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Competitive Strategies Essays and Research Papers

Instructions for Competitive Strategies College Essay Examples

Essay Instructions: Econ/365 Principles of Microeconomics
Competitive Strategies and Government Policies
(Carnival Cruise Line)
Management has recognized the effect of changes in the real-world competitive environment and government policies on other industries and anticipates similar events occurring in their industry, so they ask you for a report considering the following points.
Write 1,500 word paper of no more than in which you describe how each of the following are or potentially will affect your industry or one with which you are familiar:
New companies entering the market, mergers, and globalization, on pricing and the sustainability of profits: Identify the type of merger activity in your industry or one with which you are familiar?horizontal, vertical, or conglomerate?and explain why you made that choice.
Current and expected government policies and regulations, including taxes and regulations in place to address issues related to externalities
Global competition on the decisions made by management with regards to change in labor demand, supply, relations, unions, and rules and regulations in your chosen industry
Recommend how the industry you chose may respond to each of the previous points.

Excerpt From Essay:

Essay Instructions: Assignment: Competitive Strategies
Choose an industry in which two or more companies has historically competed to maintain a significant share of the marketplace. These could include: coca-cola and Pepsi-cola, Apple and Micrsoft, GM and Ford Motor Company, or any other well-known pair of competitors.
1. Determine how each corporate culture differ from the other.
2. Analyze three (3) ways that each unique culture has benefited by the other's competition.
3.Speculate how each would continue to thrive if its current corporate culture would need to change in the near future. Be sure to state what changes you are speculating on and what led you to identify that possibility.

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: The Competitive Strategy of Kraft

Total Pages: 5 Words: 1777 Bibliography: 0 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: The Case in this course is an ongoing exercise, meaning that we will be taking an intensive look at one company over the course of our five modules. This session, we will be conducting a strategic analysis of the Kraft Foods Group. The best preparation for doing well on the Case Assignments is to complete the Background information reading and the SLP before writing the Case.

For this case, you will be identifying the primary business strategy employed by the Kraft Foods Group. You will also be providing a critical analysis evaluating that strategy in the context of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you identified in Modules 2 and 3.

Required Reading

Refer to the required and optional reading on strategic choices, the theme of Module 4.

Case Assignment

In a 5- to 7-page paper, respond to the following:
1.Which of the four generic (Porter) strategies does the Kraft Foods Group follow, and how do you know?
2.Integrate the strategy you've identified above with the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you identified in Modules 2 and 3. Doing so should give you some specific actions the company is taking relative to its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These actions are referred to as "strategic choices." Do the Kraft Foods Group's strategic choices align with the firm's generic strategy? If not, what are the points of disconnect? Think critically about this step, as no company achieves perfect alignment of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with its chosen strategy. It is your job to uncover the discrepancies and problems.
3.How can the Kraft Foods Group leverage its strengths and shore up its weaknesses by altering its strategic choices? How can the company take advantage of environmental opportunities and minimize environmental threats by altering its strategic choices? Be specific.
4.Complete the paper by commenting on how your view of the Kraft Foods Group's vision and mission has changed or has been reconfirmed by this process of strategic analysis. Would you make any suggestions to revise the company's mission or vision statements, or any of its goals/objectives?
5.Consider the Case as a formal business report that you are developing for the Board of Directors and CEO as the Kraft Foods Group's consultant. This is a professionaldocument. Follow the format below: ?Executive summary: This is a synopsis of the main points, conclusions, and recommendations made in the longer report. If you would like a refresher on writing an executive summary, check this website:
?Introduction: State the main purpose of the paper (thesis statement), what you hope to accomplish, and how you will go about doing it.
?Main Body: The "meat" of the paper. Emphasize analysis, not just description. Delineate separate topics or sections with headings.
?Conclusion: Summarize your paper in light of your thesis statement.

