General Electric Marketing Case Study

General Electric Company (GE) maintains a stable and growing customer base through a marketing mix that incorporates strategies for diversification. General Electric’s generic strategy and intensive growth strategies influence this marketing mix. A company’s marketing mix or 4Ps is the set of strategies and tactics implemented for the purpose of fulfilling a marketing plan. These strategies pertain to the company’s product, place, promotion and price (4P) variables. In this case of GE, the target market is composed of customers in multiple industries, including the energy, oil and gas, electric lighting, aerospace, aviation, healthcare, and transportation industries. Considering such variety, GE’s marketing mix applies to various market conditions relevant to the multinational business. For example, the conditions of the aviation industry and the electric lighting industry are significant considerations in General Electric’s management. Also, market trends and changes influence GE’s marketing success. These trends depend on the dynamics of the conglomerate’s industries of operation. Appropriateness and responsiveness to industry trends are necessary in General Electric’s marketing mix success.

In applying the strategies and tactics of the marketing mix or 4Ps, General Electric Company’s management addresses the changing needs of various industries, with consideration for the external factors that affect the business and its remote or macro-environment (Read: PESTEL/PESTLE Analysis of General Electric Company). For example, product characteristics, place selection, promotion strategies, and price points are established based on market conditions and the dynamics of GE’s competitors like Siemens and 3M. To secure its status as one of the world’s biggest conglomerates, General Electric must ensure that its marketing mix suits the varying trends of its industries and markets.

General Electric’s Products (Product Mix)

Products are business outputs offered to target customers. This component of the marketing mix or 4P in General Electric Company’s case covers the products appropriate for various industries. For example, the company has products for the energy aerospace, aviation, healthcare, electric lighting, oil and gas, and transportation industries and their corresponding target markets. GE’s management strategies for marketing are developed to facilitate long-term development. Such development aligns with General Electric’s corporate vision and corporate mission. The vision and mission guide strategic formulation in product design and innovation. General Electric’s product mix includes the following product types:

  1. Appliances for business
  2. Aviation
  3. Capital
  4. Consumer electronics
  5. Critical power
  6. Digital energy grid modernization
  7. Energy connections
  8. Power project consulting services
  9. Appliances for consumers
  10. Healthcare
  11. Home improvement
  12. Industrial solutions
  13. Intelligent platforms
  14. Lighting for business
  15. Lighting for consumers
  16. Mining
  17. Oil and gas
  18. Personal healthcare
  19. Power
  20. Power conservation
  21. Power economics
  22. Power systems operation and planning
  23. Power systems software products
  24. Transportation

General Electric’s product mix is varied and reflects the degree of diversification of the business. For example, the company has aviation products and healthcare products, as well as products for the lighting market and the transportation market, among other markets. These products are competitive through quality and uniqueness. Also, GE uses diversification to grow the business. This component of the marketing mix involves strategic variation to represent each type of product. Such variation influences General Electric’s organizational structure and associated strategic management approaches. Changes in the conglomerate’s business strategies have refined its product mix. Nonetheless, diversification remains a major characteristic in this component of General Electric’s marketing mix or 4Ps.

Place/Distribution in GE’s Marketing Mix

The place component of the marketing mix or 4P refers to the venues where transactions between General Electric Company and its target customers occur. Typically, these business transactions involve purchases or sales. In this case, GE’s strategic management adjusts to the different characteristics of various locations in the global market. For example, the company’s marketing approach for distribution must consider the characteristics of the electric lighting market in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. Overall, General Electric’s marketing mix involves the following places for distribution:

  1. Authorized distributors and sales representatives
  2. GE online stores

Authorized distributors and sales representatives are the main places or venues that General Electric Company uses to distribute its products. For example, the company has distributors in Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Egypt, among other countries, for data center solutions, lighting contactors, transformers, and other products. Different markets require different management tactics for selling GE’s products. The conglomerate’s strategies are designed to ensure business competitiveness through appropriate distribution places. The company also has online stores for some of its operating segments, such as the GE Grid Solutions Online Store. The distribution approach in this component of General Electric’s marketing mix or 4Ps indicates reliance on entities that are authorized to represent the business in target markets.

