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Book and Popular Essay

1. Introduction Popular Holdings is a Singapore-based company that is listed on the Singapore Exchange. Popular is best known for its chain of Popular Bookstores under the Retail and Distribution unit. The Group currently carries out its publishing activities through subsidiaries operating in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Canada. Its bookstore operations have a network of over 90 Popular Bookstores and 360 Popular managed bookstores with its core businesses in retail, distribution, publishing and e-learning.

2. History of the Company |1924 |Popular started in Singapore under the trade name of Cheng Hing Company, established by the late Mr Chou Sing Chu. It distributed | | |Chinese storybooks. | |1930 |Established World Book Company in Singapore to distribute Chinese books and later moved into the publishing business. | |1936 |Established Popular Book Company in Singapore to sell Chinese books. | |1949 |Incorporated World Publishing Company in Hong Kong to publish magazines and Chinese books for both local and Asian markets.

| |1952 |Set up United Publishing House Pte Ltd in Singapore and Malaysia to publish textbooks. | |1975 |Started offering English titles in Singapore and was positioned as “The Bilingual Bookshop”. Business grew dramatically. | |1984 |Opened the first bilingual bookshop in Malaysia. | |1990 |Introduced the POPULAR Card to cultivate customer loyalty. | |1993 |Expanded the business scope by retailing music products and audio accessories under the brand name of “CD-RAMA”. | |1997 |Listed Popular Holdings Limited (“POPULAR”) on the Singapore Exchange.

| |2000 |Set up joint venture, EdnoLand (HK) Limited, to provide interactive learning programmes to preschool children. This signified the start | | |of the Group’s e-learning initiatives. | |2002 |Entered the e-learning market of Mainland China | |2003 |Incorporated a wholly-owned subsidiary, Popular Digital Products (Shenzhen) Ltd in January, leaving the first footprint in Mainland | | |China’s publishing market. | |2003 |Ventured into Taiwan publishing market. | |2006 |Successfully organized the inaugural [email protected] and [email protected], drawing over 400,000 visitors.

| |2008 |Successfully organized the inaugural [email protected] Kong 2008. | |2009 |Launched “UrbanWrite”—a lifestyle stationery concept store that goes beyond the basics. | |2009 |Opened a new concept bilingual bookstore { prologue } at ION Orchard. | |2010 |Celebrated the 5th anniversary of [email protected] and [email protected] Both BookFests managed to achieve record turnouts of over | | |half a million visitors each. | 3. Management Structure Popular Holdings has a centralized organizational structure. Mr Chou Cheng Ngok is the Executive Chairman of the Board.

In view of the Group’s single leadership structure, Mr Vangatharaman Ramayah was appointed as the Independent Director to lead and coordinate the activities of non-executive directors in circumstances where it would be inappropriate for the Chairman to serve in such capacity. The Independent Directors, Mr Vangatharaman Ramayah and Mrs Lim Soon Tze ensure that there is a good balance of power and authority to enable independent exercise of objective judgement of corporate affairs. All major decisions made by the Chairman are reviewed by the Audit Committee (chaired by Mr Vangatharaman Ramayah).

The Nominating Committee (chaired by Mrs Lim Soon Tze) reviews his performance periodically and the Remuneration Committee (chaired by Mr Vangatharaman Ramayah) reviews his remuneration package. Hence, the Board believes that there are adequate safeguards against an uneven concentration of power and authority in a single individual. For management purposes, the Group is organised on a worldwide basis into business units based on their products and services, and has four operating segments as follows: Retail and Distribution, Publishing and E-Learning, Property Development and Corporate.

Ms Lim Lee Ngoh and Mr Poon Chi Wai Ponch are the Executive Directors who are in charge of the performance of the businesses. [pic] 4. Markets Served 4. 1 Countries Served As of 30 April 2012, Popular had 148 bookstores – 63 in Singapore, 70 in Malaysia and 15 in Hong Kong. Popular is the biggest book retailer in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong (Chairman’s Statement, Annual Report 2012). Popular is making fast and extensive inroads into the Greater China market, especially in China and Taiwan. There have been marketing offices and subsidiaries set up in Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Taipei. 4.

