresponding to a given percentage of the transfer cost (the exact percentage will be found each period in
the Newsletter and is usually between 20% & 50%). As the units are still in the possession of the production
department, which charges the marketing department when units are sold, the obsolete units must then be
purchased from the production department and paid for. Consequently, a loss of (1 - the given percentage) of
transfer cost is taken on the obsolete inventory. This loss will appear as a cost for inventory disposal in the
next period company results.
In all cases, the older stocks will be sold first, according to the FIFO method, and the transfer price of each
unit will be calculated according to the production cost of the product at the time it was manufactured,
adjusted for inflation.
In case of under-production, there is no exact calculation of the level of lost sales. However, to get a good
feel for the amount of lost sales, one can compare the purchase intentions (consumer survey) with the actual
market share (consumer panel) for a given product. Sales can be lost to competition, in which case,
consumers who had the intention to buy your brand and cannot find it will transfer their buying to a
competitive brand. This competitive brand would then probably reach a higher market share than its initial
purchase intentions. Sales can also be completely lost to the industry, in which case, the market does not
develop as much as it could have, or alternatively, customers can decide to postpone their purchase decision
until the following period.
Markstrat companies provide recommended retail prices for each of their brands. This is the list price for
consumers. This corresponds to the price usually paid by consumers (except in the mass merchandiser
Specialty and department stores respect recommended retail prices provided by Markstrat companies. Mass
merchandisers typically sell all brands at a similar discount rate of 10% off the list price. Note that this
implies that mass merchandisers' margins are typically lower than those of the other channels because the
percentage margin applies to this discounted price. The table below provides a summary of retail prices,
margins and discounts:
Recommended retail price = $400
Specialty Stores Dept. Stores Mass Merchants.
Actual retail price $ 400 400 360
% 40% 30% 30%
$ 160 120 108
Selling price $ 240 280 252
Please note that the recommended retail price cannot be set so low that the company's Average Selling Price
is under transfer cost (i.e. dumping is strictly forbidden).
In addition, price increases or decreases of greater than 30% in one period are highly discouraged as they
often result in adverse market reactions. While consumers may react strongly in case of excessive price
increases, distributors may react as strongly when their margins are about to be cut because of a significant
decrease in the price of a brand. This applies whether or not the product marketed under that brand name is
modified. A message would warn the team when such decisions are made. If the team ignores the warning,
the recommended retail price is likely to be automatically adjusted to limit the negative effect of the adverse
The required decisions include the advertising media budget and the advertising research budget. Both
decisions are given in thousands of dollars. The advertising research budget finances the creative work,
media selection or other activities conducted by advertising agencies which improves the quality of your
message. In past years, companies have devoted on average 7% of their total communication expenditures to
research. Advertising research will normally make your advertising more effective, and is especially
important when you introduce a new brand or when you look to reposition an existing one. In thee last two
instances, higher percentages are recommended (in the range of 15-20%).
You can allocate your advertising budget to the various market segments. The entry on the 'targeted
segments' line corresponds to the proportion of the budget targeted to each of the segments respectively. The
percentages must add to 100%.
Select on which dimensions you want to communicate. You can give No objectives at all, or communicate
on MDS dimensions or on Semantic scales, i.e. on physical characteristics.
Then, select in the Dimension 1 and Dimension 2 cells the two dimensions along which you want to
reposition the brand. Choose None in the second dimension if you need to communicate on only one
Finally, enter in the two Objective cells the target positions. MDS positions must be given in whole numbers
on a scale from -20 to +20. Semantic dimensions on a scale of 1 to 7 may be expressed with one digit after
the decimal place.
Do not set any perceptual objective for your communication in the first period as you do not have enough
information yet to do so. See the section on Positioning for further information.
SALES FORCE AND DISTRIBUTION
Figure 5 Sales Force Screens
Your company's sales force is organised by channels of distribution. Your primary decision will be to assign
a number of sales people to each of the three distribution channels. Changes in the number of salespersons
are expected to have an influence on the distribution coverage of your brands. Your sales force is
knowledgeable about all your products. You can therefore modify the allocation of salespeople to specific
distribution channels without any expenditure.
Your secondary decision will be to instruct your sales people on how to allocate their efforts to the various
brands that they sell. Indeed, some brands are targeted to segments which are more likely to make their
purchase in certain channels of distribution. Enter for each distribution channel and each brand the % of
effort, mostly the time spent, which the salespeople will exert on this brand. The percentages must add up to
100% in each column. Using the 'normalize' button after you have entered new figures will automatically
adjust your inputs to total 100% in each channel. The sales force budget is automatically calculated for each
brand and totaled.
The 'assistant' button generates automatic allocation options through a dialog box which provides help on the
time allocation decision. Four assistant options are proposed. The first option 'equal allocation on all brands'
allocates an equal amount of effort to each brand within a channel. The three following options are based on
the previous period's results (allocation proportional to last period's unit sales, retail sales or contribution). In
these cases, no effort will be allocated to new brands introduced during the current period. Obviously, you
will need to enter some figures so that some effort is devoted to new brands. Beware, none of these four
allocation modes is optimal; hard thinking, a good strategy and a careful analysis of the Shopping Habits
study can also help you optimize the allocation of the sales force.
REPORT AND ANALYSIS MODULES
At the beginning of each decision round you will receive a copy of your annual report. The annual report
provides you with the results of the period that has just ended. The annual report is composed of three
separate documents: the Industry Newsletter, the Company Report and Market Research Studies. The
information available in these reports is also available in Markstrat along with some additional analysis tools.
This module/report provides you with information on your company. Here is a summary describing the
The company scorecard is a general summary of the firm's overall performance with a comparison with the
prior year's results.
Four overall measures of performance are reported: market share, retail sales, firm contribution and a stock
price index. The stock price index is based on multiple measures of the performance of the firm in its
industry. The return on investment is the ratio of the net contribution with the expenditures (marketing,
market research and R&D).
The company performance table consolidates all brands' contributions. The firm's net contribution is the total
Contribution after marketing - (market research studies + research and development + interest + exceptional
cost or profit)
Figure 6 The Company Scorecard and Company Performance Report
This section provides the contribution by brand (Figure 7). It also gives the total market share of each brand
and its distribution coverage i.e. the number of stores carrying the brand.
Brand Contribution calculation
Average retail price = Average prices paid by consumers, depending on the channels used
Average selling price = Average retail price - distributors' margins. Depends on the split among the three
different distribution channels, since retail prices and margins are different
Revenues = Number of units sold x Average selling price
Current unit transfer cost = Unit price charged by Production department to Marketing department for the
production batch of current period (for units sold only)
Average unit transfer cost = Computed on the basis of first-in, first-out. Likely to be different from the
current unit transfer cost when inventories were left at the end of the previous period
Cost of goods sold = Number of units sold x Average unit transfer cost
Inventory holding cost = Inventory value x Inventory holding cost per annum rate (% rate given each year in
the Industry Newsletter)
Inventory disposal loss = Inventory sold to a trading company at a given % of transfer cost -> leads to a loss
of (1 - the given %) of transfer cost per unit
Contribution before marketing = Revenues - (cost of goods sold + inventory holding cost + inventory
Contribution after marketing = CBM - (advertising + advertising research + sales force)
Figure 7 Contribution by Brand
R&D: Information on completed and incomplete R&D projects.