General Electric Company’s Promotion (Promotional Mix)

The promotion component of the marketing mix or 4P sets the tactics for marketing communications to reach and persuade target customers. In General Electric’s case, these tactics prioritize direct marketing, which is typical in many of the various industries where the business operates. For example, firms in the digital healthcare equipment market use direct marketing as a main promotional tactic. Nonetheless, as a diversified conglomerate, GE uses its promotional tactics at varying extents, depending on market dynamics and related strategic management concerns. The following tactics are applied in General Electric Company’s promotional mix or marketing communications mix:

  1. Direct marketing (primary)
  2. Advertising
  3. Sales promotion
  4. Public relations

General Electric applies direct marketing as its primary tactic of promoting products in target markets. In the context of this marketing mix, direct marketing is used to promote GE’s digital products to organizations and practitioners in the healthcare industry. Similarly, the company directly markets its aviation products to airline companies around the world. On the other hand, advertising is used in some of General Electric’s target markets. For example, the conglomerate advertises its consumer appliances products, which are strategically managed under the Energy Connections & Lighting operating segment. In addition, GE implements sales promotion in the form of special offers to promote a variety of products, such as consumer appliances and electric lighting products. Also, public relations promote GE and its products through goodwill for the target market. In applying public relations, the corresponding tactics are aligned with General Electric’s corporate social responsibility strategy, which contributes goodwill. Promotional activities are dependent on and contribute to brand strength, which is one of the strengths of the business (Read: SWOT Analysis of General Electric Company). Thus, this component of GE’s marketing mix or 4Ps accounts for the nature of business transactions with other firms in various industries.

GE’s Prices and Pricing Strategies

This component of the marketing mix or 4P determines the price points and price ranges for General Electric Company’s products. The conglomerate’s strategic approach in this case is to consider market conditions and the types of products it offers. For example, GE sets its prices by evaluating supply and demand conditions in target markets for electric lighting products. This strategic approach ensures that the business remains strong against competitors like 3M and Siemens. General Electric’s management applies the following pricing strategies:

  1. Market-oriented pricing strategy
  2. Value-based pricing strategy

In the market-oriented pricing strategy, prices are set after an evaluation of prevailing market conditions. For example, General Electric’s prices for its consumer appliances are near or similar to the prices of competing appliances from other firms. This pricing strategy supports GE’s competitiveness and is appropriate to markets where customers have significant price sensitivity. On the other hand, in the value-based pricing strategy, General Electric’s focus is on the uniqueness of its products. For instance, the conglomerate sets relatively high prices for some of its healthcare products and aviation products. In product lines where value-based pricing is applied, customers are willing to pay higher for products that have higher perceived value. The combination of these pricing strategies influence business ability to withstand competitive rivalry, which is a strong force shown in the Porter’s Five Forces analysis of General Electric Company. In this regard, appropriate pricing is a strategic management concern for GE, especially because of its diversified operations. Overall, this component of General Electric’s marketing mix or 4Ps responds to competitive challenges.

References
  • Datta, H., Ailawadi, K. L., & van Heerde, H. J. (2017). How Well Does Consumer-Based Brand Equity Align with Sales-Based Brand Equity and Marketing-Mix Response? Journal of Marketing81(3), 1-20.
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  • General Electric Company – Form 10-K.
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  • General Electric Company – GE Grid Solutions Online Store.
  • General Electric Company – GE Healthcare Life Sciences – Distributors.
  • General Electric Company – GE Industrial Solutions – Where to Buy.
  • Goi, C. L. (2009). A review of marketing mix: 4Ps or more? International Journal of Marketing Studies1(1), 2.
  • Hisrich, R. D., & Ramadani, V. (2017). Entrepreneurial Marketing Mix. In Effective Entrepreneurial Management (pp. 75-99). Springer International Publishing.
  • Liu, Y., Li, K.J., Chen, H., & Balachander, S. (2017). The Effects of a Product’s Aesthetic Design on Demand and Marketing Mix Effectiveness: The Role of Segment Prototypicality and Brand Consistency. Journal of Marketing, 81(1), 83-102.
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  • U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration – Aerospace Spotlight – The Aerospace Industry in the United States.

Aerospace Industry, Aviation Industry, Case Study & Case Analysis, Electric Lighting Industry, Energy Industry, General Electric Company (GE), Healthcare Industry, Marketing, Marketing Mix (4Ps), Oil and Gas Industry, Transportation Industry

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GE obviously has some money behind it, but its marketing is not just about big above-the-line campaigns.

The brand has jumped on new platforms relatively early, and uses video and educational content to great effect.

Here are 10 examples of great GE marketing creative.

But just before we begin, I should mention that GE is among 200 speakers at this year's Festival of Marketing, which takes place in London on October 5-6. 

