Individual Assignment #1 Networking Strategy and Action plan
Part 1: Networking Strategy
The Water Jacket’s key competency lies in its unique differentiation from other products on the market, being a highly disruptive product to beverage giants such as Coca Cola, Pepsi as well as other bottled water companies. The Water Jacket business model is also one that highly environmentally friendly. For one, the water jacket is able to skip through almost the entire supply chain by offering a machine that supplies, distils, bottles the water on the spot and offer it to a customer within 15 seconds (amount of time taken to fill up a bottle). In the modern business environment, especially within a Western context, companies are assessed not only in terms of their profitability and efficiency but also if they are sustainable and environmentally friendly. As Goudreau (2012) states:” It’s 2012, and people don’t buy what you do but why you do it” (Forbes). Companies can be seen to engage substantially with CSR (corporate social responsibility). For example, Dell offers a free worldwide recycling program for its customers (Dell Inc 10-K 2013). Companies proudly showcase their CSR efforts on their websites and annual reports as they understand the value that it brings to them. The media also promptly convey messages of environmental friendliness, sustainability and going ‘green’, shaping it into a societal norm.
According to John, they have received the necessary funding in order to begin production of the Water Jacket. John has also pointed out that there are many interested parties at this point. The company has already begun the manufacturing of prototypes and the first vending machines will be made available to customers around the end of 2013. As such, it is important then for the benefits of the water jacket to be articulated to customers. For example, how the Water Jacket is made of P.E.T (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, how it has a significantly lower carbon footprint, how they are powered by two solar panels and how a recycling program will also be launched simultaneously with the product. Upon realising these benefits, environmentally conscious customers will realise that the Water Jacket is the obvious choice.
John’s current pressing needs include as much customer information and feedback as possible, to improve the design of the water jacket in order to increase appeal as well as to seek out potential partners during initial launch as well as consequent events. As such, John should establish a customer oriented network, and networking efforts be directed toward product viability, appeal to customers and where his customers lie. The product should be marketed with a key message that portrays strong social responsibility and a healthy lifestyle, in a manner similar to how Redbull aligns itself with extreme sports and Coca Cola aligns itself with youth culture and fun.
Initial feedback may be sourced from family and friends within John’s personal social network, who will provide honest opinion regarding the product. This is important as family and friends are also viable customers for the Water Jacket, so essentially they are providing their opinions as a customer. Consequently, John can identify and be a member of essential peak bodies that would support his project and increase his rate of success. Peak bodies include the ABWI (Australian Bottled Water Institute Inc), the SMEs association of Australia which supports small and medium businesses to achieve entrepreneurial success (SME Australia 2013) as well as the COSBOA (Council of small business Australia). The ABWI keeps John updated with government regulations and reforms, and can also petition for new ones when necessary. Following that, John can identify potential sources of design talent in order to increase the appeal for this product (one of Water Jacket’s biggest