Introduction and Course Description
Researching on the market before venturing into a new business is important because it enhances means of meeting customers' needs in unique and innovative ways. Therefore, creating a platform for gaining an advantage of strategizing on how to start and run a company in a competent manner. Devising means of realizing customer's satisfaction usually enhances companies' perspective of offering quality products and services (Walker, et al., 2006). Hence, researching the market usually device ways for not only attracting more customers but also for gaining required loyalty from customers when they receive quality products and services. This way the business may realize adequate sales for more earnings and profit margin, which may eventually divert towards business expansion programs. Tile Pros Company needs to engage in extensive research on the raw materials to use, appealing patterns for the different application segments and appropriate sales and distribution methods to use before entering the market.
Outlining research objective is important because it narrows down on the key areas that require detailed analysis within the larger industry and business processes. The first research objective for Tile Pros Company involves determining customers' preferences in the tile industry. Tile Pro has interests in selling its products to customers from real estates, offices, restaurants, home, and showrooms. There are needs to determine the preferences of customers with the intentions of attracting them to make more purchases and also become loyal customers to the company. When determining customers' preferences, the company will establish which colors, tile sizes, and decoration patterns appeal more to application segment. Determination of whether clients will love their portraits, pictures of wild animals, cats, and dogs engraved within the tiles is essential since the company may avoid futile investments.
Secondly, it is essential to research on the raw materials used for manufacturing tiles with respect to their costs, strength, durability, and suitability in applications. Tiles are usually made using clay, silica sand, kaolin, bentonite, and feldspar as raw materials. Tile Pros needs to determine resultant tensile strength and cost implications for the different raw materials used with the aim of reducing cost while enhancing products' quality and sales. With this objective, the company may determine whether to offer products with different prices according to the expenses from raw materials or to make high priced quality products from expensive raw materials.
Moreover, there are needs to research on the best ways of selling and distributing manufactured tiles from Tile Pro Company. There are needs of considering the most appropriate contract and legal requirements that may facilitate sales and distribution. In order to enhance sales, there are needs for engaging in lawful agreements, which facilitate infiltration of Tile Pros products to the market. The company may use findings in weighing options of engaging in direct sales, working with sales representatives, selling to retailers like a warehouse or using third-party logistics. The uniqueness and requirements for each method of selling products ought to have clear-cut positions that touch on merits and demerits of each method of operation. Additionally, there are needs for exploring statutory regulations and requirements with the intentions of aligning to set provisions when conducting business. In cases that deal with resellers, sales representatives and other logistics providers, research objectives needs for determining their respective obligations, rights, and expectations. Appointing and using commercial distributors and agents with the intentions of developing the market both locally and internationally to increase sales is a well-known commercial practice.
Furthermore, research objectives need to include determination of strategic management and business policies that will efficiently help in running the business. Business policies normally develop a framework the company to engage in the strategic decision-making process and adequately handle other management responsibilities. Appropriate business policies and strategic management usually enhance smooth coordination of businesses' internal affairs. With regards to business policy, research objective needs to delve into functions allocated to senior management. Policies also determine decisions that describe direction taken by the company in different circumstances and to its employees for proper operation and future sustainability (ICAI, 2017). Hence, this research objective is crucial because it molds organization character, identity, and purposes. Additionally, it will help in defining operations that need to take place and determination of ways for obtaining resources for attaining set goals. Researching on appropriate application of policies will be essential in determining ways of putting the business at a competitive edge in tile making and sales business.
There are also needs for creating a research objective to explore how the big players in the tile industry handle their clients and fulfill their respective sales targets. Researching ways through which established tile manufacturing companies enhance product satisfaction will help in adopting similar behavior in the company. Additionally, determination of their model of chain distribution with regards to reduced company inventory and use of internet portfolio for reaching clients will also become important for enhancing investments levels within the company.
The company will use problem-solving research (PSR) in order to enhance processes that decision makers will use while solving arising problems in Pro Tile Company. PSR is beneficial because the company is able to attain precise information regarding different aspects of the business. The method usually includes research objectives and uses formalized quantitative methods like observations, experiments, and surveys during analysis. Even though problem-solving research is expensive, complex and time-consuming, resultant information facilitate adequate decision-making processes for companies. PSR usually involves detailed research on pricing, products, segmentation, and promotion and distribution spheres.
