Brand Strategizing with Scenario Planning: Irma in China

Michelle Stender Albrechtsen & Sofie Balslev Petersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the past 20 years, Chinese e-commerce has experienced a rapid growth. As a result of the growing upper middle class, the consumption in China has made extensive progress and an increasing number of Chinese consumers are opting for foreign products. Further, it seems that the Chinese upper middle class is increasingly demanding premium products at large. This has resulted in a rise within cross-border e-commerce platforms and a great incentive for premium foreign companies and brands in trying to supply the Chinese consumers. The growth in e-commerce and rise in consumption in China has inevitably resulted in both opportunities and challenges for companies entering the market. One of the challenges relates to market navigation. Thus, predicting the direction of the growth and how the consumption behaviour develops continuously, can pose a great challenge for foreign companies to strategize from. Adding to this challenge, there exists a lot of uncertainty in a growing market like China, and uncertainty is often complex for companies to navigate around. Another main challenge for foreign companies entering the Chinese e-commerce market is branding. Building a trusted premium brand is essential to tap into the upper middle class consumers, who put great pride in being associated with the premium products, which they consume. Based on Danish premium retail brand, Irma’s entry into the Chinese e-commerce market, this qualitative thesis study reflects upon the implications related to branding in an uncertain environment. Subsequently, the theoretical concept of scenario planning was integrated in this thesis study. This accommodates foreign companies with a theoretical framework to navigate in complex and uncertain markets like the Chinese. Traditional scenario planning is known as a highly complex strategizing process. It is used to obtain an adjustable and scenario-based strategy fit for coping with uncertainties in the business environment. To comply with the empirical objective of building Irma’s brand in China, the branding perspective was chosen as the relevant extent to simplify and further scenario planning towards being applicable in a scenario-based branding strategy. The theoretical analysis and discussion of secondary data was initiated with a narrative examination of scenario planning and its theoretical development over time. Thus, providing the thesis study with a basis for furthering the concept of scenario planning. With the empirical study objective in mind, brand awareness and brand trust was chosen as the appropriate brand extensions 2 to further scenario planning in a branding perspective. From assessing the theoretical furthering, a hypothesis was derived abductively; H1, A brand entering a new market will benefit from applying a scenario-based branding strategy. In the empirical analysis and discussion, the theoretical hypothesis was applied. Here, both primary and secondary data was examined. The timely aspect, internal/external aspect and element of uncertainty about Irma’s brand entry into China was analysed and discussed through a SWOT analysis and a TOWS matrix. Ultimately, a scenario-based branding strategy was derived. This thesis study concludes that scenario planning can be furthered in a branding perspective. From the examination of Irma in China, it is concluded that Irma would benefit from applying scenario-based branding strategy, when seeking to build brand awareness and brand trust in China.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages166