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  INITIAL QUESTION: 

A friend has approached you with a business idea. She asks for your assistance with figuring out who might be willing to shop at the new business. The Bark and Brew is a coffee/tea shop similar to a Starbucks; however, there is a twist: dogs are welcome. The plan is to carry products that will cater to dogs as well as humans, including drinks and snacks. The intent is not compete with pet stores but to compete with coffee shops. Based on this business idea, consider how you would use marketing research and competitive analysis to assist your friend in determining its viability. 

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In the determination of opening the Bark and Brew Café, you decide to complete a competitor analysis. Would you use a product form or a product category competition analysis? Why? What would be the source of your information?

RESPONSE:

This business idea is unique in its purpose as well as the competitors it is targeting. For this business venture, I think that there are not going to be many historical information sources to learn from. To start, there is some information that would be needed. As the text states, the standard approach is to do six things; define the problem, determine information needs, what type of study, data collection, data analysis and conclusions and lastly reporting  (Winer & Dhar, 2011). After determining this, it will be important to determine the source of information for the research. Personally, I feel as if the product category competition analysis would be more effective. I feel this way because I do not think that the product itself is what positions this business. The differentiation is not with the product that is being offered but more with the service and the experience that the business provides. For example, Starbucks is known for its tremendous brand awareness and it is functional for someone who wants to get in and out with their coffee as quickly as possible or to stay and link to the free WIFI and work or do whatever they please. This makes Starbucks appealing to its customers. They are also known for their variety of flavors.

Bark and Brew is a competitor to coffee shops over pet stores due to the product portfolios. As stated, Bark and Brew is a coffee shop that also serves snacks and drinks for pets. Pet stores sell the more traditional products such as pet food, toys, medicine accessories etc. With all this said, that does not mean that Bark and Brew can serve sub-par coffee products to people just because they allow dogs to come in. I think for the business to be successful; it will need to draw a correlation (if one exists) between pet owners and coffee drinkers. Bark and Brew will need to determine the sources for the product category competition analysis. Three good sources of competitive analysis are the competitor’s website, the human network and the competitor’s digital network (Shenoy, 2011). A lot of information is right there in front of you for the most part and can be found on the competitor’s website. Information such as who they target, their mission and vision statement, product line etc. The human network can really mean a lot of things, Shenoy makes mention of interviewing a former employee of the competitor to see what you can learn about the business (Shenoy, 2011). Digital networks can be anything from the Facebook page of the competitor or the Twitter account all the way to independent online blogs. Another source of information can be 3PL providers utilized by the competition. These companies are competitive just like anyone else and will generally talk unless they are unable due to contractual reasons.

In addition to having all the aforementioned information; I think that it is important to make that correlation between the two pieces of the value proposition that brings the business idea full circle; coffee drinkers and dog owners. I think that surveys are a great way to gain information. The entrepreneurial friend in this situation could solicit information from dog owners in dog parks as well as solicit survey participants outside of coffee establishments, especially in something like a mall setting where people are more likely to not be in a hurry. In my opinion, it needs to be understood that the target consumer is likely a small pool of people. The service is very targeted to a specific consumer. For example, a coffee shop targets coffee drinkers, whether they are pet owners or not is irrelevant. Bark and Brew is attempting to penetrate that consumer pool even further. I am concerned with limitations to the growth of the business as there is the possibility that people who do not own dogs may not want to be in a coffee shop full of dogs. Being that Bark and Brew has decided to compete with coffee shops, this creates a barrier to being able to capitalize on the consumer pool. I do feel like this is a unique idea and depending on the goal of the business and its overall strategy, providing this service may be more aligned with fulfilling a passion by the owner that also provides a source of income. I think the potential is there, but I think that they will be limited to how large they can grow.

Works Cited

Shenoy, G. (2011, February 26). 3 sources for competitive anaylsis. Retrieved from www.productmanagementtips.com: https://productmanagementtips.com/2011/02/26/competitive-analysis-sources/

Winer, R. S., & Dhar, R. (2011). Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. Retrieved 08 29, 2019