2 Customer Groups Served Due to the various branches in its core business and the variety of products offered at retail stores, Popular serves different customers of all ages, including students who constitute a large portion of their customer base. Popular’s customers range from individual consumers to corporate groups. 5. Products Offered Popular has its core businesses in retail, distribution, publishing and E-learning. As stated in the 2012 Annual Report, “though the book business is often labelled a sunset industry, retail and distribution [of books] are one of Popular’s strong core businesses”.

Popular’s bookstores have products such as books (textbooks, assessment books, storybooks, reference books), CDs, DVDs, educational software, computer accessories, art materials, stationery, electronics, toys, games and gifts. 6. Recent Performance of the Company Popular Bookstore has been achieving increasing turnovers for 3 consecutive years. As seen in Fig 1. 1, Popular achieved a turnover of S$439 million in 2011 in its Retailing and Distribution sector, improving from the past results of 2010 and 2011.

The increase in turnover in the Retail and Distribution segment is mainly due to 9 new outlets opening in various locations in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong and the book voucher programme held in Malaysia, where Malaysian students were each given a book voucher worth RM$200 each as part of Malaysia’s government budget in the education sector. Also, the increased turnover is due to reduced costs – In 2010, Popular reduced costs by reducing its retail store space from15200m2 in 2009 to 13700m2 in 2010. Its Publishing and E-Learning sector is doing well as well, with its turnover increasing from S$69 million in 2011 to S$72 million in 2012.

Go-Easel is one of Popular’s initiatives which led to this increase in turnover. Go-Easel features digitalised assessment books which provides instant marking and step by step solutions. It gained popularity among students and parents due to its convenient and effective way in helping students academically. [pic] Profits before tax (PBT) in the Retail & Distribution of Popular Bookstore experienced a positive growth as shown in Figure 1. 2, with PBT of S$29 million in 2012, improving from S$19. 1 and S$10. 9 million in 2011 and 2010 respectively. However, there was a drop in PBT in the Publishing & E-Learning sector, decreasing about 24.

7%, from S$9. 7 million in 2011 to S$7. 3 million in 2012. This was due to the closing of one of its magazine distribution business due to restructuring. However, because this closure is only a one-off cost, the prospects of the Publishing & E-Learning sector in Popular Bookstore still remains hopeful for future growth and greater profits. [pic] 7. Macro-Environment Analysis 7. 1 Political Forces Education policies implemented by the government can improve Popular’s sales. For example, in Malaysia, as part of the budget allocated by the government in 2012, every student in Malaysia received a one-time book voucher worth RM$200.

This policy led to greater spending in bookstores by the Malaysian community. Popular was the biggest bookstore company with 70 bookstores in Malaysia, and so Popular experienced an increased turnover in 2012. However, governmental regulations may limit demand and reduce profit for Popular Bookstore. The Media Development Authority in Singapore prohibits any import of books, publication, audio materials that contains content that may be “objectionable on moral, racial or religious grounds, or deemed detrimental to Singapore’s national interest.

” (MDA, 2011) Thus, Popular Bookstore is restricted in their range of books and media as it has to comply with these regulations, causing it to lose some of its competitive edge to online E-books retailers. Book readers in Singapore may be able to purchase the restricted materials from these retailers, as these retailers are based overseas and are not restricted by the Singapore law. 7. 2 Economic Forces The relatively high inflation rate in Singapore (4. 1%) and Hong Kong (4.

