Week 2 - Marketing Plan: Phase IIntroductionExxonMobil, a worldwide leader in the oil industry, must continuously seek out opportunities for new and better means of acquiring alternative fuel for its customers to remain a leading competitor. As un-renewable crude oil demands increase, sources are increasingly depleted and no longer a viable option as a source of energy. It is prudent for companies such as ExxonMobil prepare for the inevitable future.
Biodiesel is a renewable source of energy. Comprised of organic materials and methanol or ethanol, it is a potential means of solving for the inevitable question consumers are facing worldwide, 'What do we do when we run out of gas?' It is crucial that ExxonMobil as a leader in the fuel industry seek out the true potential of biodiesel.
Company Overview125 years ago, ExxonMobil was a regional marketer of kerosene in the United States and has grown to become the largest publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical company in the world, and has 80,786 employees (exxonmobil.com). The company explores and produces acreage in 36 countries, has production operations in 24 countries and manufactures an average of 4.2 million barrels of oil for sale a day (exxonmobil.com). Through ExxonMobil's research programs and initiatives, the company is continually exploring energy sources and technologies to grow the company and protect the environment.
Defining the ProductBiodiesel is defined as "a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources". It contains no petroleum, but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create the biodiesel blend." (Chemicel Biotech Limited, 2005) This blend of fuel can be used in diesel type engines with slight or no adjustment. Biodiesel is very easy to utilize, its eco-friendly, non-hazardous, and absolutely free of fragrance. Biodiesel is produced through a procedure of transpiration where the separation of glycerin from fat or vegetable oil takes place. This reaction makes two products: biodiesel and glycerin.
Today people look at the possibilities of manufacturing biodiesel as a new concept that will provide a cleaner environment as well as a more economical economy, as gas is linked to many other industries. (Alternative Energy, 2006).
Marketing and SuccessThe marketing efforts for biofuels will need a strategy to educate the people of its pros and cons. The positive aspect of biofuels needs to be marketed with great energy to the target market and to define the key elements of biofuels to the consumer. ExxonMobil's marketing debut will be to build a long term business relationship with their customers.
ExxonMobil must differentiate biodiesel from other fuels and establish a clear and viable alternative for our target markets. ExxonMobil will continue to produce high quality fuel, offer competitive price at the level of the conventional diesel fuel, and create strong distribution channels to ensure stability of production, emphasize key advantages of our product, and focus on fuel distributors and big consumers as key target markets (Business Plan).
The main key of the strategy is how ExxonMobil is going to reach out to the consumers. Exxon will need to rely on media, newspaper, flyers and billboards to continue to educate the consumers on biofuels. ExxonMobil will need to have a field day across the nation of giving to their customers' free biofuel to test in their own vehicles. Making sure that customer's service is reached will be important to ExxonMobil, so that the customer will continue to return. Competitive advantages of superior products, global scale, rapid deployment of best practices and focused marketing strategies, ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing is a formidable competitor in this dynamic marketplace (ExxonMobil, 21st Century).
StrengthsStrengths that have been identified are:1.COGS, (cost of goods sold) in relation to profit is expected to be high2.Marketability: new visual technology is needed3.Low Market Competition as few companies are ventured into this field4.Latent DemandWeaknessesWeaknesses that have been identified:1.Education of customers about biofuels.
2.Maintaining customer satisfaction for continued use of ExxonMobil stations.
3.Limitation of ExxonMobil stations.
4.Maintaining demand of biofuels at ExxonMobil stations.
OpportunitiesThe opportunities for alternative sources of fuel are being explored to reduce greenhouse gas or CO2 emissions that threaten nations for clean water and air. Numerous companies, government and other world agencies are now recognizing the need for companies like ExxonMobil, to produce liquid fuel sources through the use of organic matter.
Cost opportunities to produce biodiesel from different sources of feedstock and plant oils compared to conventional gasoline production which has a direct impact on future water availability and clean air. Further research on alternative sources will also increase better blends of biodiesel for automobiles. New research and production to develop alternative biofuel is vital to meet the growing global energy demands while reducing the impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the changing world.
ThreatsCost is most likely the biggest threat to a marketing plan for biodiesel. One might think the alternative fuel created from vegetable or plant oil is going to be a more cost effective route. However, the price of soybean oil, the most common feedstock for biodiesel in the United States, is rising at a fast pace making the price of biodiesel even more expensive. In March of 2008, diesel was at $3.31 and biodiesel was costing $4.64 (USNEWS.COM, 2008). Therefore while biodiesel is a noble idea and much better for the environment then petroleum diesel, it still is not cost efficient to create.
