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merchandise and products for the home throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland using various retail formats (HRG, 2008). Argos majors in home enhancement products, electrical goods, toys, jewellery, sports and leisure equipment with electrical goods making up 50% of its sales mix. Argos intends to capitalize on customers need for HDTV compatible equipments as government intends to change fully to digital signal by the end of 2012. The major challenge is designing a package that will be appealing enough to get customers to change their old TVs for a new HDTV ready TV set in the face of deepening economic turmoil and uncertainty about when it will end. Argos has decided to capitalize on the two major months (December and January) when customers are expected to trade the most to take advantage of customers already formed habit of trading during these seasons. Differentiating and positioning itself on superior (value) service and empathy for customers, Argos intends to synchronize its marketing and communications efforts effectively to be able to achieve its goal of increasing market share and holding its former customer base.
To take advantage of the full switch-over to digital signal, Argos has decided to capitalize on the two major months (Dec, Jan) when customers are expected to trade the most. Argos will be holding its present customer base and building new market share through various promotional and advertising strategies. Considering the present state of the economy, Argos has decided to focus on the segment that seems most profitable while relying on its P-O-S displays and advertising to bring in other customers as a spill-over effect of advertising is bound to happen. Argos major challenge is to convince its customers who already possess a TV set to change it for an advanced HDTV ready/iDTV TV set. The present price wars in the retailing market have to be avoided. Argos already sells at a low price and consequently, entering into such wars may hurt the company as it might be forced to cut price below cost price. Argos is a multi-channel retailer recognised for choice, value and convenience that sells general merchandise and products for the home to its numerous customers. 1.1 CORPORATE MISSION
Argos’ mission is to be a leading retailing group that offers customers a broad range of products that is relevant to their present needs through various payment and retail channel option at a comparatively better price than its competitors.
EXTERNAL AUDIT Political Factors – The government of UK intends to change its old television
broadcast signal from analogue to digital (digital switchover). It will have achieved this in every region by the end of 2012. As a result, everybody is obliged to ensure that they either upgrade their television sets or buy a new one if they want to continue receiving television broadcast after the switchover is completed. 2.2 Economic Factors – There is presently an economic crisis in the country majorly due
to weakening property markets, a global credit crisis and high commodity costs (BBC, 2008). Unemployment rate is at 5.8% (Financial Times, 2008) and projected to rise significantly to over 8% by end of 2009 (OECD cited in BBC, 2008). Inflation is presently at 4.5% and Interest rate has been cut to 2% on 4th of December (Bank of England, 2008). Banks are currently withdrawing on the amounts they lend out even though the lending rate has been said to drop (BBC, 2008) Speculations of the severity of the economic crisis is making consumers spend less, withdraw from “premiumisation” and some delay purchases as the pattern has been in previous recessions in the hope that product prices will still come down further. (Timesonline, 2008). This “delayed spending” coupled with declining inflation is a threat as they could further worsen the economic downturn (BBC, 2008). 2.3 Socio-cultural factors – the most obvious lifestyle change is cocooning. Job loss,
economic crisis, devaluation of the pound, expensive abroad vacation prices (which has been reflected in an 8% drop in Air traffic (Financial Times, 2008)) are together pushing more people to stay indoors. It has consequently had an effect on the demand for consumer electronics such as flat-screen TVs and surround sound systems (GMID, 2008). 2.4 Technological Factors – Government has decided to change to digital transmission
because it offers more services than analogue and allows households to pick digital stations with ordinary aerials (DigitalTelevision, 2008). This is forcing flat screens out of market because they are not HDTV compatible.