Cumulative results: Cumulative data on sales, production and marketing expenditures at brand and company
Messages: Messages generated by the simulation and the administrator.
Past decisions: Summary of decisions made at the beginning of the previous period.
This module/report provides you with publicly held information on the industry and on competing firms.
Here is a summary of the available data:
• Stock market and key performance indicators: - Stock price indices, market shares, sales, contributions,
key company performance indicators.
• Economic variables and costs: - GNP growth rate, inflation rate, production and sales force costs, market
• Market information: - Brand physical characteristics, brand prices, brand sales and market shares in units
and value. It also indicates which brands have been recently improved upon or introduced.
This module uses the information provided by the other modules to produce and display charts. It also
provides access to a number of interactive analysis tools. A number of selectors, located on the chart itself,
let you specify which data you want to plot:
• in units or in value;
• Sonite market only, Vodite market only, all markets;
• XY graph with time on the horizontal axis, pie or bar graph for current period only, bar graph for
• time scale (evolution, or selected period)
There are five components:
1. Market - Market size and growth rate, segment size and growth rate, number of marketed brands,
average market prices.
2. Performance - Retail sales, market shares, contribution, stock prices, return on investment.
3. Benchmarking - Charts corresponding to the benchmarking study: retail sales, revenues, ...etc.
4. Product Design - Set of charts, graphs and tools that use data from the Semantic Scales and Multi-
Dimensional Scaling (MDS) studies to help you design new products or improve existing ones. Most of
this information is based on simple and multiple regression analysis. Ideal value trends, estimate of ideal
brand characteristics, estimates of brand perceptions, or estimates of physical characteristics for brand
5. Portfolio Tool - Product portfolio growth/share matrix.
Ordering Market Research Studies
Figure 8 Ordering Market Research Studies
Market research studies may be requested simply by checking the boxes corresponding to each of the studies
desired. The cost of these studies appears as the boxes are checked. All studies except Benchmarking can be
ordered separately for the Sonite and the Vodite markets. When you order a study, the study is performed
during the simulated period and the results are made available at the end of the period, providing information
for the next period's decisions.
Some of the studies may apply only if there are brands marketed during the period (e.g., the consumer panel
for the Vodite market). It may be difficult to anticipate whether competition will launch new brands ahead of
time. You can nevertheless order these studies in anticipation that the study will contain relevant
information. If this is not the case, you will not be charged for this study.
The cost of the market research studies is expected to increase with inflation during the course of the
simulation. Inflation rate is about 3-4 %. The results from these studies have different levels of errors
attached to them, according to the methodology used and the sample size. The information in each report
pertains to the market situation at the end of the indicated period.
Summary of Market Research Studies
Industry benchmarking: Provides general information about each competitor (obtained from their annual
reports). This includes income statement data on revenues and expenses globally for the entire company.
Consumer Survey: This is a survey questionnaire administered to 3000 individuals at the end of the
simulated period. It gives brand awareness, purchase intentions, and shopping habit data of each for the five
segments for all marketed brands. The brand awareness figures represent the proportion of individuals who
have unaided recall of the brand’s name, and they are given for each Sonite (or Vodite) brand currently on
the market. The shopping habit data indicate, for each channel type, the proportion of individuals who would
choose this channel when shopping for a Sonite. The purchase intentions figures represent the proportion of
individuals, among those familiar with the various brands, who would select a brand as their first choice if
they were buying one within a year. These figures are also represented for each Sonite brand currently on the
Consumer Panel: This study provides the market shares, based on units sold, for each Sonite (or Vodite)
brand in each segment. The industry sales in each segment are also indicated, in thousands of units (KU).
Distribution Panel: This study provides the market shares, based on units sold, for each Sonite (or Vodite)
brand in each channel. The industry sales in each distribution channel are also indicated in thousands of
units. This study also indicates the level of presence of each brand in the various distribution channels. Brand
coverage is expressed as a percentage of the total number of outlets for each channel.
Semantic Scales: This study is based on a semantic differential questionnaire administered to a sample of
600 individuals. Respondents are asked to rate each characteristic of each brand on a scale from 1 to 7
according to the way they perceive the brand. Several semantic scales, such as the following one
corresponding to the physical characteristics of Sonites (or Vodites), were presented to the respondents:
Lightest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Heaviest
They were also asked to indicate their most preferred (or ideal) point on each scale, and to rank the scales in
terms of their importance to them. The reported results are the mean scale values for each brand and for the
segment ideal points on the three scales that were ranked as most important. When no brand is available on
the market, this will only give the perception of ideal values on the semantic scales for each segment, and
would be used primarily for R&D planning.
Perceptual Mapping of Brand Similarities and Preferences: This study provides a joint space
configuration obtained by non-metric multi-dimensional scaling. It relies on similarity and preference data on
the complete set of Sonite brands obtained through interviews with a sample of 200 individuals. If first gives
the minimum number of dimensions that were sufficient to provide a good fit to the data, as well as a likely
interpretation of the axes based on semantic scale responses. The study then provides the graphical
representation in this space of the perceptual positioning of the Sonite brands and the segments’ ideal points.
Further details on such a perceptual map and on its interpretation will be given later.
Market Forecast: This study provides an estimate of the expected Sonite (or Vodite) market size in
thousands of units and market growth of each segment, for the next period as well as for five periods later. It
relies on market extrapolation and assumes stable marketing action on the part of the competitors. Any
change in the competitors' strategies and in market conditions would not be reflected in such a study. When
no brand is available on the market this study will give a forecast of the potential market for the first period
of introduction of a product, based on declared likelihood of purchase obtained from a sample of individuals.
In this case, the market forecast obviously does not rely on history and tends to be less accurate and generally
Competitive Advertising Estimates: Estimates of the total advertising expenditures for each competitive
brand are provided by an advertising research firm. These estimates are also given for the brands of the
company requesting the study as a reference to control for estimation errors.
Competitive Sales Force Estimates: Estimates of the sales fore sizes of competitive companies and their
breakdown by channel of distribution are obtained from a specialized market research firm. The same
estimates are also given for the sales force of the company request the study as a reference to control for
Advertising Experiment: An advertising experiment is conducted, increasing the advertising budget in
selected regional test markets. The experimental results are used to project what the level of brand awareness
and the share of market would have been for each of the company brands by segment if the advertising
budget had been increased for that brand by the indicated percentage over the actual expenditures while all
other factors, including competitors’ activities, had remained the same. The estimates are also broken down
by segment. The experiment only tests the budget size, not changes in other parts of advertising strategy such
as advertising research or positioning objectives.
