Agora marks a turning point in the concept of retailing in Bangladesh. From the very beginning of its operation since 2001, the super-market chain store has put the convenience of its target consumers the middle and higher middle class, foremost in devising its marketing strategies.
Agora attempts to maintain an image and atmosphere that is consistent with its pledge for quality and customer satisfaction. The stores occupy very large premises at expensive areas of the city and offer a wide assortment of food stuffs, daily house hold items and durables that would mostly appeal to its target population, Unlike, many such large stores, Agora tries to remain ahead of its competitors by sponsoring innovation of local innovations.
Agora is currently charging maximum retail price that is given to it by its suppliers. The prices are congruent with that of the rest of the market. However, the management has plans to offer prices lower than the ones offered by the competitors in the market.
Agora advertises through newspapers and billboards a very selective approach as it does not target the mass but mostly those living in close proximity to the store. The logo “Agora”- in English-points to the importance of the image factor, which is important to their promotional strategy adequate car parking space for congestion free shopping Air-conditioning and child’s play area and other amenities, are provided to increase the comfort of shopping.
Although Agora is at a very early stage in its life, the management is at present following a very cautious marketing strategy. The overall 10% annual sales growth offer a reflection to the potential of Agora to attain its long term objectives of becoming the market leader in the retail industry.
Objective of the Report
To provide an overview of the supermarket trend of Bangladesh with emphasis on the latest developments taking place in this sphere of retail trade.
To explore the reasons behind the emergence of Agora.
To provide an insight to Agora’s is central selling points as well as other special features that set the standard for contemporary retail practice in Bangladesh.
To assess the importance of provision of wide range of products as a key feature of Agora ‘.v services to shoppers.
Bulk of the data provided in the report comes from primary sources unstructured observation of shoppers during frequent visits to the super market, served as a foundation for compiling information on Agora.
Questionnaires were used to obtain information on customer opinions and other supporting details such as attitude towards other retail outlets. Most importantly, face-to-face interviews with concerned executives provided valuable insights to marketing strategies employed by the store. The website served as the main secondary source for information relating to the background of Agora.
Scope of the study
The focus of this report will be drawing the historical Background, plan, vision, and objective, overview of the company, competitors, target market, central selling point, future plan, and overall marketing activities of agora.
Limitation of the study
As we are student they don’t to give us exact information about agora and its activities
Less communication skill may make this report less significant. But we tried our best.
An Overview of Agora
The retail chain or Rahimafrooz Superstores Limited under the brand Agora had been started in the year 2001. This has been the most dramatic shift in Rahimafrooz’s interests as it represented a diversification from its main competencies power and the industrial sector.
Background of Rahimafrooz
Rahimafrooz was incorporated as a trading company in 1 954, from then on, it has grown quite rapidly, collaborating with Lucas, U.K for distribution and manufacture of lead acid batteries in the country, owning exclusive rights for the distribution of DUNLOP Tyres in the country and collaborating with Chloride Group, U.K. among other.
In itself Rahimafrooz has set up its own lead-acid battery plants in several parts of the country and in addition to Lucas, introduced its own brand Yuasa batteries. It has also heavily invested in the automobile and power sector, and bought out its own brand RZ Tyes, RESL (Rahimafrooz Energy Services Limited) is a recent venture into the power sector (Internet I).
Background of Agora
(Agora is the brand name given to Rahimafrooz Superstore, an exclusive venture of Rahimafrooz group.
Agora is a Greek word-meaning gathering place or a bazaar or marketplace. Agora was a common name used in ancient Greek city for the site of the popular assembly, but as time went by, it was used increasingly for commercial purposes.
Each store of Agora is planned to have a total floor space of minimum 7000 sq ft offering 20,000 variety of products covering all essential commodities, edibles, groceries, and other daily household requirements including fresh produce, fresh meat, poultry, fish, packed and canned grocery, toiletries, and all daily necessities from 10 am till 10 pm. seven days a week throughout the year (Internet 2). The first store was opened on August 24, 2001, at Rifles Square, Road 2, Dhanmondi. The second store was opened in Gulshan in April 2002 and third one has opened in Moghbazaar in April 2005.