TrendsTo meet the global supply and demand of growing energy needs, ExxonMobil and other energy supplying companies will need to expand technological and alternative sources for fuel. This advancement allows ExxonMobil to compete as a leader for global energy supply. The research and development globally positions the organization to identify and develop sources "to meet the energy demand which is expected to grow by 50% by the year 2030" (ExxonMobil, 2006). Biodiesel production is expected to continue growing as global concerns for cleaner water and air remains to be an issue.
The economic needs and growth in developing countries will have a dramatic impact on the production of alternative sources for fuel. ExxonMobil must be able to anticipate and become an active participant to anticipate the global changes and trends. The future environment benefits and technological advancements are necessary for ExxonMobil and other similar companies to improve on biodiesel energy source production and keeping up with the global economic progress.
Research ApproachSeveral approaches for researching the relationship between consumers and biodiesel may be taken by the company. ExxonMobil must investigate if consumers are ready to transition away from crude oil and embrace biodiesel.
Several factors may influence consumer reaction such as product price, inconvenience due to the lack of availability, costs of upgrading technology from operating crude oil machines to biodiesel, lack of knowledge, and more. The objective of ExxonMobil's research should focus on understanding the market potential and consumer attitude of those who would buy the product. ExxonMobil will need to develop a way to encourage consumers to purchase biodiesel.
Both primary and secondary data can be used for research purposes. "Secondary data consist of information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose" and would be useful due to it could provide ExxonMobil with information about the number of cars currently operated, worldwide crude oil demand, and success rates of biodiesel countries. This information could be very useful for ExxonMobil, especially when trying to convince consumers that the benefits of biodiesel far exceed those of crude oil (Armstrong, 2005, pg 115).
Secondary data could also point ExxonMobil towards regions with higher support for environmentally friendly products due to government support.
Primary data will be a main component for the research stage. While secondary data will give ExxonMobil a glimpse of the potential biodiesel has, primary research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges the company faces. Some of the research approaches the company may employ could be a combination of, surveys, focus groups, and observation.
Surveys would be a good starting point for ExxonMobil to collect primary data. They are a useful means of data collecting for "A company that wants to know about people's knowledge, attitudes, preferences, or buying behavior…" (Armstrong, 2005, pg 118). It is very important that ExxonMobil collect this type of information given that biodiesel is a fairly new product. ExxonMobil will need to know how much consumers have learned about the product and how much the company needs to invest in educating consumers.
Focus groups are another research approach ExxonMobil could use for developing a marketing strategy. The use of focus groups could allow marketers to gain access to conversations by group participants in regards to their feelings and concerns towards the product. The findings from these focus groups could be used to enhance those findings of the surveys.
ExxonMobil could look into observations of both foreign countries already using biodiesel and those countries in the beginning stages of introducing the alternative fuel. This technique could give the company important insight as on techniques that work and current implementation challenges.
ConclusionClearly, changes need to be made for the sake of our environment and the idea behind alternative fuel sources is noble. However, this is not an easy task and many challenges stand in the way. There are many pros and cons to using this alternative source and our task is to create a marketing plan that will put ExxonMobil in the best light and help push our new product. We know what the customer is looking for and in order to deliver, all avenues must be explored and market research will be key. The goal of ExxonMobil is to stay on top of the ever-changing market at provide a service and product that is second to none.
ReferencesAlternative Energy (2006) Advantages of biodiesel fuel for transportation. Retrieved February 1, 2009 from: http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/advantages-biodiesel-fuel-transportation/Armstrong, G. (2005). Marketing: An introduction. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Retrieved January 30, 2006, from University of Phoenix, rEsource MKT412 - Marketing course web site.
Business Plan, Retrieved February 1, 2009 from: http://education.kulichki.net/bp/Biodiesel.htmChemicel Biotech Limited (2005) Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Government of India. Retrieved February 1, 2009 from: http://www.chemcelbiotechltd.com/bio_diesel.aspExxonMobil. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from: http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/default.aspxExxonMobil (2006). Tomorrow's Energy: A Perspective on Energy Trends, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Future Energy Options. Retrieved on January 31, 2009 from http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/corporate/tomorrows_energy.pdf.
ExxonMobil Global Capabilities for the 21st Century, Retrieved on February 1, 2009 fromhttp://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Newsroom/Publications/XOMGlobalCap/index.htmlLavelle, M. (2008). Beyond the Barrel: Going Biodiesel Is No Cheap Alternative. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from www.usnews.com.