Assignment Expectations

Your paper will be evaluated using the following five (5) criteria:
?Assignment-Driven Criteria (Precision and Breadth): Does the paper fully address all Keys to the Assignment? Are the concepts behind the Keys to the Assignment addressed accurately and precisely using sound logic? Does the paper meet minimum length requirements?
?Critical Thinking (Critical Thinking and Depth): Does the paper demonstrate graduate-level analysis, in which information derived from multiple sources, expert opinions, and assumptions has been critically evaluated and synthesized in the formulation of a logical set of conclusions? Does the paper address the topic with sufficient depth of discussion and analysis?
?Business Writing (Clarity and Organization): Is the paper well written (clear, developed logically, and well organized)? Are the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary appropriate for graduate-level work? Are section headings included in all papers? Are paraphrasing and synthesis of concepts the primary means of responding to the Keys to the Assignment, or is justification/support instead conveyed through excessive use of direct quotations?
?Effective Use of Information (Information Literacy and References): Does the paper demonstrate that the student has read, understood and can apply the background materials for the module? If required, has the student demonstrated effective research, as evidenced by student?s use of relevant and quality (library?) sources? Do additional sources used in paper provide strong support for conclusions drawn, and do they help in shaping the overall paper?
?Citing Sources: Does the student demonstrate understanding of APA Style of referencing, by inclusion of proper end references and in-text citations (for paraphrased text and direct quotations) as appropriate? Have all sources (e.g., references used from the Background page, the assignment readings, and outside research) been included, and are these properly cited? Have all end references been included within the body of the paper as in-text citations?


In Module 4, we will concentrate our efforts on strategic alternatives at the corporate, business, and functional levels. Companies follow strategies at each of these levels, as well as at the global level.
?At the functional level, strategies are short term in nature, and refer to company functions such as marketing, manufacturing, materials management, customer service, and R&D.
?At the business level, strategies are of medium range. They include the company's market positioning, geographic locations, and distribution channels.
?At the corporate level, strategies are long term, and include options such as horizontal and vertical integration, diversification, strategic alliances, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Click on the link for a presentation on Strategic Choices by Professor Anastasia Luca.

Competitive Advantage

In this module, we will focus on the strategic options available to companies at the business level. Companies select business strategies to obtain Sustained Competitive Advantage (SCA) against competitors. SCAs are advantages that cannot be easily copied or imitated by competitors. A few years ago, strategists talked in terms of Porter's generic strategies (basically cost and differentiation). Today, we have four distinct strategies we use to analyze strategic options, although there are various approaches to achieving these strategies. They are:
?Cost Leadership
?Preemptive Move (or first-mover advantage)

Cost leadership

Most people think of economies of scale when they think of low-cost strategies. McDonald?s and Wal-Mart notwithstanding, high volume is not the only way to achieve low prices. Here are some other approaches to implementing a low-cost strategy:

No frills: Southwest Airlines eschewed big airports and cut costs by flying to smaller airports. Competitors such as Delta and American were too heavily invested in the hub business model to change.

Product design: Masonite developed an alternative to expensive wood products by using sawdust and woodchips. Some telecommunications companies "bundle" products, offering cable/satellite TV, high-speed Internet and telephone service for one low price. Hershey's shrank the chocolate bar to keep from raising its low price.

Operational economies: Firms can save money by eliminating high costs in the value chain. Amazon was able to significantly cut costs by eliminating physical stores, inventories, and cutting the 30% return rate of bookstores to just 3%.

Economies of Scale: With higher sales, fixed costs such as R&D, overhead, advertising, and even legal support can be spread over a larger revenue base.

Experience: Costs decline at a predictable rate with a firm?s accumulated experience. Such declines are attributed to the learning curve, technological improvements, and product redesign resulting in product and process efficiencies.

Here is another way of looking at low-cost strategies:

Algasae (n.d.) Promoting thought leadership ... Customer focused low-cost strategy. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Differentiation Strategies

If a company positions itself as offering a product or service that is different from its competitors in a way that customers value, it is following a differentiation strategy.