0%) in 2012 and the bleak global economic outlook is fortunately, not much of a stumbling block for Popular Bookstore, with it achieving positive growth in its Retail and Distribution sector. This could also be attributed to the items that Popular sells, which are mostly books (Eg. Assessment books, textbooks)and stationery. The demand for these items has a small, positive value of income-elasticity because they are necessities and normal goods for students. Hence, a decrease in incomes due to poor economic conditions results in a less than proportionate decrease in demand for Popular’s books , thus Popular has not been badly affected.

7. 3 Social Forces In today’s world, many deem education as an important tool towards a better paying job and a better life. Thus, the spending on education, which includes spending on textbooks, stationery and assessment books, is increasing. For example, in Singapore, the consumer spending on education has been increasing at a steady rate, from US$ 84. 1 million in 2008 to US$155. 4 million in 2011. (GMID,2012). This shows that Singaporeans are increasing willing to spend on education-related items, such as textbooks and assessment books, to supplement the learning.

As a bookstore with a niche product market of assessment books and textbooks, Popular Bookstore is able to benefit from this trend of increased spending in education. With the relatively high inflation rates, especially in Singapore and Hong Kong, consumers are becoming more value conscious. Popular Bookstore has done well to cater to the demands of the consumers and projecting a ‘value for money’ image, by offering membership cards and promotions on their items on a regular basis. One of such promotions is the back-to-school promotion, allowing students and their parents to purchase stationery and books at discounted prices.

7. 4 Technological Forces The increasing connectivity of the Internet island wide (e. g. 4G mobile network and OpenNet in Singapore) has led to more online consumers. The size of the online shopping market is large, reaching S$1. 1 billion in 2010, and is expected to reach S$4. 4 billion in 2015. (Techinasia, 2011). This could possibly mean that customers who usually purchase from brick-and-mortar shops like Popular would now shop at online bookstores such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. While Popular does have an online bookstore, it is not well-known or often-used.

Thus, the presence of well-established international online bookstores become a substitute to Popular Bookstores. Also, the affordability of e-books can pose a threat to Popular’s sales of hardcopy books. The price of Kindle Fire, an e-book reader manufactured by Amazon, dropped to US$159, making it more affordable for consumers. Amazon uses the pricing strategy of loss leader, which involves setting the price of Kindle Fire at cost price, and making significant profit from the sale of e-books. Therefore, e-books have now become a substitute of hard-copy books, such as those sold by Popular.

7. 5 Legal Forces The introduction of the Lemon Law in Singapore in September 2012 could affect Popular Bookstores. With the lemon law, consumers can ask for an exchange or even a full refund if goods “do not meet standards of quality and performance. ” (CASE, 2012). This could mean decreased earnings for Popular Bookstore if consumers keep returning to the bookstores to exchange their purchased goods. Without proper enforcement or monitoring, the Lemon Law could even be abused by consumers who repeatedly demand for an exchange or refund, leading to a loss of efficiency and profits.

However, Popular is unlikely to be threatened by the Lemon Law, as it already has an exchange policy in place, where it allows its customers to exchange faulty products within 7 days of purchase. 7. 6 Impact of Macro-Environment Forces on Popular Bookstores Popular Bookstore still remains a strong name in the book industry. The fact that it has the majority of the market share in Singapore and that the company’s PBT has been steadily increasing proves that the company has been staying competitive despite the huge number of macroenvironment factors it faces. 8. Market, Industry and Competitive Analysis for Book Buyers in Singapore

Our selected market is the market of book buyers in Singapore. These include customers who buy books from both physical bookstores and online bookstores. 8. 1 Market Size The market for book-buyers is that of an oligopoly, with few incumbent firms. Hardcopy book format is still a multi-million dollar industry in Singapore going strong in the face of stiff competition from online book stores. The total market size of brick-and-mortar stores is worth around $165million. In 2011, Popular Bookstores hold about 62. 5% of the total market share, with Kinokuniya (25%) and Times Bookstores (12. 5%) as Popular’s main competitors. 8. 2 Market Trends.

