CASE STUDY – Global Differences in Marketing

Dell’s vision is to “strive to provide the best possible customer experience by offering superior value; high-quality, relevant technology; customized systems; superior service and support; and differentiated products and services that are easy to buy and use”.
The core elements of the strategy which are evident in Dell’s marketing communications are:
* “We simplify information technology for customers. Making quality personal computers, servers, storage, and services affordable is Dell’s legacy. As a result of direct relationships with customers, or “customer intimacy,” it is best positioned to simplify how customers implement and maintain information technology and deliver hardware, services, and software solutions tailored for their businesses and homes.
* We offer customers choice. Customers can purchase systems and services from Dell via telephone, kiosks, and website,, where they may review, configure, and price systems within the entire product line; order systems online; and track orders from manufacturing through shipping.
* Customers can purchase custom-built products and custom-tailored services. Historically flexible, build-to-order manufacturing process enabled Dell to turn over inventory every five days on average, thereby reducing inventory levels, and rapidly bring the latest technology to its customers.
Dell’s sales and marketing
Dell sells products and services directly to customers through dedicated sales representatives, telephone-based sales, and online at Customer segments include large corporate, government, healthcare, and education accounts, as well as small-to-medium businesses and individual consumers.
Dell stresses the importance of its direct business model in providing direct and continuous feedback from customers, thereby allowing them to develop and refine our products and marketing programs for specific customer groups.
Dell emphasizes how it listens to customers to develop relevant innovative technology and services they trust and value. Evidence for using the participative nature of Web 2.0 is that customers can offer suggestions for current and future Dell products, services, and operations on an interactive portion of the Dell website called Dell Idea Storm. It says: “This constant flow of communication, which is unique to our direct business model, also allows us to rapidly gauge customer satisfaction and target new or existing products”.
For large business and institutional customers, Dell maintains a field sales force throughout the world. Dedicated account teams, which include field-based system engineers and consultants, form long-term relationships to provide their largest customers with a single source of assistance and develop specific tailored solutions for these customers. Dell also maintain specific sales and marketing programs targeted at federal, state, and local governmental agencies as well as specific healthcare and educational markets.
Dell Premier
For its large organizational customers, Dell offers Premier ( which is a secure, customizable procurement and support site or extranet designed to save organizations time and money through all phases of I/T product ownership. The main benefits of Dell Premier are described as:
* Easy Ordering – A custom online store ensures access to your products at your price.
* Easy Tracking – View real-time order status, online invoices and purchase history details.
* Easy Control – Custom access groups define what users can see and do within Premier.
Marketing communications
Dell markets its products and services to small-to-medium businesses and consumers primarily by advertising on television and the Internet, advertising in a variety of print media, and by mailing a broad range of direct marketing publications, such as promotional pieces, catalogues, and customer newsletters. In certain locations, they also operate Dell stores or kiosks, typically located within shopping centres, which allow customers to view products in person and purchase online with the assistance of a Dell expert.
Dell Online marketing Communications
Dell will invest in strategic improvements to the site to improve, examples mentioned include New merchandising approaches such as Customer Ratings & Reviews, Videos, Major ‘path’ or customer journey changes created through Decision support tools to “Help me choose”. There are also more tactical initiatives to help deliver the right message to each customer including Customisation / personalization, Real estate optimization and Message Balancing.
More tactical persuasion of site visitors is based on Price moves / optimised price position to market and the mix of product features. A wide range of different offers need to be managed. Tactical promotions which are driven by promotional “end dates” which are weekly or bi-weekly include varying:
* Free shipping
* Money off discounts
* Free upgrades (e.g. memory)
* Free accessories
* Finance offers
* Service upgrades
This is how Dell summarises the main differences between customers:
* Dell UK – all about price
* Dell Switzerland (CH) – add value over price
* Dell Germany (DE) – all about high-end products in mix
* Dell Itally (IT) – design is important (!)
* Dell Nigeria (NIG) – cheap is good
* Dell Norway (NO) – added value is key
* Dell India (AND) – tailored for France
Dell digital media channels
The main digital media channels used by in Europe are:
* Paid search through programmes such as Google Ad Words is used to promote value through time limited offers related to the phrase searched upon. For example, a Google search for “cheapest Dell” displays an ad: Discount Dell Laptops Save up to £300 on selected Dell Laptops from £329. Buy online now!
* Display advertising for example advertising on technology web sites is particularly important for the corporate market
* Affiliate marketing – used to protect the Dell brand by enabling affiliates to bid on terms such as “Dell laptops” and to target niche audiences such as owners of gaming machines.
* Email marketing – an e-newsletter is used to keep in touch with existing customers and deliver targeted offers when their hardware may be renewed.
Dell and indirect channels
Although the focus of Dell’s business strategy has been selling directly to it’s customers, it also uses some indirect sales channels when there is a business need. In the U.S. we sell products indirectly through third-party solution providers, system integrators, and third-party resellers.
During financial year 2008, Dell began offering Dimension desktop computers and Inspiron notebook computers in retail stores in the Americas and announced partnerships with retailers in the U.K., Japan, and China. Dell says: “These actions represent the first steps in our retail strategy, which will allow us to extend our business model and reach customers that we have not been able to reach directly”.