A successful differentiation strategy will create customer value that is perceived as such by the customer. Many so-called "new-and-improved" products have fallen flat because the customer simply didn't care. In addition, a successful differentiation strategy will only build Sustained Competitive Advantage to the degree that it is difficult to copy.

There are many ways to add value to any aspect of a business through differentiation:
?Ingredients/components: Healthier, "greener," longer-lasting ingredients/materials (e.g., Maytag appliances, Healthy Choice frozen dinners).
?Product offering: Better-designed products (e.g., BlackBerry touch screen, Dell ?Ultrabook" computers).
?Combining products: Two is better than one (e.g., Colgate 2 in 1 toothpaste and mouthwash).
?Added services: Extra services beyond the basic purpose of the product or service (e.g., concierge service with American Express cards).
?Breadth of Product Line: Extra convenience in dealing with fewer vendors (e.g., Wal-Mart offers one-stop shopping, eliminating the need to go to multiple stores).
?Channel: Offering items or services through a medium or channel unavailable in that form anywhere else (e.g., eBay offers instant access to hundreds of individuals worldwide, simultaneously or asynchronously).
?Design: Product or service is unique (e.g., bed-and-breakfasts offer a more ''homey" alternative to standardized hotel rooms).

In general, there are two ways to build SCA through differentiation strategies. Most of the methods of adding value mentioned above can be related to either quality or brand recognition.

Quality Strategy: In this type of differentiation, a company tries to set its product/service apart on the basis of superior quality. It is probably the most widely used method of attaining Sustained Competitive Advantage. Usually, quality means superior performance, and a premium brand as opposed to discount or economy brands. Such top-of-the-line offerings command a high price tag. However, quality does not always mean expensive. Both Mercedes (expensive) and VW (less expensive) connote high-quality German engineering.

Branding: Brands build SCA through customer familiarity, loyalty, and trust. Aspirin is aspirin, but Bayer continues to thrive against low-priced generics due to the power of the brand.

Blue Ocean: An Alternative Approach

A combination of low-cost and differentiation strategies has created a buzz in the recent business press. Known as "Blue Ocean" strategy, it is a new idea that challenges the standard classifications of strategy.

The following is the official Blue Ocean website. Check out some of the links to view the tools and frameworks for Blue Ocean strategic planning:

Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R. (2009), What is BOS? Nine key points of Blue Ocean Strategy. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Niche/Focus Strategies

Niche or Focus strategies are really variations of a cost or differentiation (or both) strategy, only concentrating the company's efforts on a single or limited product or market. By focusing its efforts, the firm is able to realize the following advantages:
?Avoid distraction or dilution: All of the firm?s efforts are directed toward a single end, and competitive pressures are diminished. All company resources and capabilities are matched to the market needs, creating SCA (remember RBV?).
?Maximize limited resources: When resources are tight, they will go farther and create a greater impact when the target is limited.
?Circumvent competitors? resources and capabilities: By operating in a niche market, say, private-label manufacturing, a firm does not have to contend with the big advertising and distribution capacities of the brand names. Competitive pressures are diminished overall as there are likely to be fewer competitors.
?Establish a unique identity: Offering a narrow product line, or operating in a limited geographic area can confer a certain cachet. In-N-Out Burger, for example, competes successfully with the huge fast food franchises by refusing to offer anything but hamburgers, made with the freshest site-prepared ingredients, in California, Nevada and Arizona only.

There are basically three ways a firm can establish a focus strategy. It can concentrate on one of these approaches, or a combination.

Focusing the product line: Firms that focus their product line often do so because they possess some expertise and special interest that often translates into technical superiority. These products excite and electrify. Take Bose Corporation, for example. It manufactures a small line of exceedingly high-quality audio products that are based on astonishing technology. If Bose broadened its offerings to all kinds of consumer electronics, it would run the risk of sliding into mediocrity with ho-hum products.