MICRO ENVIRONMENT Market - Increase in sales of Digital TVs, especially HDTVs is forecasted to increase
as they are not yet common in UK households (GMID, 2008). This increase is expected to also cause an increase in the sales of complementary products such as digital boxes, receivers, digital video recorders, etc. Volume sales of televisions and projectors in 2007 grew by 4.7% in the UK mostly due to declining unit prices and switch to digital formats. HDTVs registered a volume sales growth of 42.6% over the prior year (GMID, 2008). Digital TV has a market share of over 43% as of 2007 with CRT format television having about 57% of the television market in the UK. LCD and plasma formats represent 22.1% and 18.4% of the market respectively (GMID, 2008). TV manufacturer, Philips had the highest share in the TV market during 2002 – 2006 with Sony and Panasonic following closely behind. Others include Samsung, JVC, Sharp and LG. Sharp and LG recorded the highest growth which was reckoned to the fact that they focused on HDTVs which they sold at a comparable cheaper price than the leading manufacturers (GMID, 2008). UK population with digital service is at 86% with 37% digital terrestrial, 36% digital satellite and 13% digital cable (OFCOM, 2008). 75% of the population of Yorkshire has digital TV service. Prior to the digital switch over, digital service can be received now using either a CRT or a “HDTV ready” TV set. However, digital TV service should not be mistaken for Digital TV or HDTV sets. 3.2 Competitors
Major competitors include, Tesco, Asda, PC World and Curry’s, and online retailer Amazon.co.uk. All competitors have internet presence. Tesco recently has been trying to imitate Argos’ retailing style with its Tesco direct catalogue and in-store shops. The financial crisis is making it difficult for businesses to gain access to credit and so ease of entry into the retailing market is tougher than before. The need to establish sourcing and distribution operations on a scale required to be competitive in the long term in the face of a
weakening currency is another potential barrier. This is necessary because economies of scale is key to generating attractive customer propositions as well as operational cost. 3.3 Customer – consumers’ income is contracting and so buying pattern is changing
(Financial Times, 2008; GMID, 2008). Customers are now turning to cheaper options (about 41%) and buying less of premium products (34%) (ONS, 2008) to maximize their decreasing purchasing power. Many may delay their Christmas purchases in the hope of last-minute discounts (Times, 2008) The middle-aged and couples without kids (dinks) with higher dispensable income and strong spending power (in the past) has been purchasers of premium brands (GMID, 2008). They are more likely to live in houses (instead of apartments or rented houses) and therefore spend more to equip their homes. They are more likely than the younger age groups to watch television using a television set instead of online (GMID, 2008) using computers which are substitutes to TV sets. Yorkshire and the Humber have a population of 5,142,000 (with 2,170,000 households). 34.9% are ABC1, and 52.5% are classified as C2DE. 2,440,000 of the people of working age (47.5% of total population) make up the Yorkshire and the Humber’s labour force. (ONS, 2008). Households in the region with married/cohabiting couples who have no child or dependent kids is at 35.2% (763,840) (ONS, 2008).
Argos’ aims to increase market shares by expanding its retail outlets and offering a cheaper offer for branded products. This it achieves by; (1) Selling existing product in new market – e.g. India (2) Market penetration – by expanding and using multiple retail outlets (3) Backward integration – by acquiring Alba and Bush brand names Argos’ sales record shows a decent growth in profit since the past three years. This year it recorded a second quarter loss in total sales of 1.6% (a like-for-like sales drop of 5.8%) despite opening nine new stores and relocation of two (Mintel, 2008; PCRetail news, 2008).
Current Market Segment
By using different retail formats and carrying a very wide range of products (19000 products across 13 categories), Argos is positioned using a differentiated market (segmented) strategy. However, on one hand its low price caters for value-conscious customers while its branded product line is able to meet the demands of customers who are style/brand conscious. 4.2 Product Offering
Argos product line for television is divided into 6 (Argos, 2008). These include; Combis (TVs with inbuilt DVD players) TV packages (TVs with cabinet stands) Traditional TVs (CRT TVs and flat screens) LCD TVs Plasma TVs Projectors
All TV mixes come in different screen sizes (14” – 52”) and brand (Sony, Panasonic, LG, Sharp, Wharfedale, Philips, Samsung, JVC). Other related products and accessories include; DVD packages (DVD, Blu-ray and video recorders and players) Digital TV packages (Digital TV recorders, boxes, aerials and digital satellite receivers) and 4.3 Home cinema speaker systems TV stands and wall brackets Place
Argos sells its products using three major formats; Store formats (Argos Call & Collect store, Argos extra, Argos store) online, and home-shopping via catalogues. It distributes some products like video games through Royal mail in addition to its own personal delivery service. Orders can be made either by phone, text, online or in-store and then collected from any of
the in-store formats or delivered directly to customers’ homes usually for a token. Home-shopping rate of growth fell every year from 2002 (12%) to 2006 (2%) (GMID, 2007) due to development of on-line retailing. Decline in Argos’ home-shopping sales was offset by an increase in internet retailing sales (GMID, 2008). Recent trend in consumers’ lifestyle (cocooning) is projected will cause an increase in home-shopping volume and sales value and will benefit internet retailing also. Presently, Argos accounts for 16% of Internet retail sales (GMID, 2008). 4.4 Price
Argos uses an everyday low pricing strategy which it is able to achieve mainly by cutting cost through the kind of retailing channels it uses which doesn’t require a large shop space and a lot of staffs. Argos is able to reflect this cost reduction in the prices it charges its customers. It also achieves lesser prices through shared infrastructure with Homebase. 4.5 Promotion
Argos advertises indirectly through its home-shopping catalogues and also through commercial TV like ITV 4.