Popular Bookstores is still experiencing a growing trend as its value sales grew from $4,106 million in 2006 to $5,107 million in 2011. This may be due to the growing affluence of the Singaporean population, resulting in higher demand for books for both leisure reading and education. However, this trend might not continue in the future. This is in light of stiff competition faced from e-books and online stores such as Amazon, Book Depository. Fortunately, Bookstores like Borders and Page One have all exited the Singapore market and thus there is less competition from these large, well-established firms with Popular Bookstores.

8. 3 Industry SWOT Analysis for Book Buyers in Singapore | |Positive Effect |Negative Effect | |Interna|Strengths |Weaknesses | |l |Popular has a widespread chain of stores throughout Singapore, |Low variety of books as compared to other bookstores such as | |Factors|especially in the heartlands. This makes it very accessible and |Kinokuniya | | |convenient for the customers. |Lack of awareness of its online bookstore | | |Wide range of textbooks and stationery with very strong monopoly power |“Limited choice” of books on its online bookstore (e.g. Twilight, | | |over assessment books and textbooks |Lord of the Rings, Animal Farm) | | |

Existence of { prologue } and Epilogue ( a book cafe located in { |“Poor interface” (Survey, 2012) of online bookstore | | |prologue } ) to provide an alternative book-buying experience: ‘a novel|Absence of a proper feedback system on its online bookstore | | |brand of book retail therapy, distinctively designed to give a bespoke |Under-utilization of Facebook page resulting in inactivity and | | |multifaceted lifestyle experience’.

|unresponsiveness | | |{ prologue } was awarded the Premium Service GEM Award for the Books | | | |and Stationery Category by the Singapore Retailers Association in | | | |recognition of POPULAR’s effort in delivering excellent customer | | | |service. (Chairman’s Statement, Annual Report 2012) | | |Externa|Opportunities |Threats | |l |

Growing incomes of book-buyers lead to greater demand for books for |Local brick-and-mortar competitors such as Kinokuniya are trying | |Factors|leisure and education |to improve their presence by setting up a fourth store in Jurong | | |Many of the target audience are tech-savvy but have yet to purchase |East MRT (JEM) to reach out to more customers.

| | |e-book readers such as Kindle or Nook |Due to technological advancement, the Popularity and accessibility| | |Well-established firms like Borders and Page One have previously left |of online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository) and| | |the Singapore market, reducing the amount of competition |e-books is decreasing the demand for hardcopy books at physical | | | |stores | |

8. 4 Detailed Industry Analysis of Bookstores | | |Physical Stores |Online Stores | | |Kinokuniya |Second-hand Bookstores |Amazon/Barnes & Noble |Book Depository | |Description |Kinokuniya bookstores are located in central city |Various second-hand bookstores in Singapore |Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are American online retail |Book Depository is a UK-based | | |locations, with its flagship store located at Ngee Ann |sell many classic and contemporary titles at |giants specialized in selling books in both hardcopy and |independent online bookstore | | |City. Kinokuniya offers a wide range of titles and also a |extremely cheap prices.

|e-book formats. They are grouped discussed together in this |which sells mainly hardcopy | | |cafe within its store. |There are many second-hand bookstores in Bras|table due to their similar characteristics. |formats. | | | |Basah Complex. (Eg. Evernew Bookstore, Pro | | | | | |Saint Bookstore, Book Point, Knowledge Book | | | | | |Centre) | | | |Strengths |Offers a wide selection of titles in various languages | Extremely cheap prices will attract |They own an ecosystem of their own through their Kindle and |Provides free shipping services, | | |including English, Chinese, Japanese, French, and German |consumers looking for a good read.

|Nook tablet products that allow readers to buy e-books and |which allows prices of books to | | |Successfully marketed itself as a premium bookstore in |Good for casual reading, if the reader is not|download it to their tablet reader immediately. |remain cheap | | |Singapore with majority of its stores in the city area. |looking for a particular title |Online stores result in decreased operational fixed costs such|Occasional discounts of up to 90%| | |Niche market focus on casual book readers | |as rental charges and staffing costs compared to |makes books very cheap | | |