Targeting market segments: This is essentially "snob appeal" broadly defined. Gucci handbags target high-end fashionistas, Harley-Davidson targets rebellious non-conformists (at least in their own minds), and Castrol motor oil, which is not even sold in service stations, targets independent male do-it-yourselfers.

Limited geographic area: We have already considered In-N-Out Burger, but many other products are conferred a kind of cachet because you cannot get them just anywhere. Other examples include small breweries (e.g., Shiner Beers in Texas), coffee shops (independent and locally owned), or bakeries (Tim Hortons donuts in Canada and the northeast United States).

For another take on niche strategies, including some important caveats about potential pitfalls, read:

Iansiti, M. and Levien, R. (2004). Strategy for small fish. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Preemptive Strategy

By being the first entrant into a new market or business area, a firm can establish competencies or assets that competitors are not able to copy or develop on their own. The first-mover advantage can create high switching costs for customers, erect high barriers to entrance for competitors, and tie up contracts with suppliers. Thus, a preemptive strategy can confer SCAs both from internal and external sources.

Preemptive strategies are usually implemented in one of three ways:

Product opportunities: The first product offered in a new market can generate advantages in terms of dominant position that can be hard for competitors to later dislodge or overcome. A company can establish the "standard" for an industry, such as Intel did with microprocessors and Microsoft with operating systems. Of course, firms must continue investment in improvements lest an upstart come up with a "better mousetrap."

Production systems: When a firm invents a better or more efficient production system that expands capacity, reduces cost and/or improves quality, they have created SCA.

Customer advantages: First movers have an advantage with customers?creating brand loyalty and increasing switching costs. Customers become used to a familiar product or brand and see no reason to switch. Some companies get customers to make long-term commitments?as in long contracts for the latest in iPhone or BlackBerry technology. Banks may vie to get first-mover advantage in online banking because such systems involve substantial switching costs for customers who pay all their bills online. Here is a brief article discussing the first-mover advantage in practice:

Liang, T., Czaplewski, A., Klein, G., & Jiang, J. (2009). Leveraging First-Mover Advantages in Internet-based Consumer Services. Communications of the ACMe, 52(6), 146-148. Retrieved from EBSCO.

Required Reading

Algasae (n.d.) Promoting thought leadership...Customer focused low-cost strategy. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R. (2009), What is BOS? Nine key points of Blue Ocean Strategy. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Liang, T., Czaplewski, A., Klein, G., & Jiang, J. (2009). Leveraging First-Mover Advantages in Internet-based Consumer Services. Communications of the ACM, 52(6), 146-148. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from EBSCO.

Iansiti, M. and Levien, R. (2004). Strategy for small fish. Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. Retrieved on November 6, 2012, from:

Previous SLP:

Strategies for Kraft Foods
1. Introduction
The use of the different analytical models on Kraft Foods may be brought together on a table, using a SWOT analysis as the basis, and identifying a major factor from one of the models that may be assessed within the context of the different competitive strategies that may be adopted.
2. The SWOT Analysis
Looking first at the strengths; the firs has many One which may be particularly valuable in terms of the development of competitive advantageous the research and development expertise that exists within the firm. This has been drawn from the Resource Based View (RBV) of the firm, as one of the human resources that are available.
The weakness chosen for the analysis is the high level of substitutability, taken from the Porters five forces analysis. The goods that are sold by Kraft can be easily substituted with other goods, for example, the packet of Kraft macaroni cheese, which is an easy meal to cook could be substituted with a non Kraft frozen TV diner, the Kraft Miracle Whip may be substituted with mayonnaise, thousand island dressing other dressings/sauces. For each product there are other products that will serve the same purpose, which are sold in the same shops, and easily accessible due to low switching barriers.
The opportunity selected is the economic influences from the PEST analysis. The current economic conditions show there is a recovery, which is increasing the potential level of disposable income in consumers. The interest rates are also remaining low, so this may also provide Kraft with opportunities for increased investment due to the low cost of capital in a marketplace that is showing an upturn.
The threat used is the high level of rivalry from Porters five forces model. The market is one that is highly competitive, with firms competing aggressively, and other major large firms also in the market, which also have significant financial resources to compete and may seek to gain better spaces on shop shelves.
Table 1; SWOT Analysis and competitive strategies
Lost cost Differentiation Focus Pre-emptive
Strength; Human Resources, specifically R&D personnel (RBV) Research into manufacturing process to reduce costs Improve product ranges and create new marketing to emphasize the differences Create brand extensions to specialist products Develop new product categories to gain first mover advantage
Weakness; High substitutability (Porters 5 forces) Decrease price on selected elastic goods to increase sales and revenue and gain, increase economies of scale Implement a loyalty program to increase repeat purchases Develop product for categories which are underserved Pursue blue ocean strategy
Opportunity; Economic influences (PEST) Investment in new process to reduce overhead costs Investment in marketing and promotions Expand into luxury market Expansion into new markets
Threat; High level of rivalry (Porters 5 forces) Aggressive with price penetration strategy to increase economies of scale Develop product improvements and increase marketing emphasis on the uniqueness Market expansion into underserved niche segments Blue ocean strategy