Sales Force Experiment: A sales force experiment is set up in regional test markets by increasing the
number of salespersons per channel. The experimental results are then used to estimate the number of
distributors and market share each of the company’s brands would have had in the entire market if the sales
force directed to each channel had been increased as indicated while all other factors, including competitors’
activities, had remained the same.
Consumers' perception of brands
You, as a manufacturer, can easily classify your and competing brands based on objective data like their
technical attributes and their price. When it comes to making a buying decision however, consumers are
influenced by their 'perception' of the brands available on the market rather than by the actual features and
properties of these brands. This perception is often based on subjective data and information and can easily
be distorted from reality. The consumers' perception, for a given category of products, is primarily driven by
their most important needs in this category.
Once consumers are aware of a brand, they typically analyse to what extent this brand meets their needs
better than the competing brands that they already know. Your success will greatly depend on your ability to
manage the development and positioning of brands. The "Perceptual Map" is a valuable tool for visualizing
brand positioning. It shows the ideal points for each customer segment and customers perceptions of existing
Illustrative Perceptual Map
SELF (based on MDS Study)
S Need 1
SI O Ot Segment ideal Point
SIR of Brands
Once a brand has been sold in the market, consumers have a certain idea about the brand, which is
represented by its position in a perceptual space. Over time, demand and competitive dynamics affect what
should be the optimal positioning of a brand. In Markstrat, brands may be repositioned to adapt to new
environmental conditions. A brand might not need to be repositioned. Indeed, if the perception on one
dimension corresponds to what consumers want, there is no reason to change that perception.
Repositioning can be achieved by advertising and/or by R&D. Brand repositioning by advertising is limited
by the actual physical attributes of a product, and consumers' perceptions of these characteristics may be
shifted only within a certain range by advertising. At some point, it becomes more effective to reposition a
brand by changing its physical characteristics than by advertising alone.
The choice of repositioning through advertising versus new product development depends on the extent to
which repositioning is desired and is a function of the current level of brand awareness. A brand which
consumers are extremely familiar with will be more difficult to reposition. It also depends, of course, on the
ability of the firm to complete R&D projects with the physical characteristics of the products that
corresponds to the market needs. Finally, it should be noted that completing an R&D project will take at least
one period, while advertising has an immediate effect.
Identifying and anticipating market evolution
Ideal points reflect the needs of consumers. These needs gradually change as the consumers' values and
behavior evolve over time. These changes are typically due to changes in the environment, which in turn
does not change drastically from one period to the next. Therefore, changes in preferences are by no mean
entirely external to the industry. Indeed, the actions of the competitors in the industry can have a significant
impact on these trends.
Marketing decisions of the firms in the industry impact the segments' evolution in terms of their size, the
importance of the dimensions characterising the brands in the consumers' perceptual space, and consumers'
preferences in terms of the degree to which they desire the product to possess given attributes. The semantic
scales and MDS studies both provide a map which tracks the ideal point evolutions. If the pattern over time
is stable enough and if the information provided by the market research is reliable enough, it is then possible
to predict the position of an ideal point as a function of time.
Respondents are asked to rate each brand on several semantic scales corresponding to the physical
characteristic of Sonites (or Vodites). These are measured on a scale from 1 to 7. For example:
Lightest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Heaviest
They were also asked to indicate their most preferred (or ideal) point on each scale, and to rank the scales in
terms of their importance to them. The reported results are the mean scale values for each brand and for each
segment the ideal points on these scales (see Figure 11 – NB these are representative and should not be used
for inference during the simulation)
For each brand characteristic, including price, a simple regression analysis is made to calculate perceived
semantic scales as a linear function of real brand attributes. For instance, perceived weight on the 1 to 7 scale
is compared against actual weight in Kg. The regression analysis is made on all existing brands. The results
are given in the Analysis module. Regressions can be estimated only if at least three brands are marketed.
This is always the case in the Sonite market, but not in the Vodite one.
The graph in figure 10 and similar ones are provided on-line for each physical attribute when you purchase
the Semantic Scales Study. Perceptions are plotted against actual attributes for all marketed brands. A
graphical interpolation on this graph will let you calculate accurately which physical level is required to
reach a given perceived level.
Estimates of perceptions for new or modified brands
Access the dialog box shown below to estimate using six regression formulas how a new or modified brand
would be perceived, i.e. where it would be positioned on the Brand Map.
Figure 9 Semantic Scales
Figure 10 Relationship between Perception and Reality
Figure 11 Estimates of Perceptions
In case of a new brand, click on New brand and key in its physical characteristics and price in the blue cells.
Then click on the Estimate button. The estimated perceived position is given in the red cells.
In case of an existing brand, click on Modified brand and choose the brand you plan to modify. Its current
physical characteristics and price appear in the blue cells and the perceived position is estimated in the red
cells. Note that at this point, you can check the accuracy of the regression formulas by comparing the
estimated perceived values against the actual ones given in the semantic scales study. Key in the
modification you plan to make to this brand, i.e. lower price or higher power, and click on the Estimate
button. The estimated perceived position is immediately calculated and shown in the second section of the
dialog box on a scale of 1 to 7 in red text.
Estimates of characteristics for brand positioning
The estimations can be reversed i.e. Markstrat will estimate how an existing brand or R&D project should be
modified in order to achieve a given position on the Brand Map. Follow the steps below:
1. To reposition an existing brand, select Brand to reposition and choose a brand. To modify an existing
R&D project, select R&D project to modify and choose a project.
2. The current characteristics of the brand or project are displayed in the first row of black cells. Price is
not relevant for R&D projects. Simultaneously, the actual perceived position, obtained from the
Semantic Scales study, is given in the second row (only for brands). Finally, the estimated perceived
position, as calculated with the regression analysis formulas, is given in the third row. Note that you can
check the accuracy of the regression formulas by comparing the second and third rows, which, ideally,
should be identical.
3. Enter in the blue cells entitled Target perceived position the position on the Brand Map where you
would like to reposition the brand or project.
4. Click on the Estimate button. Markstrat applies the inverted regression formulas to estimate what the
new characteristics of the brand or project should be. The results are immediately calculated and noted
Figure 12 Estimates of Physical Characteristics
Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS)
A second basis for analysing the positioning of each competitive brand is the perceptual mapping of
similarities and preferences based on the Multidimensional scaling study. MDS differs from the semantic
scales study in that the respondent is not provided with criteria to evaluate the brands. Instead, these criteria
are deduced by the approach which is based on global assessment of similarities of pairs of brands. It relies
on similarity and preference data on the complete set of Sonite brands obtained through interviews with a
sample of 200 individuals. Respondents are asked to rate pairs of marketed brands according to the
similarities or difference between two brands. Complex mathematical formulas are applied to these ratings so
as to build a three-dimensional map where the distance between two brands is small for similar brands and
brands are far from each other on the map for dissimilar brands. The map is a graphical representation of the
respondents’ ratings. The dimensions are labeled by comparing brands positions on each dimension and their
ratings on semantic scales. In this space the perceptual positioning of the Sonite brands and the segments’
ideal points can be plotted. This is a complex task which necessitates a number of brands to be able to derive
a solution. This study is therefore not available for the Vodite market until sufficient (i.e. 7) competing
brands are marketed.
