Client: EST COLA. Project submitted to: Mahidol University International College, Bangkok in 2015. Course: Marketing Research. Collaborators: Broze Louis-Philippe, Borrin Ariyawongsanitikorn, Manpriya kaur Sachdev, Pinusa Trakoolpaiboolpol. Provided marketing research recommendation for Thai brand EST to overcome barriers and provided recommendations of improvement on marketing & communications-related aspects. Disclaimer: due to confidentiality, the full project cannot be disclosed.

After analyzing the different symptoms that Est is currently facing, we were able to underline the possible problems causing these symptoms.
Now we can propose some alternatives in order to find out solutions to the possible issues. We’ll go through the different probable causes and for each one propose an alternative.

First of all comes the image issues, Est is considered by the public opinion to be too close of Pepsi (nearly a clone of it). We firmly believe that Est should differentiate itself from Pepsi by acquiring a new logo with new colors, not a logo with the “Pepsi colors”. Indeed, we are keen to think that a main part of the customers identify Est as a substitute of Pepsi, not as a real “cola competitor”. The differentiation is here the main point of this alternative.

Secondly comes the taste issue, as a matter of fact Est is considered by a large part of the Thai consumers to be too sweet. We recommend Est to change its receipt and to adapt its taste to a more authentic cola taste. However, Est should still keep a “differentiation taste” for the purpose of being unique. This taste should be determined by surveying the market and identifying the needed flavor.

Afterwards the packaging can also be a possible cause. As said before, Est has already gone through two changes of packaging. They should now come up with a fixed packaging that is still close to the current competitors (we mean by “fixed”; a long term packaging). One that can be qualified as “classic cola packaging”, but that still offers Est a differentiation aspect. This aims to change the customer’s negative perception into a positive one as well as to create a stronger and a more distinct brand image.

Once again being different is a matter of prime importance in that case, even if we underline the fact that Est should not go too far in the differentiation as they are currently doing. Indeed, currently they are being far too fancy in their packaging and we suppose that they are not identified as a regular coke (that could give them a larger market share) by the Thai market.

Furthermore, concerning the packaging Est could also for example use PET plastic bottles which are more advanced in technology and are more environmental-friendly - which fits with their vision of living by a new way. This can appeal to customers who are environmentally-aware to choose Est over other brands that fits better with their lifestyle.

To conclude we would like to present a last important alternative: the promotion. Indeed, Est should be more serious about their campaign such as sponsoring relevant outdoor events such as music festivals or extreme sports like what Mountain Dew is currently doing so that the target market (young population) can identify themselves much better in the brand.

Moreover, they could also use their new taste as a main point in a new promotion campaign.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

As a marketing research team we are aiming to collect information from a sample size of 100 units. Each unit represents one MUIC student. Our sample frame has to be 3.000. It represents the number of Mahidol University International College students.

EST main target is youngsters which leads us to focus on college students.
Since the sample we chose is not a product of a randomized selection process the use of a non probability convenience sampling method is involved... The main survey will be conducted through focus groups. The focus group will include 12 units. Since the questions asked would not be only about general informations but specific and deep, we can consider them as qualitative. Questions related to consumer habits and details about the product EST offers such as the taste, the packaging will be asked in order to define the hidden side of the problems EST faces. Focus groups will lead to two in depth interviews, seventy booth set ups and eighteen consumer buying behaviours will be observed afterwards. These operations will help us have a better knowledge of our target market in order to solve problems, improve the strategy and make decision making processes more efficient.

The main objectives of our research can be defined as such:
To understand potential customers' perception and existing emotions and feelings about facts like the taste, logo and package design. The Understanding of the target market through research will help us coming up with reasons why the symptom of the decrease of market share has been observed.

To identify our client main target's expectations, needs and desires. We will be able to find appropriate alternatives after the research will be done.

To observe the potential market purchasing behaviours. General and specific questions are not sufficient enough to be able to determine the alternatives that should be undertaken by the company in order to make improvements. The observation of the consumer behaviour is extremely important. Indeed, Est is involved in a highly competitive marketing environment and for its growth, survival and increase of profitability it is better for the company to anticipate and make decisions quicker than competitors, Marketing consumer orientation is the key for success.

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