Premium membership strategy i.e. More expensive membership| |brick-and-mortar stores. Therefore, they are able to sell | | | |card ($21) offering limited discounts to entice consumers | |both e-books and hardcopy formats at a discounted rate. | | | |to purchase more titles to get back their money’s worth. | |Extremely wide collection of titles. | | | | | |It is easy to search for titles because the search process is | | | | | |automated.

| | |Weaknesses |Books are priced higher than its competitors due to its |Limited range of titles, especially newer |Penetration of their respective ecosystems are not widespread |It is relatively unknown to the | | |premium branding and higher rental costs in the city |titles, consumers looking for specific books |in Asia |crowd in Singapore. | | |Limited market penetration due to its limited number of |may not be able to find what they want. |Shipping costs and waiting time negates the benefits of online| | | |stores.

| |shopping as price of shipping from America is usually high. | | | | | |Asian titles are not as diverse / rich as they are | | | | | |America-based. | | 8. 5 Competitive Analysis –Using Porter’s Five Forces 8. 5. 1 Threat of New Entrants The threat of new entrants in the physical bookstore industry is relatively low because there are low barriers to entry. This is due to strong customer loyalty to established players like Popular and Kinokuniya dominating the market, high sunk costs and economies of scale setting in late.

Also, the book industry is also deemed as a “sunset industry”, which is less attractive to firms as this is associated with low profitability, so firms are less likely to enter the market. However, these low barriers to entry only apply to the industry of physical bookstores. Popular still faces a different kind of competition from online bookstores, which are close competitors with physical bookstores. 8. 5. 2 Degree of Substitutes There is a high degree of substitutability.

In terms of physical bookstores, book buyers in Singapore have many alternatives to turn to – such as big industry players like Kinokuniya and Times and second-hand stores at Bras Basah Complex. Kinokuniya and Times are strong competitors because they offer a greater variety of books from different countries, and have marketed themselves as premium bookstores due to their location in the city area. Second-hand bookstores at Bras Basah Complex (Eg. Evernew Bookstore, Pro Saint Bookstore, Book Point, Knowledge Book Centre) are also a threat because they offer very cheap books.

Besides physical stores, online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Book Depository are dominating the book-buying market in Singapore. These online bookstores offer a quick and easy way to purchase books without being physically at the store, and the benefit of having purchases delivered to customers’ doorsteps. E-businesses can also offer more competitively-priced books than Popular because there is no need to pay for rental, which takes up a huge proportion of fixed cost. For example, Amazon sells a book titled “Act of Valour” at $9. 99, whereas Popular sells the same book at $17.

00. Furthermore, with an increased access to fast and free internet services such as those offered by [email protected], and the availability of safe and convenient electronic payment, e-businesses are becoming closer substitutes to physical bookstores than ever before. 8. 5. 3 Bargaining Power of Buyers The bargaining powers of buyers are relatively low in terms of physical book stores. They have little access to information such as the prices of books, because physical bookstores do not openly publish their prices online, except when there are promotions.

Also, most bookstores located in a certain region would sell books at similar prices, so customers who are unwilling to travel would have a low tendency to switch to other physical bookstores if the switching cost exceeds the savings gained from only slightly cheaper books. However, the increased popularity of online bookstores is likely to increase the bargaining power of buyers. Buyers become less dependent on existing channels (ie. Physical bookstores) and can now switch to purchasing books online instead. 8. 5.

4 Bargaining Power of Suppliers There is low bargaining power of suppliers. In terms of the book-buying market, Popular Bookstores’ suppliers are mainly publishing firms. Because there are many suppliers in the market that engage in publishing work, there is a low supplier to firm ratio. This means that Popular Bookstore can switch suppliers easily. Furthermore, there is low switching costs for Popular because they can easily turn to their own subsidiaries such as Novum Organum Publishing House Pte Ltd and Educational Publishing House Pte Ltd.