STRENGTH WEAKNESS § 1.1 Million active store card § Over-dependence on UK market customers and an email database of § Size compared to its major 1 over five million customers competitors § Low-cost product § Inability for customers to see § Integrated multi-channel capability products on display in-store § Size of stock it carries which gives it (especially for high risk goods such as a buying leverage TV) § Relatively low advertising § Ability to by-pass intermediaries in sourcing some products OPPORTUNITY THREAT § Governments motive to cross-over § Incursion of from analogue terrestrial TV signal to supermarkets/hypermarkets into digital signal catalogue retailing (Tesco Direct § Cocooning catalogues) § Proportion of market without digital § Global economic crisis which is TVs causing a strain on consumer’s § High vacation/Holiday and outdoor income entertaining expenses § Decline in sales of its parent company’s other brand, Homebase § 1.1 Million active store card customers and an email database of over five million customers
6.0 6.1 1.
MARKETING STRATEGY MARKETING OBJECTIVES To achieve a 25% increase in the sales of digital TV each month by building and holding market share.
To achieve a steady increase in market share growth. TARGET MARKET
Our target market includes families aged 25 – 64 without kids/dependent kids. This segment is chosen because of their higher buying power (made possible because they have double income and don’t have child obligations) and they have a taste for products that others may perceive as luxury. We will be focusing on three major psychographic needs; 1. Pleasure seekers – people who want entertainment (movies, TV soaps) and want the theatre effect at home. This group are concerned about the image and the sound quality of the TV and other added functions. 2. Functionality seekers – people who want to just watch TV especially to catch on with what is happening in the economy nationally and globally. 3. Image seekers – people who want TV as an art/fashion statement (a focal point) in their homes. They are also feature conscious. They want something that looks
sophisticated because it all adds to the image of the TV. 6.3 POSITIONING/STRATEGY
Argos will position itself through niche marketing. It will create digital TV packages for different sub groups. Its product would include brand new HDTV ready, iDTV/HDTV with in-built digital box, flat screens, digital TV set box, and Home Theatre. Argos’ product line will be reduced to allow for greater efficiency by cutting down on its unprofitable products like furniture which the housing crisis has made there to be less demand for. TV combos also will be dropped because they are not popular anymore (GMID Report, 2008). Our product is in the early growth stage, however, the present economic situation which has
resulted in customer’s loss of confidence coupled with decline in sales has to be considered. We will try and use direct marketing using interactive cd-rom which will serve as a virtual outlet. Price is certainly one of the obvious reasons why consumers buy a product (Parente, 2004). However, Argos will avoid price wars with its competitors and differentiate itself by portraying to customers an image of a company that seeks to always give them the best irrespective of the economic tune of the country. Argos’ pricing has been known to be low compared to others offering the same product therefore Argos will position itself basically on service and convey the message of a brand that identifies with its customers situation (emotional motivation). Price cuts will be reflected more in the service that Argos offers to its customers (like offering discounted delivery, installation and recycling) other than in the actual product. Argos will build and hold its market share through intensive advertising. 6.4.0 Marketing Mix 6.4.1 Product Mix Our product mix will include HDTV ready/iDTV packages, Home Theatre packages, Upgrade packages and Traditional TV package. 1. HDTV ready or iDTV package This package includes brand new HDTV ready or iDTV sets. Argos will carry more smaller-screen size LCD and Plasma TVs (24”, 30”, 32” and 37”) in our inventory than the wider screen ones (40”, 42”, and 46”). The digital TV brands will consist of premium priced models (Philips, Panasonic and Sony) and less-priced models (LG, Sharp and Samsung). We are carrying premium brands because they have the largest share of the UK TV market and people that have been used to them may find it difficult switching brand since they are “tested and trusted brands” to them. 2. Upgrade package and Accessories