Vision of Agora
We will be opening our 4th and 5th superstores, consolidating the supply chain and initiating Agora Franchise, that redefine the shopping experience in Bangladesh in line with our aspiration statement.
To consistently provide a REMARKABLY SATISFYING and VALUABLE Shopping experience through a business that improves the QUALITY of LIFE for customers and team members (Internet 3).
Objectives of Agora (Internet 4)
To offer clean, healthy and a friendly environment to customers for shopping.
To give customers confidence and establish and environment of trust.
Encourage producers to produce standard & quality products, for better prices.
Ensure consistency of variety and supplies of products.
Improve product packaging & presentation.
Contribute to the well being of the people in the process.
Plan of Agora (Internet 5)
Establish a chain supermarket.
Each supermarket will have at least 7000 sq. ft. in a single shop.
The supermarket will have adequate parking space.
The supermarkets will carry wide variety of quality assured product only.
Develop & promote local products.
Overview of the Company
In recent years there have been rapid development in the retail industry. Indeed, there have been radical changes taking place in the traditional idea of shopping. This is evident as there is a gradual shift towards retailers providing a complete range of goods under one of roof catering to daily needs accompanied by a wide array of facilities ranging from car parks, air-conditioning and escalators.
Keen amid competition from every form of retailers. Starting from the bazaars to chain stores, super-markets, and department stores spring up in residential areas, the focus is now towards making the shopping experience as pleasant as possible and to induce the shopper to make maximum purchases.
This rapid development in the retail business can be associated with the unprecedented rise in living standards in the city. The steady rise in income levels has make retailing on such large scale practicable. Besides, the emergence of the modern working housewife who has only limited time to shop for groceries and other daily necessities has largely contributed to the acceptance of such retail practices.
The relatively low income of the mass of the population results in significant proportion of earnings being taken up by expenditure on daily necessities. The reliance towards small grocery stores at the street corners and “Kacha Bazaars” still predominate among many. Hence the success of these stores hinge very much on their ability to capture as much of consumer spending as possible of directing expenditure away from the small stores and “Kacha Bazaars” – their main rivals! So, it is only a very small fraction for who visits these large stores. Nevertheless,(their expenditure account for a significant proportion of consumer spending of the middle – class, higher, middle – class as well as the elite – which by no means is insignificant.
The Competitors of Agora in the Market
The Main competitor of Agora, according to the Marketing Manager is the “Kacha Bazaars” Nevertheless, when pressed on the other competitors the management was considered as Mina Bazaar, PQS, Nandan.
A target market consists of a set of buyers sharing common needs or characteristics that the company decides to serve (Kotler,et all, 2004, p.251) mentioned earlier, the recent rise of the working parents of the country had been a prime reason behind the launch of the project. According to the Marketing Manager “Working parents nowadays usually don’t have time to go to different shops and stores for their daily needs. They would rather prefer a place where they could conveniently do their shopping in a congenial environment”. This is one of the most important points that Agora relies upon for its business.
As Agora aim is to encourage large sales turnover, their focus is on those income groups who can afford to buy in large quantities. Therefore, their-marketing strategies are segmented primarily under the following criterions.
A person’s economic situation will effect on product choice. Person can consider buying an expensive product if he/she has enough spendable income, savings or borrowing power (Kotler et all, 2004, p. 188). Agora primarily targets the following classes their customers. They are:
to the local markets although bringing in the older generation is tough due to their proclivity to toward local market shopping that have been practiced by them. He points out that in a store where you don’t have to haggle over price, the shopping experience becomes less adventurous which is something the older generations are unwilling to relate to.
The Middle class is made up of average-pay white and blue-collar workers who line on “The better side of two and try to do the proper things. The keep up with the trends, they often buy products that are popular. Most are concerned with fashion seeking the better brand names, better living means owning a nice home in a nice neighborhood with good school (Kotler et all, 2004, p.l 84).
Higher middles possess neither family status nor unusual wealth. They have attained positions as professionals, independent businesspersons, and corporate managers. They have a keen interest in attaining the “better things in life”. They believe in education (Kotler et all, 2004, p. 184).
