MRKT20057 Global Business Marketing Planning and Costing Management

MRKT20057 Global Business Marketing Planning and Costing Management

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MRKT20057 Global Business Marketing

Task:

Could the Story Have Been Different?  

At its peak, Schwinn had more than U.S. employees, produced hundreds of thousands of bicycles in five factories, and held 20 percent of the market. Today, however, Schwinn no longer exists as an operating company. The firm, founded in, declared bankruptcy in and closed its last factory one year later. The Schwinn name is now owned by Canada-based firm and all of the bikes are manufactured in Asia. Harold L. Sirkin, a senior vice president at Boston Consulting Group, argues that Schwinn’s story could have been different. He outlines two alternative pathways that might have provided a happier ending to the Schwinn story.

Alternative Reality One: Aim High  

Under this scenario, Schwinn decided to center on midrange and premium segments of the market, leaving low-end bicycles for competitors. However, the firm determined that it could substantially reduce cost by turning to low-cost partners in rapidly developing economies for labor-intensive parts. Schwinn interviewed hundreds of potential suppliers and locked the best ones into long-term contracts. Schwinn then reconfigured its operations to perform final assembly and quality inspection in the United States.

Still, the changes forced Schwinn to make some painful choices- nearly 30 percent of the workforce was laid off. However, such moves allowed Schwinn to produce bikes at half the previous cost, maintain a significant position in the midrange bicycle market, and leverage its product design capabilities to build a strong position for its brand in the high-end market. As a result, Schwinn is extremely competitive in the U.S. market and is a major exporter of premium bikes to China and Europe. Because of this growth, Schwinn now employs twice as many people in the United States as it did before outsourcing began.

Alternative Reality Two: You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Schwinn went on the offensive and moved as quickly as possible to open its own factory in China. By bringing its own manufacturing techniques and by training employees in China, Schwinn was able to achieve high quality and a much lower cost. However, the decision meant that 70 percent of Schwinn’s U.S. workers would lose their jobs. But Schwinn kept expanding its China operations and soon started selling bicycles in Chinese market, not only at the low-end but also to the high-end, luxury segment, leveraging its brand name. Schwinn then extended its global operations and reach by adding new facilities in Eastern Europe and Brazil. The company has sold over bikes in new markets.

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