The Multidimensional scaling study measures brand perceptions along three composite dimensions which
are more or less influenced by the various brand attributes. The most satisfactory interpretation of these
dimensions for the Sonite market is:
The table below shows the relationship between Sonite brand characteristics and composite dimensions in
the initial period:
Composite Relative Influence of physical characteristics
Weight Design Price Max Volume Power
Economy High Slight Slight Strong Slight Slight Slight
Performance Medium Slight Slight Slight Moderate Slight Strong
Convenience Low Moderate Strong Slight Slight Moderate Slight
The dimensions for the Vodite market are:
The table blow shows the relationship between Vodite brand characteristics and composite dimensions, in
the initial period:
Composite Relative Influence of physical characteristics
Weight Design Price Max Autonomy Diameter
Efficacy High Slight Moderate Slight V. strong Slight Slight
Flexibility Medium Moderate Slight Slight Slight Strong Moderate
Economy Low Slight Slight V. strong Slight Slight Slight
For each composite dimension of the perceptual map - Economy, Performance and Convenience for the
Sonite market - a multiple regression analysis is calculated to estimate perceived MDS positions as a linear
function of real brand attributes; for instance, perceived performance on the -20 to +20 scale against actual
weight in Kg, actual power in W, actual volume in dm3, etc.
Figure 13 Relationship between Composite Dimension and Product Characteristic
Figure 14 MDS Perceptual Map
This is a two-dimensional map whose axes are arbitrarily scaled from -20 to +20 and represent composite
dimensions. Axis one represents the first most important need of the consumers and axis 2 the second most
important need for that product category. The study will provide the best interpretation of the composite
dimensions for each axis. Note only 2 dimensions out of the 3 can be represented simultaneously.
The circles 'Bu', 'Si', 'Pr', 'Hi', and 'Ot' on the graph represent the ideal points of each of the five segments.
Each circle only represents the 'center of gravity' of the whole segment. Each consumer has a different
preference; however, the preferences within a segment are sufficiently similar so that the ideal point
represents well the overall global preference of the segment.
The various geometric shapes (square, triangle, star...) correspond to the positioning of the brands as they are
perceived by the market at the time of the study. Each brand name is clearly labeled. One specific color and
shape is attached to each firm (for example, all brands marketed by firm A are represented by red stars).
Estimates of perceptions for new or modified brands or estimates of characteristics for brand positioning can
both be calculated in a similar way to the procedure described under semantic scales.
For example Markstrat can show how an existing brand should be modified in order to achieve a given
position on the Perceptual Map utilizing three regression formulas which Markstrat solves with an
optimization routine. To do this, follow the steps below:
1. Choose the brand to reposition.
2. The current characteristics of the brand are displayed in the first row of black cells. Simultaneously,
the estimated perceived MDS position, as calculated with the regression analysis formulas, is given
in the row entitled Estimated perceived position. Note that you can check the accuracy of the
regression formulas by comparing the estimated perceived position against the actual one given in
the MDS study.
3. Enter in the blue cells entitled Target perceived position the position on the Perceptual Map where
you would like to reposition the brand. These values will often be the ideal values given by the MDS
study, unless you plan to target multiple segments with a single brand.
4. Check the characteristics which the optimizer is allowed to work with; Max Freq, Power and Price in
the example below. The more characteristics you check, the longer time the optimization will take
and the less accurate it will be. In addition, you may not want to completely redesign your brand
because of the high budget that will be required by the R&D department.
5. Click on Optimize and wait for the optimizer to complete the calculations. MARKSTRAT3 applies
the inverted regression formulas to estimate what should be the new characteristics of the brand.
The result can be read in the red cells (the blue ones that became red when you checked them). You can
check the accuracy of the optimizer by comparing the target position, which you specified, with the achieved
one given in the black cells entitled Optimized perceived position. Marktrat3 offers three optimization
modes, depending on the time allocated. The Fast routine is fast but not very accurate, the Slow one is slow
but usually very accurate; the Normal one is in between.
Figure 15 Evolution of Ideal Points
Ideal points on the perceptual map, or on the semantic scales’ chart, reflect the needs of consumers, or the
price that they are ready to pay to get a product fitting these needs. For a given brand and a given segment,
the optimal position on the map is as close as possible to the ideal point of that segment. However, there are
several reasons why brands are not always ideally positioned.
• Changing segment needs. Segment needs evolve over time. This may be due to changes in the
environment or in the consumers’ value and behaviour. Period after period the distance on the map
between the brand and the ideal point becomes greater and greater.
• Price pressure. As price is the most important dimension in the Sonite market, manufacturers should
expect pressure from consumers to lower prices, especially in the low-end segment. Again, if prices are
not adjusted accordingly, the distance between the brand and the ideal point and the price or economy
axis is likely to increase.
• New target segments. For a new market in its early stages, a good strategy may be to serve several
segments with a single brand. This situation may occur if the needs of two segments are fairly similar or
if one segment is too small to allow the necessary economies of scale. Then as needs change or as the
segment size increases it may become desirable to position one brand closer to each ideal point.
• Competitor entry. In the absence of competition, one firm may successful serve consumers with a
product that is not exactly adapted to their needs. Then if a competitor introduces a new brand that fits
these needs better, it may become necessary to reposition the old brand closer to the ideal point.
Positioning through advertising
Advertising in Markstrat is primarily used as a communication tool to get consumers to know about the
brand name and about the characteristics of the brand. Advertising strategy should be consistent with the
marketing strategy of the firm. It is used to increase brand awareness and to position and reposition brands so
that consumers are convinced that the product offerings correspond to their needs and wants. Using
advertising to reposition a product requires four types of decisions:
1. Selecting the target segment(s)
2. Specifying perceptual objectives for the brand. For example, to reposition SUSI closer to the
'Singles' segment, you would check the actual coordinates of the ideal point of that segment, try to
anticipate its moves by looking at the trends, and enter the coordinates of the point that you want to
reach on the map. You can choose to set perceptual objectives either on semantic scales or on MDS
dimensions. A maximum of two dimensions can be used to keep the message simple and effective.
3. Allocating an advertising media budget for the brand.
4. Allocating an advertising research budget. The higher the advertising research budget, the more
accurate one may expect the repositioning to be in terms of reaching the perceptual objectives,
although there will naturally remain a limit to how far and how fast one can move perceptions.
Simply indicating the targeted segment (100% of budget on the 'Singles') is insufficient to reposition a brand.
Target selection only affects the media vehicle selected to communicate the message, but does not impact the
Although consumers’ perceptions are linked to the brand’s physical characteristics, they can be slightly
influenced by communication. But the repositioning effect is limited – this is especially true when the brand
awareness level is high –because a brand which consumers are extremely familiar with is more difficult to
The appropriate advertising program must also be designed in order to let consumers know of the change in
the physical characteristics of a brand in case of brand modification through the implementation of a new
When trying to reposition a brand with advertising, it is necessary to indicate to the advertising agency what
the desired perceptual objectives are. If the intent of the advertising is simply to raise brand awareness with
no positioning objective, simply check the 'no objective' option.
Objectives may be chosen on two communication dimensions. Perceptual objectives may be provided either
in terms of semantic scales or in terms of the scales derived from the multidimensional scaling study. Just
click on the type of scale of your choice. The choice of objectives to communicate depends on your scale
choice. The appropriate dimensions can be displayed by clicking on the arrow of the boxes corresponding to
dimensions 1 and 2. Once this choice of dimension is made, the objective levels must be entered. For the
scales based on the multidimensional scaling study, these numbers should be between -20 and +20, the
maximum coordinates of the axes. For the semantic scales, the range is from 1 to 7.
These perceptual objectives convey information primarily of a qualitative nature (for example, how much
should the lightness of the product be stressed) for the design of the advertising platform and copy. The
numeric representation of these perceptual objectives is used only for communication purposes.
The communication may be on a single dimension (a unique selling proposition). In this case, the list box for
dimension 2 should not remain blank; instead, pick 'none' in the list to indicate that the communication is
made on a single objective indicated in the box for objective 1.
Do you want to communicate
on the semantic scales or on
the MDS composite
On which dimensions
do you want to
Input the coordinates
of the point that you
want to reach on the map
Positioning through research & development
After assessing a situation and developing a marketing strategy in line with the needs of the market, the
strategy must be implemented. One of the most important aspects of implementation is specifying the
characteristics of the product that will be offered to consumers. Given the time necessary to complete R&D
projects and the long term nature of strategy, the product specifications should be based on the expectations
of where the product should be positioned in the future.
Whether you use semantic scales or the MDS study it is possible to relate the perceptual dimension or scale
to an actual physical characteristic of the product. The specification of physical characteristics of a product
can only be done effectively by gauging the relationship between an actual product attribute and the
consumers' perception of that attribute. A simple way to summarize the information that you possess about
that relationship is to plot the perceptions versus the actual characteristics.
Alternatively, when few data points are available, it could be preferable simply to estimate the optimal
physical characteristics for a given segment from the closest brands available in the market. These methods,
although imperfect, offer approximations which should become more accurate as more data becomes
available over time.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
The Marketing department is responsible for initiating research and development projects. Making R&D
decisions is a crucial task because: (1) existing products will probably have to be improved during their
lifetime, so as to suit the changing needs of consumers; (2) new products may have to be designed in order to
target untapped segments in existing or new markets.
The R&D department also operates as a profit centre. The marketing department of a firm may request its
R&D department to develop specific projects in order to improve existing products or introduce new ones.
Up to five R&D projects may be specified in a given period for each of the two markets (5 Sonite and 5
Vodite projects), and a maximum of 30 Sonite and 30 Vodite projects applies over the simulation.
The Research and Development dialog box allows you to perform the following operations on your project
• Start a new project
• Conduct an on-line query or request a feasibility study
• Continue or complete an on-going project
• Reintroduce a suspended project
• Deleting or Shelving a project
Figure 16 Research and development Module
Creating a New R&D Project
Click on the New project button at the bottom of the Research & development window to start a new project.
A dialog box pops up where you enter the last three characters of the new project name. If you want to
slightly modify an existing project, check Use one of the completed projects and select it the project in the
list. This will enable you to use one of the previously completed projects as the basis for a new project.
The Names of the R&D projects are made up of five characters. The first character is always a 'P' for project.
The second letter identifies the type of product being developed ('S' for Sonite, 'V' for Vodite), the last three
characters can be freely chosen by the firm. In the past, each firm has successfully completed two R&D
projects corresponding to the brands marketed in Period 0. Their name is made of the letter 'P' followed by
the corresponding brand name. For instance, the R&D project corresponding to the existing brand SAMA
was called PSAMA.
The name of a given project cannot be reused for a different project, even if the new project is only to search
for a minor modification of the product (except the base cost). If a firm realises that one (or several) of the
first five characteristics requested is not right for the market, this implies that a new project code name needs
to be used.
Marketing requests a project from the R&D department by specifying a project name, a budget, the physical
characteristics and base cost of the desired product. A project specification consists of any combination of
the five most important characteristics for the product category as long as each is a whole number and
remains within its respective feasible range. Enter the required physical characteristics in the Project
specifications cells. The range of possible values is given in the text above the input cells.
The budget for a given project represents the investment that marketing is ready to make for the R&D
department to try to develop that specified product in the coming year. It will be deducted from the
marketing budget. Therefore, the performance of the marketing department depends on an effective
interaction with the R&D department.
R&D project expenditures include not only the expenses required to develop the project but also the research
and evaluation necessary to find components and potential suppliers, make technical evaluations, and
provide production line planning. The total budget required to complete a project depends on the
characteristics specified and the experience of the firm with similar products, in particular the experience of
the R&D department in completing similar projects in the past. It also depends on the base cost requested.
Enter the Allocated budget in thousands of dollars or check Feasibility study. In the later case, the project
will not be developed, but the R&D department will find out the exact budget required to complete the
project and the minimum feasible base cost (see later). The allocated budget corresponds to the budget
allocated during the current period to the project. The total R&D budget accumulated so far is also shown.
Base cost calculation
For both Sonites and Vodites, the base cost figure represents the unit cost that would be charged to the
marketing department for the product for a production batch of 100,000 units. Cost does not have any upper
limit, and its lower limit depends on the five physical characteristics of the product. The unit cost increases
with the specification on design, maximum frequency, power, and autonomy. It decreases with the
specification levels of the weight, diameter, and volume. In requesting an R&D project, this indicates the unit
cost which the R&D department must use as a target. It is the role of the R&D department to determine the
feasibility of such a cost with the budget they have been provided.
One simple way to specify a base cost in an R&D project is to start from the price that consumers in the
targeted segment are willing to pay for that product. Given an objective for the margins, the maximum cost
possible to realize that objective can be computed. This might not be the lowest cost achievable, but it
provides a basis above which the strategy would not be attractive. An alternative method for determining the
cost characteristic is by doing many on-line queries or feasibility studies, as R&D can provide information as
to the lowest cost that they are willing to guarantee. Because not all physical characteristics have the same
importance for the consumers, a trade-off must be found to achieve a cost which will provide appropriate
margins for the firm.