1. Raining octopuses mobile ad campaign

I thought I'd start with a mobile display ad from summer 2016, before we get stuck in to content and social media.

GE worked with Mobkoi's creative studio to launch an interactive full-screen ad - an octopus lands on the screen and the user is required to wipe away virtual ink in order to reveal a window in which the campaign video plays.

The video (watch it here) is a great bit of TV ad creative, with octopuses and a crocodile falling to earth in an un-godly shower; the GE tagline, 'ready for whatever you've got, world'.

You can play around with this native ad and its in-format functionality yourself on Mobkoi's website.

2. Instagram and #InstaWalk

GE has a popular Instagram account (approx. 250,000 followers) that's full to the rafters with beautifully crisp images from engineering and science.

For example, see the photo below of one of GE's locomotives, part of a series taken by a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer.

But GE does more than simply post lovely images - it uses Instagram as an outreach and engagement tool.

With #InstaWalk, which began in 2013 but has been run a number of times, GE invites influencers and super fans to take special tours of its various facilities.

On their walk round, all are encouraged to take photos of their experience and Instagram them. It's a concept that many other brands have emulated.

3. Unimpossible Missions

Some lovely video next from early 2016.

Three videos each attempt to disprove a popular expression, such as 'a snowball's chance in hell', by showcasing GE's technological expertise in experimental surroundings.

This video has raked in 500,000 YouTube views to date. The slightly grave tone to the voiceover, cinematic location and lighting, and the dramatic production all make for compelling content.

4. Pinterest

GE's Pinterest can be delightfully left of centre. Take the board titled 'Hey Girl', for example, with pinned pickup lines from GE scientists.

Other boards include 'Badass machines', 'That's genius', and 'Mind = Blown'.

5. #6SecondScience fair

Many of you may be familiar with #6SecondScience, GE's educational Vine-fest. The Vine embedded below proved particularly popular.

The science 'fair' ran in August 2013, with users invited to add the hashtag to their own efforts. Many users' Vines were hosted on the GE Tumblr created to host submissions.

Vine proved an effective platform for these quick bursts of educational inspiration, back when the six-second format was experiencing an upsurge of popularity.

The idea was notable as GE had already been creating educational Vines for a few months, but decided they could become a bigger campaign in their own right, with the introduction of this competition/crowdsourced style element.

6. #SpringBreakIt

More video now, and a fantastic example of social video.

GE showcased many of its material tests (crushing, wind erosion and drop loads) during spring of 2016, with individual videos of different items being destroyed.

Much like the 'Will it blend?' success for Blendtec, GE knew that breaking stuff provokes interest on social media.

I've embedded the compilation video here, for your pleasure.

7. Snapchat

GE took to Snapchat as early as July 2014, teasing a special guest announcement (Buzz Aldrin) in the run up to the 45th anniversary of the moon landing and adding some cartoony space drawings.

The brand has used Snapchat to engage directly with users, too. During #emojiscience week, GE encouraged users to send them an emoji then replied with a Snap of a relevant experiment performed in its pop-up lab.

In jumping aboard Snapchat early and using the platform to engage with younger users through educational content, GE shows it is not afraid to try something new in its marketing.

It continues to post Stories addressing a broad range of subjects.

8. What My Mom Does at GE

TV creative next. It's rare to see an advert that uses the naivety of children and doesn't stray into the twee or schmaltzy.

But GE manages it, inspiring childlike wonder through a series of imaginative animations based on (only slight) exaggerations of GE's work. 

9. GE Reports

From Snapchat to something that sounds more prosaic. GE Reports is a microsite hosting lots of debates, analysis and information.

The information is presented accessibly, using imagery and infographics.

Essentially this is just a news publishing hub for GE, with some guest content thrown in, but one that shows how active the company is in linking its work to wider trends.

Some of the content is republished from the brand's pressroom, and there are a few things that could be improved (such as text formatting), but it is impressive that GE is publishing regularly and offers an email newsletter subscription.

With a company built on knowledge and innovation, showcasing new thinking is important.

10. Emoji science with Bill Nye

Bill Nye was part of the Snapchat team that ran a pop-up lab sending experiments to Snapchat users (see point seven).

GE brought him back for a full web series where emojis are used to help explain scientific concepts.

There are five parts, and each helps to make science relatable for a younger generation.

They are smartly done and enjoyable even for a 30-something like me.

For more top marketing creative:

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