Also, there is low supplier competition because it is hard for suppliers to vertically integrate and sell the products to buyers directly. Therefore, suppliers have a low bargaining power, which strengthens Popular’s position and authority. 8. 5. 5 Degree of Market Rivalry Amongst Existing Competitors There is a strong intensity of market rivalry amongst existing competitors like Times, Kinokuniya, and second-hand bookstores. This is because there is a lot of room for differentiation in terms of the four elements in the marketing mix.

Product differentiation can come in the form of the variety of books, in terms of the subject matter and country of origin. Price differentiation can also be present as some bookstores have higher priced books due to their well-known brand name or location. Place differentiation can be in terms of the store environment and store location, while promotion differentiation can be in terms of level of advertising, frequency of discounts, customer access to publicity materials and staff service standards.

Therefore, bookstores face much competition amongst themselves because there are so many ways that they can differentiate themselves in providing the optimal book-buying experience for book-buyers in Singapore. 9. Customer Analysis and Segmentation for Book Buyers in Singapore 9. 1 Customer Profile: Book Buyers in Singapore The selected market of focus for Popular is book buyers in Singapore. Potential book buyers are any literate customers in the country, from 6 years-old onwards (Stuart, 2010).

This customer base is continuously growing, albeit at a slow rate due to the low fertility rate in Singapore (Wong, 2012). Majority of Singaporeans are literate (Department of Statistics Singapore, 2012) as they have basic primary education which is mandatory for all citizens (Ministry of Education Singapore, 2011). In addition, an influx of foreign talents from other countries to support Singapore’s infrastructure and economy (Yeoh & Lin, 2012) also increases the number of book buyers in Singapore. The incomes of book buyers can be inferred from the Singapore Department of Statistics.

The average monthly household from work including employer CPF contributions among resident employed households in 2011 was S$9,618, while the average monthly household income from work per household member including employer’s CPF contributions among resident employed households was S$2,925. These incomes have a generally increasing trend from past years, and were the highest in 2011, reflecting the increasing affluence of book buyers. Because books are normal goods, an increasing income of customers would increase the demand for books.

However, since the selected market of focus is solely referring to individuals, businesses or organizations are not included and revenues are not considered. To develop an effective marketing strategy, it is essential to understand the targeted customer base and its segments. Comprehensive profiles of a company’s target customers are often required, and this is done by expending resources to segment these target customers. Book buyers can be segmented according to demographic and psychographic factors. 9.

2 Demographic Segmentation Popular segments its market by key variables such as gender, age, education, race, nationality and the family life cycle. For the identification variable of gender, books relating to beauty and the domestic sphere such as recipe books cater more to women, while the genre of sports and cars appeal more to men. In terms of age, segmentation is characterized by one’s life cycle, as exemplified by pre-school books, children books, teenage fiction and magazines, adult fiction and self-help books, etc.

The company’s philosophy of knowledge and education (Chua, 2010) has been manifested in the common sentiment that Popular’s niche is in assessment books and textbooks (Survey, 2012) and is a large portion of the customer base of book buyers. This demonstrates how the market is segmented by education, as books are tailored to the needs of students in each stage of education – primary, secondary and tertiary, and also for students in different disciplines – business, finance, management, etc. The market is also segmented by race, as there are books in different languages such as English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

The variety of books in the Singapore & South East Asia and Asian Collections also show that the market is simultaneously segmented by nationality as well. Finally, the family life cycle is also an important variable as Popular’s books cater to the needs of different families at different parts of the cycle, providing books on sports and leisure for families without children, and books on parenting and health for families with children, etc. 9. 3 Psychographic Segmentation The identification variables of personality, lifestyle and social class also come into play for the selected market of book buyers.