The management of Agora conducted extensive survey prior to starting the business and this included finding what the working the working class (middle and higher middle) need. The general outcome was that the need of a store such as Agora was there the reason behind choosing this particular class is explained by the manager of the firm by the knowledge that the middle class of this country is expanding very rapidly and the working mother concepts is no longer special case. The prospects felt that elite would come with it, on general belief that both want quality at a reasonable price.
The other reason behind choosing the middle and higher-middle class is that they are usually the more educated among all the other classes, ensure taste and choice according to the management.
Consumer needs and wants change with age (Kotler et all, 2004, p.241). Agora uses age and life cycle segmentation, offering different products. Surprisingly, the generation factor seems to be affecting the plans of Agora in a positive way. According to the marketing manager young people are more at home shopping at Agora rather than going
Central Selling Point
Agora primarily focuses on convenience of buying at the store. Although it also provides variety of products, it emphasizes on convenience to bring in the working class into its store
Agora has a plan with a view to expanding their business for future. For this purpose they are going forward to open more branch in the different part in Dhaka city. First they want to set a branch at Shantinagor, then Uttara, Mohummadpur & Samoli gradually. In far future they have a plan to go other metropolitan areas like Chittagong & Syhlet.
Scope of the study
This report covers the basic marketing strategies central to Agora’s existence amid stiff competition from newer retail outlets. The focus of this report will be on drawing the elements- products, price, promotion, and distribution together in analyzing the complex nature of marketing that characterizes large-scale retail stores like Agora.
Limitations of the study
Due to time constraints and limited knowledge on marketing, it was not possible to give an exact reflection of the marketing aspect of Agora.
The sample in the consumer opinion survey not has represented the target market of Agora.
Less communication skill may make this report less significant. But we tried our best.
Objective of the Report
To analyze the pricing policies available to Agora and the constraints that limits their
To develop an understanding of the role of promotional techniques in achieving Agora’s marketing objective.
To develop an appreciation of Agora’s role as marketing intermediately and its significance in encouraging large scale as well as small scale producers.
To make projections on the scope of future expansion of Agora.
SWOT Analysis of Agora
SWOT Analysis is more then an exercise in making four lists. The really valuable part of SWOT analysis is determining what story the four lists tell about the company’s situation and thinking about what actions are needed. Understanding the story involves evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and drawing conclusions about (1) how the company’s strategy can be matched to both its resource capabilities and its market opportunities, and (2) how urgent it is for the company to correct which particular resource weaknesses and guard against which particular external threats (Thompson et all, 2001, pi 27).
Identifying company’s strength
Strength is something a company is good at doing or a characteristic that gives it enhanced competitiveness (Thompson et all, 2001, p.l 17).
A powerful strategy supported by competitively valuable skills and expertise in key areas (Thompson et all, 2001, p.l21): Agora arranges training system for its sales person to increase their skill. Agora has skilled and experienced human resource to organize the company in its key areas.
Strong financial condition; ample financial resources to grow the business (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Agora has strong financial condition and resource to grow the business, because within five-year agora open three braches in Dhaka city.
Strong image and good reputation (Thompson et all 2001, p. 121): By providing good customer services and 20 thousand variety of quality product. Agora offer clean, healthy and a friendly environment to customers for shopping.
Better quality product relative to rivals (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Agora encourages producers to produce standard and quality products. To provide quality product Agora check expire date every month.
Identifying Company’s Weakness
A weakness is something a company lacks or does poorly (in comparison to others) or a condition that puts it at a disadvantage (Thompson et all, 2001, p.l 19).
Financial statement: Agora has no any annual financial report.
Pricing strategy: Agora’s pricing strategy is not good enough is more costly then their competitor.
Lack of advertising: Agora use only news media rather than electronic media, a Agora is not careful enough about their competitors.
Supply variety product: The quantity supply of product’s are short. It has no stationary, sports, electronics, and gift items.
Lack use of e-commerce technologies and processes (Thompson et all, 2001, p.121).