This includes products for upgrade and customers that have an “HDTV ready” set and accessories or complimentary products. In this range are mounting brackets/stands, home cinema speakers system, digital set boxes, digital video recorders, antennas and amplifiers/converters for Communal Aerial Broadcast Distribution and digital TV compatible cables (HDMI cable, DVI-D and audio cables, or audio and component video cables). We will carry all this varieties as a fulfilment of our vision to offer customers a wide range of product options. 3. Home Theatre Packages This is HDTV/iDTV package with home cinema speaker systems. This package is taking into consideration the trend in cocooning (Financial Times, 2008) which is projected to intensify and the increasing cost of outdoor entertainment which may cause families to rather create the cinema experience in their homes (GMID, 2008). 4. Traditional TV Package Flat screen TVs for customers that are reluctant to buy Plasma/LCD TV. 6.4.2 Promotion 1. Our objective is to inform and remind our customers about the various packages that Argos has to help them prepare for a smooth digital switchover. 2. To persuade customers to take advantage of the Christmas and New Year offers convincing them that Argos has their best interest in mind. 3. To build customer loyalty through emotional appeal.
We will encourage every customer to get ArgosCard or Argos MasterCard so that they can take benefit of our special buy-now pay later offers. Other offers open to all our customers for the Christmas and New Year include; • 10% discount for installation, recycling of old product and delivery for purchase that is up to £250 or the customer gets 10% off any other “Upgrade package and Accessories” chosen • 20% discount for installation, recycling of old product and delivery for purchase that is up to £750 or 20% off any other “Upgrade package and Accessories” item chosen.
Half price for any “Upgrade package and Accessories” item chosen if you buy digital TV (32” and above screen sizes only) and Home cinema speaker systems together.
Raffle offer – Buy a digital TV and spend an additional £29.99 on other items and you are entitled for a raffle ticket that will be drawn at the end of January for 80 lucky winners. The prize gifts will be a 160GB DVR or a £60 Home Cinema kit.
These offers end 15th of January. The offer is meant to stimulate and motivate customers to buy during these periods. We will use advertising on television media, and our website to reflect our message of “Togetherness” to our customers. We will also place our adverts on Comparison Shopping Engines (kelkoo.co.uk and PriceGrabber.co.uk) which have been said to be becoming popular of late and also use Point-of-Sale displays. A special TV interactive cd-rom and a brochure/guide titled “Be prepared, get digital” would be available for pick up in our stores. The brochure will be sent to targeted homes using our customer database of 1.1 million active store card holders (HRG, 2008). The cd-rom will contain reviews, FAQs and demonstrations of the various digital TVs that Argos carries in stock and information concerning the digital switch over. Prices will not be included in the cd-rom. Links in the cd-rom when clicked if the customer’s personal computer is connected to the internet will bring customers directly to Argos website where they can find out price details or make a purchase. However, the cd-rom content can be downloaded or viewed online also. The brochure contains more detailed information about different TV brands and their various features than the usual Argos home-shopping catalogue. It is a special TV edition which will be available for only two months. It also contains FAQs about the various TV formats, digital switch-over and direction on how to view the interactive TV section on our website. The concept stems from the fact that Customers will need information on alternative brands or choices so as to compare before making a purchase decision. (Dibb. et. al., 2006). The high price and risk associated with digital TV will need extensive decision making. The cd-rom is to persuade them indirectly because we know it’s difficult to make customers go against their decisions about a product when the product is a high risk product and especially considering the recent financial pressure and economic situation. At the end of
every item will be the phrase “buy now” as a prompting that seals a sale. 6.4.3 Advertising strategy The Unique Selling Proposition in the retailing industry now is price which is inevitable considering the present state of the economy. On the contrary, instead of us focusing on unique selling proposition, we will focus on creating a unique selling personality. We will create a personality for our brand that reflects warmth, caring and togetherness. The creative proposition will be “Together, forever, whenever ...don’t shop for it, Argos it” Argos will run advertisement through television media and online. The advert will depict how Argos helps its customers to have a hassle free change both in the digital changeover and also in the change in their lifestyle (as they result into cocooning) emphasizing how it helps them turn their living room to a place of comfort that they can always look forward to. The message will show Argos working at ensuring that their customers have a home and not just a house or a building. The ad will show features available on HD format which the traditional TV formats cannot express and the special offers at Argos available to help them get the best out of HD. This is because there is high probability that people in our segment will at least have a TV. There will be an in-store display (Point-of-Purchase advertising) on digital-transition that emphasizes the features and advantages of HDTV and digital TV signal. This will be to inform and remind customers in the shop as they will be shopping around for other products. 