Based on the variety of genres provided by Popular such as fiction, classics and literature, comics and humour, astrology and new age and self-improvement, it can be seen that Popular designs its catalogue to appeal to different people with distinct personalities. Likewise, in the culturally diverse Singapore with an inherent cosmopolitan lifestyle, Popular recognizes the importance of suiting the needs of various individuals by offering a selection of books for every lifestyle, such as books on cooking or food and wine, outdoors and nature, photography, travel, etc.

The different social classes have also led to Popular’s expansion in the market, as illustrated by the novel brand of book retail therapy seen in { prologue } (Popular Holdings Limited, 2009) to cater to the higher-income class, which has an “upscale identity” that is “quite different from the family-oriented, fluorescent-lit heartlander look and feel that Popular bookstores have come to embody” (Lui, 2009). 10. Marketing Objectives Popular’s main objective is to establish a strong regional presence by becoming a Central Clearing House for both English and Chinese books in the Asia Pacific Region (Popular’s Strategic Vision 2012).

As such, their marketing objective is to offer a wide variety of books with relevant, unique, and good quality content at value-for-money prices. (Popular’s Strategic Vision, 2012). Next, Popular aims to differentiate itself from both brick-and-mortar bookstores and online bookstores which both serve the same book-buying market. This is especially important because Popular is in an oligopolistic market and faces strong competition. These brick-and-mortar bookstores include the well-established Kinokuniya, Times and Big Bookshop, and second-handbook stores, while online bookstores include Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thus, Popular’s marketing objective is to capture a larger market share through differentiation. Lastly, in terms of the variety of books, Popular aims to be the largest and most innovative publisher of bilingual books (Popular’s Strategic Vision, 2012). It attracts publishers like Seashore Publishing (M) Sdn. Bhd. to Singapore, which dominates the market for bilingual cookbook and general-interest Mandarin books. Through its books, Popular also intends to promote the Chinese language, heritage and culture.

For instance, Popular organised the National Chinese Creative Reading Competition during the [email protected] 2011 to ‘make students more aware [of] and stimulate their interest in Chinese culture and heritage through creative reading’ (Chairman’s Statement, Annual Report 2012) 11. Marketing Strategy / Mix 11. 1 Branding and positioning Popular portrays an image that it is a one-stop station where consumers are able to find whatever they need. This image is especially relevant since Popular’s main target group is the masses who usually read best-selling books written by well-known authors.

To capture a larger consumer market and establish a strong regional presence, Popular has also ventured into overseas markets such as Malaysia, Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 11. 2 Price Popular has adopted different pricing strategies for Popular and Prologue. Prologue has adopted a premium price position for their products. This strategy of prestige pricing is appropriate as Prologue is targeted at the higher end consumers who would be willing to pay higher prices. On the other hand, Popular has adopted mainstream price position for their products.

The products offered by Popular is at a rather affordable price since it is mainly targeting the majority of the population. Furthermore, Popular offers products at competitive prices compared to other bookstores. With its membership card, Popular offers further discounts on the prices of its products and this further enhances its competitiveness in the industry. In addition, Popular’s membership card can be acquired at a low cost (e. g. $20 for 3-year membership for students), as compared to other bookstores, such as Kinokuniya ($55. 60 for 3-year membership).

11. 3 Product Popular believes that in order to stay relevant with changing consumers’ taste and preferences, they should continue to innovate by selling new products. Hence, in 2009, Popular opened ‘UrbanWrite’ and ‘{ prologue }’. UrbanWrite, “a lifestyle stationery concept store that goes beyond the basics”, offer slightly different products such as scrap book materials, stationaries that are not available at Popular Bookstore. With new concept stores under Popular, such as { prologue } and UrbanWrite, it is pertinent to ensure that Popular does not lose its identity as a one-stop station to avoid confusion amongst its consumers.

 

 


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