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From the desk of

Prof Shyam Vyas, Ph.D.


Bus 320 - Case # 1 - Bettcher Industries, Inc. due : 17th Jan.., 2019

__________________________________

Dan Buttner, marketing research manager for Bettcher Industries, Inc., was wondering how he
should respond to a letter he had just received from a marketing professor. In that letter the
professor had asked Mr. Buttner if he could provide, from his experience, examples of real-life
applications of marketing research for possible use in marketing research classes. Here are some
excerpts from the professor’s letter:

One of the greatest challenges that I continue to face as an instructor of marketing research is to
make students appreciate the reality of marketing research. Surveys of professionals like you
have consistently shown that fresh college graduates are too idealistic and technique-oriented;
that is, they are not fully aware of the practical limitations of the techniques and tools that they
learn in the classroom.

I am sure you would agree with me that a fruitful way of attempting to remedy this weakness in
students is to expose them to real-life applications of marketing research. Unfortunately, unlike
examples of different types of advertising or packaging, examples of actual applications of
marketing research are hard to come by.

Can you please send me any material(s), of a nonconfidential nature, that can help students gain
an understanding of marketing research practice?

COMPANY BACKGROUND

Bettcher Industries, Inc., located in Birmingham, Ohio, was founded in 1944 and incorporated in
1955. Bettcher designs and manufactures processing and portion control equipment for meat,
fish, and poultry. The company’s major product line is a wide range of machines for pressing,
forming, tenderizing, slicing, and portioning meats and related products. Markets for these
machines include meat-processing plants, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, caterers, and all
major food service organizations and food processors.

Bettcher holds a position of leadership in the meat industry and has a reputation for introducing
highly innovative products. Such products include a line of hand-held Whizard brand trimmers.
These air- and electric-powered devices can replace straight knives used in meat plants
throughout the United States and foreign nations. The company is also noted for its Whizard
brand protective wear, a line of accessories, such as safety gloves and arm protectors, of cut-
resistant fabric for use by meat processors, food stores, and general industrial/commercial food
processors. According to a company brochure, these gloves are made of a “space-age, seamless,
knitted fabric,” which consists of a stainless steel core encased in soft but high-strength textile.
Bettcher has sold Whizard Protective Wear to several hundred organizational customers in a
variety of industries. These customers include institutions such as John Deere, Levi Strauss, GE,
GM, Coors, IBM, Exxon, Safeway, RCA, Rath, Land O Lakes, the U.S. Postal Service, the
Texas Department of Corrections, Firestone, and J.C. Penney.

When Mr. Buttner received the professor’s request, Bettcher Industries had just signed an
agreement to acquire Sam Stein Associates of Sandusky, Ohio. Stein designs and manufactures
batter and breading equipment for proportioned meat, fish, and poultry. It also makes fryers,
cooking ovens, and snack-food-processing equipment. The product lines of the two companies
were believed to complement each other and appeal to similar markets. While Bettcher
equipment is used from the point of slaughter through portion control, Stein’s is an extension
past that point, with coating, breading, and cooking. According to officials at both companies:
“Our mutual technical facilities and complementary processing equipment greatly expands our
ability to give customers a total package of quality products and service expertise – all from the
same corporate source.” The combined sales of the two firms after the acquisition were estimated
to be in the range of $25 to $30 million.

MR. BUTTNER’S RESPONSE

While Mr. Buttner had conducted several research projects in the recent past, he did not have any formal
reports he could send to the professor. Therefore he decided to summarize the general research procedure
he employed rather than describe any one research project in detail. After reflecting a while about the
types of projects he most frequently conducted, he wrote the following letter to the professor :

Dear Professor:

The market research I do for Bettcher Industries is basic industrial research and rarely involves a
structured format, such as the highly statistically oriented consumer products market research. As you
suggest, it is somewhat difficult to provide documented research case histories that would explain a
research project from its inception to conclusion. Moreover what we do is quite confidential and we
usually do not let it out !!

In brief, the type of research I do typically starts with the open ended in-depth questions like : “Dan, how
big is the market for an X type of machine?” No formalized, step-by-step research procedure is drawn up;
there is no proposal or cost justification. I start by gathering some statistical data to quantify the market,
such as pounds of ham produced yearly in the country, number of firms producing turkey, head of cattle
slaughtered yearly. These data give me a feel for the upper limit. I collect a lot of what I call as secondary
data from reputable government sources. I then rely on various contacts in the government, trade
associations, trade magazines, and industry to further limit and quantify the market size, market growth,
market segments etc.. The information I am looking for includes who uses machines of this type, what
they do with them, how many they use.

This step is probably the most important part of industrial market research. Knowing who to call and
where to get information usually takes a long time – sometimes years. Developing the ability to get the
information after you have found the right person is also somewhat difficult. Sometimes your contact
changes or retires or moves to a different job.You get a lot of no answers before you develop the right
technique. I do most of this search by phone and some of it in person to person interactions – in-depth
interviews.

After I understand the market limitations, I contact potential end users and ask them specific questions,
such as: would you purchase a machine of this type? How much would you pay for it ? How would you
use it? Who else would have a need for this machine? How are you doing the job now?

Finally, I summarize these data, including companies and names of people contacted, and present an
estimate of market size to management, including all pluses and minuses I have discovered, such as
impending technological changes, competition, economic barriers. We do something called a sensitivity
analysis – best case scenario, worst case scenario and a likely scenario. We sit around a table and bring
our collective estimates and consensus and decide what the future holds !

Feel free to call me if you think I can be of more help.

Very truly yours,

Daniel A. Buttner, Marketing Research Manager

QUESTIONs for discussions / submission:

1. Could Bettcher benefit from using different research procedures or from conducting research
other than the way described in his letter?
What kind of research process and elements of that research process would you / your group
suggest ? Comment & discuss.
What have you learnt from this case ?
2. Compare the research steps used by Mr. Buttner with the components of the research process
/project discussed in class.
May be talk with a firm or two and find the kind of research steps they take and research they
undertake – and discuss – what really happens in the real-world !!
3. Would you classify the research process described in Mr. Buttner’s letter as exploratory or
descriptive or causal or a combination / blend of these ? Discuss.
4. Critically evaluate the type of marketing research conducted by Bettcher Industries. What are
its pluses and minuses? What is your personal / group’s view of Mr Buttner as a market
researcher and as a manager and a person– based on his letter response to the professor.
________________________________________________________________________end of Bus 320 MR Case due 17th Jan. , 2019