The market strategies alternatives of an e-business start-up in Brazil

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Castro, Luciano Thomé e
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The e-business market is one of the fastest growing markets in Brazil, with e-business sales accounting for BRL 14.8 billion in 2010 and a growth of 40% per year (+1000% over the past 7 years). Sales-event clubs and collective bargaining websites are one of the most dynamic segments of the e-business market: the number of new players is increasing rapidly, with over 1200 collective bargaining websites currently operating in Brazil. In that context, growth and differentiation seem to be two key success factors for Coquelux. According to webshopper (23rd Edition, e-bit), growth can be achieved by targeting middle and low-income consumers from class C, who represent 50% of the total e-commerce sales. But Coquelux, which is specialized in desire and luxury brands, has built its reputation and competitive advantage through its 'exclusivity', by targeting wealthier consumers from classes A and B who are attracted by its fashionable and high-end positioning. The evolution (growth?) of this market and the development of its competition naturally raise a strategic question for Coquelux’s managers: can Coquelux grow and still maintain its competitive advantage? Should it grow by expanding its consumer base to class C? If so, how? Consumers from classes A, B or C must be targeted through the same online communication channels. Recent studies from the ABEP/ABIPEME emphasized the importance of social networks as a tool for converting new clients and gaining their loyalty, regardless of their social class. However, high-income and low-income e-consumers do not have the same consumption habits, do not respond to the same type of marketing strategies, and most importantly, do not share the same values. Thus, it seems difficult to expand Coquelux’s consumer base to class C without changing its marketing strategies and altering its image Three options were identified for Coquelux: reinforcing its leadership on the luxury segment and focusing on a small niche market (1), which would threaten its survival in the long run; completely changing its strategy and competing for a mass market through commercial brands (2), which requires major financial investments that managers don’t have access to; or finding an intermediary solution (3). This thesis’ recommendation for the third option consists in focusing on premium brands (rather than luxury) in order to increase sales volume (Coquelux’s most profitable sales happened with local desire brands) with products that appeal to class B but also attract the emerging class C which is looking for brand recognition. It could thus implement a slow entry strategy towards the mass market without damaging its main competitive advantage.

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