3. The Potential Strategies
Reading across the table, the different strategies which maybe used to address each SWOT factor for the different strategies may be briefly explained.
3.1 Strategies for Strengths
The different business strategies for each of the competitive strategies are all built on the strength of human resources, in the form of the research and development knowledge and expertise that is in the firm. For the low cost strategy the research and development resources will be used to develop new manufacturing processes which will help to reduce overhead costs (Mintzberg et al., 2011). A low cost strategy for the pursuance of cost advantage requires an organization to enhance operating efficiency, which will help to improve the underlying profits (Mintzberg et al., 2011). Increasing operating efficiency can new developments will not only improve cost efficiency, internally developed strategies will also be difficult for other firms to emulate in order to gain the same advantages. With low costs the improve profit may be used to support sales in other ways, for example increasing marketing.
The differentiation strategy may be supported through the core activities of the research and development department, increasing the level of differentiation by improving the existing product ranges, and developing new characteristics or features which appeal to the target market, which may be supported through additional marketing messages. Research and development capabilities may also support the focus strategy, with the creation of brand extensions creating specialist products that will appeal to small or niche markets, for example flavored lactose free macaroni cheese. The pre-emptive strategy may be facilitated through research and development to identify and create new product categories that will enable the organization to gain a first mover advantage (Kotler & Keller, 2011).
3.2 Strategies to Minimize Weakness
The main weakness identified with Kraft Foods was the high level of substitutability for the products. For the low cost strategy it was suggested that selected goods which have a high level of price elasticity are reduced in price, this may benefit the organization as a decrease in price for elastic products is likely to disproportionately increase sales (Kotler & Keller, 2011) Increasing market share in the short term may also lead to long-term gains. Differentiation could be supported through the introduction of a loyalty program, such as collecting tokens of packaging to send off for complimentary products. This would encourage repeat purchases, and therefore reduce the potential for substitution. The recommendation for a focus strategy is the development of products which are targeting markets, or product categories, where there is currently only a low level of competition. These tend to be small or niche markets, and therefore there would be fewer potential acceptable substitutes, and it would be possible for this to be developed still based on the strength of the research and development department. A pre-emptive strategy with the entrance to a new market, where there is currently no existing competition for the products that are launched into that market (Mintzberg et al., 2011). This may have some risk, but could be an effective strategy is dealing with substitutability.
3.3 Strategies to Use Opportunities
The opportunity is stated as the economic condition. The growth in the economy, which may see increased demand, as well as low interest rates which makes raising capital relatively low cost may provide opportunities. For the local strategy taking advantage of low interest rates in order to make investments before new production facilities, or to support research into new processes, could be very productive in the long-term, to produce the organization's overheads. Increased differentiation could be facilitated by higher level of spending on marketing and promotions, which may also benefit from the higher level of disposable income due to the economic upturn. Increased disposable income may also facilitate expansion with the development of new brands into the niche luxury markets, supporting a focus strategy. The economic upturn is not seem just in the United States, but may be seen elsewhere, so expansion into new markets may also provide opportunities to increase sales.
3.4 Strategies for Threats
Kraft Foods operates in a highly competitive marketplace, so the threat for the SWOT analysis was the high level of rivalry, which is part of porters five forces analysis. Within the low cost strategy, the adoption of a price penetration strategy for some of the products would help the organization to increase sales, and can also facilitate the gaining or increase of economies of scale (Kotler & Keller, 2011). The differentiation strategy may be pursued with the research and development department undertaken further product improvements, and investments within marketing to emphasize the uniqueness of the products, using both tangible and intangible characteristics. The focus strategy may be supported through market expansion into underserved niche segments, where a high level of competition has not been established. The pre-emptive strategy may include the blue ocean strategy, the continued pursuance of innovation and first mover strategy may also be incorporated here.
4. Conclusion
Kraft Foods have a number of potential options which could be utilized to pursue the different types of strategies, building on strengths, helping to minimize weaknesses, taking advantage of opportunities, and reduce the potential impact of threats. The use of the research and development department to help develop new products, improve existing products, as well as investigate better ways of producing the existing goods may satisfy multiple goals. Blue ocean strategy may overcome issues such as higher levels of competition, but there is also risk and blue ocean strategy, as an underdeveloped market may be underdeveloped for a reason; for example there is insufficient demand for a desirable level of profit to be realized. The different elements are all interconnected, and this analysis demonstrates the way in which analysis should be considered and interpreted in interconnected manner.