Identifying Company’s Opportunity
Market opportunity is a big factor in shaping a company’s strategy. Indeed, managers can’t properly tailor strategy to the company’s situation without first identifying each company opportunity and appraising the growth and profit potential each one holds (Thompson et all, 2001, p.125).
Saving additional customer or expanding into new geographic markets or product segments (Thompson et all,’2001, p.121): By opening new branch of Agora in different area of Dhaka Agora serve additional customer or expending into new geographic markets or product segment.
Utilizing existing company skill or technological know how to enter new product lines or business (Thompson et all, 2001, p.121): Agora try to find out customer need, demand of different product and increase product line according to customer need and demand. Agora gives training to employee for increasing x their skill and use.
Growth sales volume: Agora increases their sales continuously. In 2001 Agora monthly sales volume Tk.5 to 6 cores. Now their sales volume Tk.6 to 7 cores.
Identifying Company’s Threats
Often, certain factors in a company’s external environment pose threats to its profitability and competitive well-being. Threats can stem from the emergence of cheaper or better technologies (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 127).
Likely entry of potent new competitors (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Agora has many competitors – Nandan, Meana Bazar, Shope to Save.
Loss of sales to substitute products (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Agora is not holding some brand of same quality product.
Costly new regulatory requirements (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Agora sells some foreign product at higher price for few numbers of customers.
Growing bargaining power (Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Growing bargaining power of customer because there are many competitors to Agora customers compare the product price of competitors products with Agora products price.
A shift in buyer needs and tastes away from the industry’s product
(Thompson et all, 2001, p. 121): Suppose Agora is not hold Doble-Cola. Suddenly if Agora sells Duble-Cola instead of Coca-Cola. If Agora’s customer who like to buy Duble-Cola rather than Vergine but Agora don’t hold Duble-Cola. It is also a threat for the Agora.
Marketing of Agora
The project’s strategic aim to source in bulk quantities from the producers or manufacturers of products, thereby reducing distribution layers. Traditionally, such practice brings about organization within the industry, and essential commodities, edibles and groceries account for the significant portion of the food industry-which in turn is the largest contributor to the broad retailing industry, (establishment of the chain of supermarket would have a significant impact on the entire retailing industry in Bangladesh (Internet 6).
Agora, being a retail service store, does not sell its own products. So its marketing strategy relies very heavily upon the products that the store keeps for the prospective customers, the price at which they provide those products and the manner in which the products reach the customers at the store. Their aim is to offer an extensive selection of brands and materials providing choice of different sizes at different prices. The marketing strategy employed by the stores is focused on the following:
Product is anything an organization or individual offers or exchange that may satisfy customer or customers’ need or the marketer own needs (Bennett et all, 1988, p. 286). According to the Marketing Manager Agora has about 20,000 different items in each store providing both variety and quality. The store combines merchandise with a full range of grocery products.
The products at the store many be divided into the following categories:
Perishables (includes fresh fruits, vegetable, meat, fish etc.)
Non- perishable (includes canned- house- hold goods like personal care products and items).
The fresh fruits and vegetable are local products from local farms.
Frozen meat and dairy products are among the fast moving products. Flour, pulses and other staple foods are packed graded and labeled by local suppliers, an idea given to them by Agora. The idea is to project the image of convenience to the shoppers.
The international brand in the frozen meat and fish products, pizzas, cheese butter and other meat, fish or daily goods. They are relatively fast- moving as they cater to the varied taste and are of relatively high standards. It has to be noted that although some foreign consumers had suggested that pork and alcoholic drinks be made available in the store, the suggestions were dropped to keep in line with the larger cultural concept.
Canned and bottled items like fruits and fruit juices are mostly imported from Australia. The general idea that these products are good value for money accounts largely for the prominence of these brands. Brands are preferred owing to image value.
Items such as soft drinks and snacks are available at different prices and varieties although it has to be noted that most of them are common brands available almost everywhere except for a few especially imported by Agora.
Daily breakfast needs are among the fastest-moving items in the store, which include coffee, tea, milk, cereals, and chocolate items. Except for milk and tea brands the rest is dominated by foreign brands. Chocolate brands are comparatively diverse.