The HIGHER the cost • Design
• Max. Frequency
the HIGHER the • Power
base cost • Autonomy
The HIGHER the cost
requested • Weight/
characteristic • Diameter
the LOWER the
This cost should be specified once information about the feasibility of the product at a certain cost with a
given R&D budget is obtained. The on-line query can help you decide which base cost to specify and which
budget to allocate. In the absence of such information, the R&D department can be requested to search for
the minimum transfer cost technically feasible, for the requested technical specifications, by checking the
corresponding box. Beware - developing a project at the minimum cost usually requires a high development
budget since the development team will not have much flexibility in the choice of materials and production
On-Line Queries and Feasibility Studies
When starting a new project or trying to complete an existing one, each team may immediately obtain a
response from the R&D department by requesting an on-line query. At any point in time, you may check
with the R&D department the feasibility of a product with specific characteristics.
The information given by a query includes:
- the minimum feasible base cost, in dollars;
- the budget required for completion at the requested base cost (note that the requested base cost is
automatically adjusted to the minimum one if the amount given was too low).
On line-queries are free of charge and provide immediate results, but are limited to five queries in each
period. They can be used in the current decision round to specify R&D projects. However, on-line queries
are not very accurate. In this case, they provide their best estimates at no cost but without performing a
thorough, costly investigation More precisely, the information provided is over-estimated by a factor that can
be as high as 50%. This means that projects specified with query information will be successfully completed
the following period, but for a budget that was probably far too high!
click here to obtain a
safe estimate of the
minimum base cost
and budget required
for completion of
Alternatively, you can get estimates of the minimum cost at which the product could realistically be
produced and the R&D budget required to guarantee the completion by requesting a feasibility study for
$100,000. Although feasibility studies require time, since the information is not available before the end of
the period during which it is requested, the information provided is very accurate and not over-estimated.
Completing an On-going R&D Project
Select the project to complete by clicking on its tab button of the Research & development dialog box. If the
project is not in the current list of projects, you must first reintroduce it. The cells contained in the Response
from R&D for ongoing project box are filled in with the R&D department report. The available information
1. the minimum feasible base cost in dollars;
2. the current base cost in dollars, i.e.; the base cost that was requested during the previous decision
3. the cumulative development budget allocated to this project since the beginning, in thousands of
4. the budget required for completion, in thousands of dollars.
The additional budget required to guarantee completion does not need to be invested in the next period. The
guarantee applies to any future period, the amount being adjusted for inflation over time.
At this point, you have two options.
1. You can complete the project at the current base cost by entering the current base cost in the cell
Requested base cost and the required budget for completion in the cell Allocated budget. By default,
MARKSTRAT3 automatically completes this for you. Using this option, you are 100% guaranteed that
the project will be available next period to launch a new brand or to modify an existing one (see brand
2. If you are not satisfied with the current base cost, for instance because it is much higher than the
minimum one, you can try to develop the project at a lower base cost. Of course, the budget required for
completion no longer applies because the R&D department assumed that the project would be completed
at the current base cost. So, if you enter a lower base cost in the cell Requested base cost, you must enter
a higher budget in the cell Allocated budget. The on-line query may help you specify these two
decisions. Using this option does NOT give you a 100% guarantee of the projects successful completion:
the project may not be available next period.
Reintroducing a Suspended R&D Project
Suspended projects are projects which are not completed, but ones which the R&D department has worked
on for at least one period. Suspended projects can be reintroduced by clicking on Reintroduce suspended
project. If this button is grayed, it means that none of your projects have been shelved for future use.
Reintroduced projects can then be completed as explained in Completing an on-going project.
Deleting or Shelving an R&D Project
Select the project to delete or shelve by clicking on its tab at the button of the Research & development
Utilisation of completed R&D projects
All the R&D projects which the firm has pursued in the current and past periods are listed in the R&D
section of the company report. The list includes the projects which already existed in the firm at the
beginning of the simulation. For each project the following information is given: Name, Physical
characteristics, Base cost (current and minimum realistic), Cumulative expenditures (total expenditures made
on each project up to its completion or to the current period), and Additional budget required for completion
(if the project has been successfully completed, the availability is indicated). It is also possible to view only
the projects currently available on a separate window or only a list of the on-going (not yet completed)
An R&D project, once completed, makes the corresponding product available for production. If the team
decides to use the new product opportunity, two options are available. Either the product is entered on the
market as a new brand, or an existing brand is modified with the physical characteristics corresponding to the
project (see next section).
Use the Brand Portfolio screen dialog box to introduce new brands and modify or withdraw existing ones
New brand introduction
click here to display all completed
R&D projects and their features
By clicking on the 'introduce new brand' button, a dialogue box appears. A new brand is introduced on the
market by entering a brand name which has not been used in the past. This brand name is completely
independent of the code used for the R&D project. The name of the R&D project giving the project
specifications for producing the brand must be entered on the line 'Base R&D project'. The list of available
R&D projects is provided for information and the detailed specification of each project can be obtained by
clicking on the 'View R&D report' button. The name of the R&D project to be used as the base can simply be
selected by clicking on the name of the project in the list of available projects. Obviously, in order to
introduce a brand in a given period, it is required that the corresponding R&D project be successfully
completed in a previous period. A project requested from the R&D department is never available for
commercialization before the beginning of the following period.
Multiple brands with same physical characteristics
The same product can be marketed under different names. This could occur in competitive situations where
the presence of multiple brands could build barriers to the entry of new brands by competitors. This situation
could also occur when the same basic product is to be distributed under different brand names to different
segments which may be willing to pay different prices.
An existing brand is modified by keeping its existing name and using the physical characteristics
corresponding to a new completed project. The only difference with a brand introduction is that the brand
name is not new, so awareness levels are maintained.
Select in the list entitled Marketed brand the brand which you want to modify, and then click on the
'Modification' button. The R&D project name corresponding to the new product specification must be
selected among the available R&D projects completed in prior periods. Of course, the name of the brand
cannot be changed, otherwise, it would be a brand introduction. The 'undo' button in the brand portfolio
window can be used to cancel the changes made to a brand using the 'modification' button.
One of the consequences of a brand modification decision is that the production department will immediately
start producing the new version of the product. Inventories of the obsolete product have to be sold outside of
the Markstrat world. In this case, the obsolete stocks are sold to a trading company at a price corresponding
to a given percentage of the transfer cost (the exact percentage will be found each period in the Newsletter).
As the units are still in the possession of the production department, which charges the marketing department
when units are sold, the obsolete units must then be purchased from the production department and paid for.
Consequently, a loss of (1 - the given percentage) of transfer cost is taken on the obsolete inventory. This
loss will appear as a cost for inventory disposal in the next period company results. The same rule applies if
inventories remain when a brand is withdrawn from the market.
The 'withdraw' option removes a brand which was marketed in the previous period from the market for the
following period. The undo option enables the team to re-insert a brand which had been moved to the
'withdraw brand' table.