Kraft Foods, (2014), Form 10k, accessed at on 29th September 21014

Kraft Foods, (2014), accessed at on 29th September 2014

Kotler, P, Armstrong, G, (2013), Principles of Marketing, Pearson

Mintzberg Henry, Ahlstrand Bruce, Lampel Joseph B. (2011), Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide Through the Wilds of Strategic Management, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Aligning competitive strategy with the external environment

Total Pages: 4 Words: 1172 Sources: 0 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: In a 4 page paper, explain:

The author's position, methods, and results.

Are you surprised by his conclusions and why.

Is there anything in his methods that may account for this conclusion?

The goal of any organization and particularly health care organizations lies in aligning competitive strategy with the external environment. Environmental scanning, then, allows the strategic planner to understand opportunities, align strategy to take advantage of them, and maintain an awareness of potential market threats.

Among other things, the article linked below asks the following question:

"What relationship is there between the CEO's frequency and scope of scanning and the alignment of the company's competitive strategy with the stage of the industry life cycle in which it competes?"

In the scanning process there are two important elements, scope and frequency. The author suggests that, in his study of small businesses, environmental scanning seems to be effective in terms of scope, but there was no support for his hypothesis that frequency of scanning has any effect on the alignment of strategy with the external environment.

In a tone of surprise, the author says:

"The absence of any significant, positive relationships between- the various frequency of scanning indices and external alignments was totally unexpected."

Are you surprised by this result?

Please read the article linked below
Competing effectively: Environmental scanning, competitive strategy, and organizational performance in small manufacturing firms. Journal of Small Business Management; Milwaukee; Jan 2000; Reginald M Beal; Click here.

Abstract: Environmental scanning is generally viewed by strategic management scholars as a prerequisite for formulating effective business strategies. Moreover, effective scanning of the environment is seen as necessary to the successful alignment of competitive strategies with environmental requirements and the achievement of outstanding performance. This study of small manufacturing firms competing in a wide variety of industries examines the effects of the frequency in scope of environmental scanning on environment-competitive strategy alignment. Results suggest that obtaining information on several aspects of specific environmental sectors facilitates alignment between some competitive strategies and environments, whereas the frequency of scanning has no effect on such alignment.

Excerpt From Essay:

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