These items include personal hygiene products and household utensils. They take up only about 20% of all the goods available.
Household cleaners and insecticides comprise of both local and international brands.
Soaps, Shampoos, Dishwashing liquids and Detergents are available in the personal hygiene products section, dominated by UNILEVER, an established brands, preferred as they have a general acceptability in the market and usually have a high turnover. This helps Agora maintain a high sales volume.
Utilities such as disposable knives, forks, spoons, aluminum, foils and wrappers are available in small quantities (understandably waiting for a demand to be created)
Cosmetics and deodorants are available providing a reasonable amount of variety.
New products and innovations by local farmers are encouraged by Agora. It itself takes the responsibility of marketing these special products in their stores. The idea is to represent Agora, as the sponsor for local innovations and in turn benefit from the profit made though such sales. It also gives them an edge over most competitors by being the first to introduce them. By the by the marketing manager said that presently wide acceptance of “TEE R EDIBLE OIL” is result of their vital contribution.
The pharmaceutical section is similar to a small pharmacy. The medicines available are not special in that they are the usual drugs available in other small pharmacies in the city. They sale pharmaceutical products as it same price as other medicine shop.
Their quality control is very high. According to the manager the stringent quality ensures that the products are update on a routine basis so that the expiry date is not exceeded. Products bought in and not sold are either returned to the suppliers or discarded.
In setting prices they Agora follow a combination of cost based pricing, value based pricing & competitors based prices. In case of most non-perishable product (such as soap, saving cream, powder, shampoo etc.) the follow competitors based price. And in case of perishable good they follow value based pricing.
In the perishable items sector, the fresh fruits, vegetable, beef and fish are priced higher than elsewhere. The executive explained this case by relating extra price to the “solid” weight that is provided by the store and the extra effort that goes in to clean the vegetable and meat from the whole bunch.
Management needs to inform and persuade the market regarding a company’s products (Stanton et all, 1991, p. 13). The ideal in a retail store is to strike a balance between what kinds of products are fast selling and profitable. An important first step in the business besides upgrading is its image. The challenge lies in convincing customers that prices are affordable and that the quality is value of money.
The promotional mix employed by Agora primarily focuses on the following methods:
Advertisements and the media
Advertisements and the Media:
At first, a private advertising agency called ADCOM had been hired to design and produce ads that Agora requires. The budget allotted for advertising, is roughly 2.5% of net sales. The message potential of Agora’s first claim of “A new way to shop'”-has been reduced largely due to the growth of similar stores that followed.
Overall Agora’s advertising concentrates upon the news media rather than electronic media. The reason given is that at the moment Agora has only two outlets so giving advertisements in the electronic media would be inappropriate. Now-agora expenses 0.91 % of net sales for advertising.
The News Media
A survey was conducted to find out first which newspapers were most circulated in the Dhanmondi and nearby areas. The English language daily ‘The Daily Star’ and the Bengali daily ‘The Daily Jugantor’ & ‘Pratham Alo’ came out the top of the list Ads were given out in these papers which the manager expected would reach the target market more efficiently in comparison with expensive and no specific electronic media.
The billboards have a long life as well as a high readership. Most messages are in English including the logo, which provides an-idea of the consumer group that Agora targets.
Sales Promotion is a short-term incentive to encourage the purchase of sale or a product or service (Ullha et all, 2001, p.489). Without sales promotion company might never have made that purchase or might have bought another brand (Bennett et all, 1988, p.524). Agora employs a wide range of sales-promotion methods. The main methods include:
Special shelves are placed at the forefront and are reserved for any company wanting to promote their products. In exchanges Agora is paid a special rent by the prospective companies other trade promotions by suppliers include leaflets and small posters.
As Agora is a relatively new venture, need was felt to associate established firms with it as a promotional strategy. Uzbekistan Airways and Fantasy Kingdome were involved with Agora in promoting the brand through sales or advertising. Besides these they make an agreement with standard chartered Bank for interchanging “Pride customer” They provide special service for Pride customer.
Overall the most important and effective promotion of Agora has been through mouth-to-mouth communication of friends and relatives. This has bought in a lot of customers for the firm.