When using PSR, segmentation research ought to determine the basis used for grouping in the market. Furthermore, Tile Pros may research on precise information regarding the establishment of market potential and responsiveness of the different segments available. Additionally, the segmentation research outline target market for creating demography, media and lifestyle profiles. In regards to products research, determination of market test, package test, optimal product design, brands positioning and control tests need to acquire findings. Additionally, promotion research involves media decision, copy decision, optimum promotion mix, and budgets, creative advertising testing and evaluating the effectiveness of the advertisement. Whereas pricing research determines pricing policies, pricing elasticity with regards to demands, responses attained with regards to price changes and the importance of pricing in branded items. Distribution research will aim to determine channel margins, wholesalers and retailers locations and attitude attained by different channel members. The research will also determine types of distributions used in the market.
Therefore, PSR normally aligns with management problems from segmentation to marketing mix areas. Nonetheless, PSR may only commence after conducting preliminary exploratory research for a more generalized market analysis. Exploratory research determines obscure opportunities and threats regarding cultural, social and economic trends that are not readily identified from face value. When carrying out these preliminary findings, unstructured research techniques like depth interview, focus-group interviews, and desk research are usually used for making appropriate findings. Using this form of research usually, determine patterns and trends within the marketing environment that may be used for conducting PSR.
Since marketing research is sequential, there are needs for Tile Pros to follow distinct stages and steps when making studies in order to obtain quality results. Therefore, adequate studies need reliable, relevant and accurate research specialists who articulate sequential research processes in an adequate amount of time. These research steps may include determining needed information, designing ways for information collection, implementation of data collection processes, analysis of results and finally communication of resultant findings.
Secondary Data Sources for Tiles
According to the article done by Aufschnaiter on "Industrial Ceramic Tile Manufacturing," ceramic tiles are usually made from a composition of clay and other inorganic materials. These materials are usually grounded or slipped before being molded and dried at temperatures of 950oC to 1250oC for them to acquire their nonporous and tensile strength properties. Tile sizes may vary, even though about 90 percent fall within the brackets of (4 X4"), (5X10'), (24X24") and (24 X 48") (Aufschnaiter, 2016). Tiles are usually grouped under two main umbrellas that include unglazed and glazed types. Glazed tiles normally have a vitreous coating applied on top with the aim of increasing wear resistance. They are usually used in both traditional and digital decoration methods. Contrarily, unglazed tiles normally undertake one firing process. They usually lack decoration properties, which are eminent with glazed tiles.
As outlined in figure 1, finished glazed tiles normally have four layers that correspond to their respective functions (Aufschnaiter, 2016). The upper "additional protective layer" is mainly applied to floor tiles to provide a protective coating against abrasion when they are stepped on. Additionally, this layer has safety benefits because it reduces tiles' slippery effect when applied on the floors. Ceramic glaze is normally made up of protective glass coating that is nonporous in nature. This layer is usually printed directly on the glaze. The layer normally provides resistant property because it seals the tiles against the infiltration of liquids. The Engobe layer usually comprises a thin layer that is normally applied before glazing with the aim of covering unevenness and defects existing on the body. Moreover, the block ensures that the body becomes a block in nature. Tiles' main body is made from a mixture of clay and different types of inorganic raw materials of feldspar, kaolin, quartz and many others.
Figure 1: Parts of a finished product of glazed tile
Source: Aufschnaiter, N., (2016). Industrial ceramic tile manufacturing. Durst Phototechnik AG
Tiles manufacturing processes involves molding the raw material before pressing it. Later, the green body is dried before application of optical layers of engobe and glaze. The decorations are made using digital printing equipment that includes flexographic and screen printing. Finally, an additional layer that has anti-slip, haptic, optical and ware resistant properties takes place. Once, the whole slab is in place, it is put in a kiln for firing at 900o C - 1300o C. After firing the finished product of tile undergoes polishing and rectification processes. Later they pass the quality control and lastly sorting and packing processes.
Durst Company began using digital mean for decorating tiles in 2004 by using Gamma Digital Printer by using ceramic inks that were pigmented (Aufschnaiter, 2016). With the help of customer relations, Durst continues to import...
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