If inventories remain when a brand is withdrawn from the market, they are sold to a trading company (as
outlined previously). A brand which was marketed in the past and withdrawn from the market may not be re-
introduced later in the simulation.
COST REDUCTION VERSUS EXPERIENCE CURVE
The manufacturing cost of the products tends to decrease as a result of productivity improvements gained
through experience, although this effect may be offset by inflation. This 'experience effect' can result from a
variety of sources in addition to labor productivity. The cost reduction generated by the production
department is very regular, every time cumulative production for a given product doubles, unit transfer cost
from the production department to the marketing department decreases by about 15%. However, in the case
of several products based on the very same R&D project, cumulated productions will be added and
productivity gains will be shared.
Greater changes in manufacturing costs may be obtained by undertaking appropriate R&D projects, for
which it is necessary to change only the cost characteristic of an otherwise unmodified product. There are
two methods for deciding what should be the actual cost requested: 1) feasibility study specifying the lowest
possible base cost (very accurate but takes time); 2) on-line R&D query option (overstated but immediate).
The budget required to complete such a cost reduction project varies by firm and depends on the amount of
R&D experience developed over time by each firm.
The base cost of a new project might be lower than the base cost for the first 100,000 units of the current
product but higher than the current transfer cost achieved by experience effect. It can, however, lead to cost
reduction as, after the product modification, production starts a new experience curve. By the time the brand
is known in the market, sales could be substantial and cumulative production could double extremely fast,
possibly within the first year of production. While the older product might be in the flat part of its experience
curve, where gains in productivity are minimal, the new product starts on a new experience curve and
therefore benefits from high level of productivity gains.
Cost reduction projects should be weighed against experience curve effects
Base cost A A
(initial experience curve)
Base cost B B
transfer cost A1
cost reduced product
(new experience curve)
100 KU 225 KU Cumulative production
You have been given a marketing budget to fund your marketing expenditures: advertising, sales force,
market studies and R&D.
Click on the Budget button at the bottom of the Decisions module window to obtain a summary of your
current expenditures. The last row of the Overall budget chart will tell you if you have exceeded or not your
A red negative number indicates that you have overspent your marketing budget. Use the two detailed charts
entitled, Brand budget and R&D budget to find out how you can reduce your marketing expenditures. You
may also explore the possibility of negotiating a loan or a budget increase with your instructor!
A purple positive number is a good sign; you have some money left over!
It is recommended that you do not systematically spend your entire budget, especially when you reach the
$15M - $20M range. Your strategy should guide you in deciding whether a given expense is worth making
You can negotiate a loan or a budget increase with your instructor on the basis of a well-defined marketing
plan. If you do get a loan, select Finances/New loan in the Interface module. You will see the dialog box pop
up which gives you the option to request a new loan and to specify an amount.
Click on the New loan tab and input the loan characteristics in the corresponding cells. Beware; the capital
borrowed must be given in thousands of dollars.
The instructor validates the loan by entering his or her password in the field Director's signature. Do not
worry if your instructor is not able to sign your loan before you must transfer your decisions. He or she can
approve the loan once decisions from your team are collected.
The following loan policy will apply to all teams, regardless of their financial situations:
• Maximum cumulated amount of loans during the course: $ 10M
• Maximum amount for a single loan : $ 5M
• Loan terms: 8% interest rate over 3 years
The loan schedule screen provides the list-of past and new loans or budget modifications which you have
negotiated with the instructor. to access this list, select Finances/Loan schedule in the Interface module.
Budget Increase or Decrease
You can negotiate a loan or a budget increase with your instructor on the basis of a well defined marketing
If a budget increase has been approved, select Finances/Budget increase or decrease in the Interface module.
The dialog box will pop up and you will be able to enter the amount of budget increase or decrease and
request the CEO's signature.
Click on the Change in budget tab at the bottom of the screen and input the allocated amount in the cell
Budget change from corporate headquarters. Enter budget decreases with negative numbers. Note that the
amount must be noted in thousands of dollars.
The instructor validates the budget change by entering his or her password in the CEO's signature field. Do
not worry if your instructor is not able to sign your budget increase before you transfer your decisions. He or
she can delay approval until all decisions from all teams are collected.
APPENDIX 1 INSTALLING MARKSTRAT TEAM SOFTWARE
The minimum computer configuration required to operate MARKSTRAT3 Team Software is the following:
• IBM-compatible personal computer
• Pentium processor
• 16 megabytes of memory
• Hard disk with at least 20 megabytes of available storage
• Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT4
• Laser or ink-jet printer (recommended)
Starting the Installation Procedure
If you have downloaded MARKSTRAT from the MARKSTRAT
web site, you should have received a self-extractable archive
file named "MARKSTRAT3 Team V3.XX" where 3.XX is the
version number. Double-click on this file to start the setup
procedure. The dialog box shown on the right pops up; click
on the Yes button and then refer to section Installing
If you are using a MARKSTRAT3 CD-ROM, the
setup procedure should start automatically when
you insert the CD-ROM in the drive. Otherwise,
click on the Start button and select Run... in
the Windows pop-up menu. The input box
shown on the right pops up; type D:SETUP,
where D is letter of your CD-ROM drive, in the
Open: cell and click on OK to start the setup
This section describes how to install MARKSTRAT3 on a stand-alone computer.
Shortly after you start the setup procedure as
explained above, the dialog box shown
below pops up allowing you specify in
which folder Markstrat3 should be installed.
The default folder is:
"C:\Program Files\StratX\Markstrat3 Team".
We strongly advise you to use this default
folder as it will make your life considerably
easier; for instance, future updates will
install automatically in the same folder;
similarly, communicating with the technical
assistance or reading the FAQs will be
simplified as all will refer to the default
installation folder. If you wish to install
Markstrat3 in another folder, click on the
Browse … button.
This actual installation starts when you click on the Next > button. MARKSTRAT3 files are copied into the
Binaries Application files, images, sound files, help files
Private Practice industry
Two of the files copied in the Binaries folder must be registered in the Windows registry. Windows must be
restarted at the end of the setup procedure to validate the installation. This is done automatically, as shown
The setup utility creates a shortcut called MARKSTRAT3 Team in a group called MARKSTRAT3 - By
StratX. Click on the Start button and then on the Programs menu to access to this shortcut and start
MARKSTRAT3, as shown below.
The setup utility installs MARKSTRAT3 with a default configuration that can be partially modified by
clicking on the small toolbox button located in the top right-hand corner of the screen. The dialog box
shown below pops up. The configuration includes the following elements:
Program Directory. This is
where MARKSTRAT3 read-only
files are stored: executable files,
images, sounds, etc. The
program directory may be
located on a local drive or on a
remote one. The program
directory can be changed only
by reinstalling the software.