6.4.4 Price We will use a triad of break-even point in combination with marginal analysis (Perreault et. al., 2008) and meet-the-competition strategy (Blythe, 2003) to set our prices. We don’t want to compete on price but neither do we want our prices to be too far from competitors prices. Therefore, we will use break-even point and marginal analysis to set our lowest and highest price and then use meet-the-competion/going-rate strategy for comparison/check to ensure that the chosen price is not too far (either lower or higher) from the competition. Changes in prices are expected considering the present unstable economy. The drop in the pound value could make import prices high and that may have to be reflected even in store
prices of commodities. Exchange rates and drop in total demand could make manufacturers change prices. Therefore, to adjust prices, we will use a “price bundling or unbundling” tactic respectively (Jobber, 2007). Prices will be set using figures ending with *.99 (e.g. 24.99, 109.99) and when prices need to be adjusted new prices will be set using an awkward, inconsistent number series like changing a DVR price from 24.99 to 18.37 or 19.32. 6.4.5 Place There will be intensive distribution at our in-store formats. However, with the use of the special TV edition interactive cd-roms and brochure Argos hopes to increase its non-retail format share of the market. Our website will be upgraded to offer customers opportunity to track the progress of their ordered products and to watch 3D demonstrations of digital TV. We will build an extra desk in-store for digital TV and switchover enquiries with computer at the desk for our staff to use to show customers demonstrations of digital TV. We will keep to our former retail formats. We will use the proposed cd-rom, brochure and the link (to download and access the content of the cd-rom from our website) to help customers assess the products virtually since our store format is a weakness for such high-involvement products like digital-TVs. Customers don’t have the luxury of been able to physically see the product until they order for them. Sales analysis will be used with a just-in-time logistics system (Kotler et. al., 2005) to reduce inventory cost and avoid disappointing customers.
BUDGET AND FINANCIAL FORECAST
MARKETING EXPENSE BUDGET
December Website upgrade In-store overhauling (Extra desk + Computer cost) Printed brochure CD-ROM Mail expense Cost of training staffs (3 days training) Advertisement Total sales and marketing expenses Total expenses Expected average price (for all TV sizes) Expected average quantity Gross sales Gross Profit 8,000 2,500 3,000 7000 1,300 1,500 12,500 27,000 62800 787.83 per unit 200 157566 94766 January 8,000 27,000 35,000 787.83 per unit 250 196957.5 161957.5
N: B: The increase in expected average quantity in January is based on the marketing objective to increase sales by 25% each month 8.0 IMPLEMENTATION & CONTROL
Because of the expected traffic, we will work with a reputable recruitment agency, which will help provide part-time employees (for the Christmas and New Year period) who have good customer relationship skill. We will train employees to know certain necessary details and information about TVs in general and the various brands and possibilities available for a smooth transition from analogue to digital. They will offer technical advices for customers who want to buy TVs or who want to know their possible options. Argos will make a substantial investment in all its employees to improve customer service. With time, Argos will withdraw its “Traditional TV package” which is presently in the late maturity stage and about to become “dogs” according to the BCG matrix (Lancaster and Reynolds, 2004). We will try and get feedback from our customers who will be asked to fill a free-post
questionnaire to tell us about how satisfied they are. We will use sales data to monitor revenue in the digital TV and related accessories sector to see if we are progressing or see if any marketing element needs to be adjusted. We will monitor the brands and sizes that people are buying the most so that we can adjust our inventory. 9.0 CONCLUSION
Having set the direction for marketing and stating the appropriate strategies, Argos would ensure that all aspects of its operations (internal and external) are well synergized. Argos will ensure that its marketing and communications plan are integrated to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency of its proposed plan.
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