The quality of products is not always enough as customers have to be convinced that they good value for money. Management’s responsibility is to select and manage the trade channels through which the products will reach the right market at the right time and develop a distribution system for physically handling and transporting the products through these channels (Stanton et all, 1991, pi 3). The following convenience Agora tries provide facilitate this process:
The location factor
The shop layout
Lighting and Ambience
The Location Factor
Each location chosen is characterized by an adequate and well off population base particular where there is a high level of pedestrian traffic. Agora tries to provide enough space for movement to the customers so they are encouraged to spend more time at the store. This is one of the most important distinguishing factors that the make the stores different from the local markets.
The first branch of the super- market is at the Rifles Square at Dhanmondi. This area is unique, as it is on of the busiest and well-connected areas region. The second branch of the super store has been opened at Gulshan. It is as well connected as the Dhanmondi branch. The third branch of super store has been opened at Mohgbazar. It is a more populated area Parking facility is roughly as good although a few aspects of the Dhanmondi branch had to be sacrificed to accommodate the basic requirements.
A very unique feature of the Dhanmondi branch is that it also has a kid’s play area. tv is a small room enough to accommodate a good number of small children. A female m caretaker is kept to take care of the children in the area. This is another strategy to ensure that the working parents can spend as much time as possible to do their shopping. It was not possible to do the same at Gulshan due to space constraints.
The shop Layout
All branches have similar window displays and shop layouts. The products are on open display so that the members can select, examine, and compare the products. The products are kept according to daily necessities of the customers chancing convenience.
Lighting and Ambience
As shoppers look for better values Agora has added several services to broaden the apple, including air-conditioning, child’s play area and background music.
Car-parking Facilities at the store
Adequate car-parking facility is a must in every outlet and all the outlets have considerable space to accommodate the cars for the customers. The reason sited for this special emphasis on the car park is that, cars are becoming more of a necessity than just a stats symbol and encouraging shoppers to buy in large quantities.
Findings & Recommendations
Agora at present relies more on its reputation and less on advertisement, mushroom growth of competitors with massive investments threatens the meager 1% of total share market of Agora. Over 90% of the sample had known about Agora through social connections. An increase in advertisement expenditure is essential lo sustain and increase sales a Agora and break even. The fact that the general customers surveyed had only known about Agora after friends of relatives had visited the store, indicates that the advertising strategic of Agora is comparatively weak.v It must introduce more efficient techniques to avoid stock run outs that would negatively affect Agora’s image of providing “convenience”. This would help ensure perishables are always fresh a feature that highlighted by the store.
Agora is still not being able to accommodate enough customers. This is a general view of the customers surveyed, over half suggesting an increase. Unless this problem is solved quickly, the competitors of the store may take away those “unsatisfied” customers from Agora.
The costs of most perishables are very high compared to the general trend of the market. No matter how the marketing manager tries to explain their reasons behind this high price the customers would invariably tend to shift lo the sources that provide them at a lesser price if they do not feel that the price they are paying is worth the convenience.
The number of staff at the store should be increased because the customer feels that they spend more time to pay their shopping. This may be a source of more convenient of the customer.
Tanjila Hossain is a housewife. She often comes to Agora. She is very much pleased on this super market she says that the collection of product is very good. But sometimes the quality of goods is not fresh such as fish, meat loot, etc. She says that we face some trouble sometimes.
Agora’s main concept hinges on its ability to meet the needs of a more advanced society where the working wife prefers to make at-a-time purchases of daily needs less than one roof. Form a careful analysis of the ideas and marketing concepts at work in the operation of Agora, it has been possible to obtain an insight to the essential marketing practices adopted by such retail stores. In a highly volatile business environment the quest for excellence does not end easily. By adhering to proper marketing strategies and putting its target market in topmost priority, Agora has been able to edge towards competitiveness with few formidable rivals to challenge its present position Evidently, by virtue of its high quality” assurance, provision of a wide assortment of local and foreign products, and a touch of luxury to appeal to the mind of shoppers, Agora has been able to establish itself as a store that makes every effort to cater to customer satisfaction.
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