Private Directory. This
directory, located on a local or
remote drive, is where private
files are stored: data files, Excel
reports, etc. At installation time,
the setup utility creates a sub-
folder named Private in the
folder that you specified for
MARKSTRAT3 (by default:
C:\Program Files\StratX\MARKSTRAT3 Team). We suggest that you not change the value of this directory,
unless you are asked to do so by your instructor. If you do need to change the private directory, click on the
Browse… button and select a new directory. Note that the instructor may prevent you from modifying the
configuration, in which case an error message will appear when you click on the Browse… button.
Instructor/Team exchange directory. This directory specifies how you will transfer data to and from your
instructor. If the exchange directory is A:\ or B:\, then data transfers are done with team diskettes. If the
exchange directory is located on a disk drive of a network server, then data transfers are done through the
network. We suggest that you not change the value of this directory, unless you are asked to do so by your
instructor. If you do need to change the private directory, click on the Browse… button and select a new
directory. Note that the instructor may prevent you from modifying the configuration, in which case an error
message will show up when you click on the Browse… button.
Language. This is the language used in the simulation. There are currently two languages available: English
Tool buttons are located at the top right-hand corner of the main window. They provide a quick access to
useful commands such as copy to clipboard or print current screen.
• Copy the current screen or chart to the clipboard.
• Access the current module's Print facility.
• Open the Configuration dialog box.
• Start the help facility.
• Display the MARKSTRAT3 information screen and play music if your computer is equipped
with a sound card.
MARKSTRAT3 documents can be printed on any Windows compatible printer. However, high quality and
fast printing will only be achieved with ink-jet or laser printers. Activate the MARKSTRAT3 Print facility
by clicking on the small printer button in the top right-hand corner of the Main Window. Depending on
which module you are currently working, pressing the print button will allow you to print different
• Interface module - print team report: company report, newsletter and market research studies;
• Decisions module - print decision related documents: summary of decisions and budget, detailed budget,
• Report, Newsletter, Market Studies and Analysis modules - print the currently displayed graph or chart.
APPENDIX 2 TIMETABLE
Please Note: This timetable is subject to change
Tue 28 Jan As part of lecture 1 Short introduction to Markstrat
Tue 4 Feb As part of lecture 2 Markstrat instruction 1
Hand in team composition form
Mon 10 Feb By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 1
Tue 11 Feb As part of lecture 3 Markstrat instruction 2
Mon 17 Feb By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 2
Mon 24 Feb By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 3
Mon 10 Mar By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 4
Hard copy to course office Submit marketing plan
Mon 17 Mar By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 5
Mon 20 Mar By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 6
Mon 24 Mar By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 7
Mon 27 Mar By e-mail, before 18:00 Submit decision 8
Mon 31 Mar Hard copy to course office Submit end-of-course reflection on marketing plan
APPENDIX 3 PRACTICE FILE
You are about to start a course using MARKSTRAT3. Before you begin working on the real data received
from your instructor, you can get to know this simulation with a demonstration data file named PRACTICE.
You can browse through the results of company E for the last 7 years and you can make decisions for year 8.
Company E is specialized in developing, manufacturing and marketing Sonites, a consumer durable good
comparable to an electronic entertainment product. More recently, it has diversified in a new product, the
Vodite. Coming from a basic technological breakthrough made in the space industry, Vodites satisfy an
entirely different need than that of the Sonites.
To open the PRACTICE data file, please follow the steps below.
• If you are still in front of the MARKSTRAT3 introduction screen, click on OK. With Windows 95, the
OK button may be partially hidden by the task bar.
• In the File menu, select ‘Open industry’.
• Select practice.mte in the left-hand side box; the cells on the right will be filled in automatically,
including the Password one.
• Click on ‘Open industry’.
You are ready to analyze the results of company E. Before, it is important to understand that
MARKSTRAT3 is organized in six main modules – Decisions, Report, Newsletter, Market studies, Analysis
and Interface – which you can activate by clicking on the buttons in the top bar.
For instance, click on the Analysis button. The menu below the top bar shows Market, Performance,
Benchmarking, ... Look at the Market graphs to get the big picture on the market evolution: size, growth and
price. Then use the Performance graphs to study the performances of the five competitors. You will see that
company E is experiencing some difficulties in sales and market share ...
The purpose of the other five modules is fully explained in the manual. At any time, you can print the current
graph or data table by clicking on the print facility button in the top-right corner, next to the date and time.
To print a complete company report, select the Interface module, click on the print facility button, input 1 in
the Number of copies, click on Complete output, uncheck Excel files only and finally click on Print.
APPENDIX 4 PROCEDURE FOR SUBMITTING YOUR DECISIONS
Preparing for the game:
1. Make sure you have one 3.5 inch floppy disk that you will use throughout the term as your designated
Markstrat simulation disk. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, keep a second disk with a backup, and keep
this backup up-to-date. It is advisable that all team members carry a disk with a copy of the simulation
data from the designated disk.
2. At the end of lecture 2, you have handed in your team composition form, via which you have provided
the lecturer with an e-mail address (as well as a backup e-mail address). The lecturer will use that e-mail
address to send the results of the simulation to all the teams after each simulation run. Make sure these
are e-mail addresses that work and that are read regularly!
3. All teams will receive their starting positions by e-mail as soon as the teams are formed. All data files
will be sent in a zip-file, so you need to make sure you have Winzip (or equivalent) at your disposal.
Winzip can be downloaded for free from the internet.
4. In order to upload the data, to make your decisions, and to transfer your decisions to the disk, you need a
computer with the Markstrat student software installed. The Markstrat software is installed on PCs in the
computer labs, and you can install it on your own PCs and laptops by downloading a free copy from
5. The Markstrat software comes with a practice industry. Build a competitive advantage by reading the
Markstrat manual you have received from the lecturer and by familiarising yourself with the software
and the types of decisions that need to be made.
Playing the game:
6. Unzip the files you have received from the lecturer and save them to your designated disk. Start up the
Markstrat software. Choose ‘Transfer results and default decisions from instructor’ in the interface menu.
You can do this on as many computers as you like, so that team members can work in parallel.
7. If possible, use one PC or laptop as your central computer. While team members can use any computer
with the Markstrat software installed to analyse information and ‘try out’ alternative decisions, this
central computer is used to bring all decisions together. Intermediate decisions can be saved on this
computer, and regular backups can be made.
8. Make sure you input your final decisions in one Markstrat session on a single computer. Insert your
designated disk and choose ‘Transfer decisions to instructor’ in the interface menu. NO OTHER
COMMAND WILL CREATE THE FILE THAT NEEDS TO BE SENT TO THE LECTURER.
9. From your designated disk, e-mail the most recently created file (a file named after your industry, with
the extension .dz followed by your team letter, e.g., JUPITER.dzO) to the lecturer at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This file does not have to be zipped.
10. Only when all files from all teams have been received, the lecturer can run the simulation, so please
respect the deadlines! Wait for the lecturer to send you the results and go back to step 6.