4.3.1 Social Entrepreneur
The founder of Puki’s, Xiao Liang, used to work for an advertising company. Xiao Liang learned sign language and met many deaf students in the process of participating in an experience session at a sign language student club at local schools, where he was asked to deliver a design course. Xiao Liang, a very ambivalent man used his experiences and knowledge he gained from those deaf students he met to contribute to both to those in need ans a generally to society.
Xiao Liang is a person bold and audacious enough to practice his ideas regardless of what consequences or thoughts others may think of him. For example, he resigned from a lucrative job at a marketing company, entering a non-profit organization to pursue his great dream of marketing a non-profitt organization (NPO). The NPO Xiao Liang worked for had been commissioned a design case by the government. At the time, the NPO did not have a design team, so Xiao Liang out-sourced the case to the deaf students he knew for the school for the deaf he previously visited. To his surprise, the outcome of the design is acclaimed by his peers and all-round well received. Xiao Liang recognized that, although many of the graduates from design schools for the deaf were all-round outstanding students, the job opportunities which these graduates had a available were very limited or often unrelated to the specification of the students. Xiao Liang knew that such outstanding students, despite her inability to see, deserved more hopefully future. Xiao Liang founded a design company that employs deaf designers to ameliorate this problem, creating job opportunities for these outstanding applicants.
In the early stages of founding Puki, Xiao Liang’s idea proved much more successful than he had originally thought, attracted much talent. In the beginning, Xiao Liang only had bare ideas, without proper resources and partners. Nonetheless, he carried on designing his company logo and printed his business cards. Xiao Liang presented the preceding and his ideas to Ding Li, vice director of a social enterprise incubator called NPI. Ding li was immediately attracted to Puki’s social innovation concept. Simultaneously, NPI’s Nest project was also recruiting social enterprises providing serviced to the disabled. NPI provides incubation service and office space to those enterprise partners chosen. With Ding li’s approval and the service provided by the NPI, Xiao Liang successfully founded Puki in the Shanghai Social Innovation Incubation Park.
Xiao Liang founded a social enterprise, instead of an NPO. The distinguishing benefit is that a social enterprise can generate its own source of income and profit. And benefit of starting Puki as a social enterpise is that Xiao Liang would not be limited by several laws and formalities set by the government and various foundations that would slow and hinter Xiao Liang for achieving his ambitions with Puki.
4.3.2 Customer Segments
Originally, Puki planed to have a target customer audience like that of other NPOs with a design outsourcing demand to be their target customer. However, since more than 80 percent of Puki’s customers are for-proft enterprises, this was not the case. Xiao Liang draws comparison, noting that, although for NPO customers, what prices Puki charge are usually higher than other street printing stores, for enterprise customers, on the other hand, prices are considerably lower for their comparable quality. Puki is more popular for corporate customers than NPO customers, following suit Most of Puki’s corporate customers can be placed into the three following categories: the pharmaceutical industry (e.g. Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson, etc.), Banking Industry (e.g. DBS), and foundations.
4.3.3 Value Proposition
Puki hired many deaf designers, with 75 percent of Puki designers being deaf. This employment stategy allows Puki to provide design services for customers, while at the same time providing employment opportunities to those qualified deaf persons, thus aiding towards alleviating one area of social inequality.
4.3.4 Revenue Stream
Puki’s revenue is mainly generated and collected through various designing service fees. With these services fees, Puki has been able to break more than even with its yearly revenue is approximately 800 thousand RMB, accumulating a profit is that is about 20 percent costs.
4.3.5 Social and Environmental Benefit
In addition to creating job opportunities in design offices, Puki also provides a free training program for deaf students called “1+1.” Puki also matches deaf students with internship opportunities of major companies.
Besides creating job opportunities for the qualified deaf persons inside the company itself, Puki also furnishes opportunities outside the company. Puki provides 320 hours of skill training related programs and over 150 hours of career training programs. Although only about 50 percent of deaf applicants are actually taken up as employees, Xiao Liang believes that the opportunity of “building the self-confidence for deaf people” is much more important than the efficiency of creating jobs.
Puki’s main channel is its platform at the Shanghai Social Innovation Incubation Park.
4.3.7 Customer Relationships
Xiao Liang considers customer relationships with Puki structurally relatively passive. Most of customers were already aware of Puki when they visited Puki’s location at the Shanghai Social Innovation Incubation Park. Many customers come to Puki on their own regard, recognizing its value and desiring business intercourse with them.
4.3.8 Key Sources
The key resources of Puki are the deaf talents that they recruit. Despite having certain restrictions due to their disability, deaf designers often have the outstanding talent to stay concentrated on what they are designing. To some extent, Puki’s special mission to employ qualified deaf applicants is a type of social innovation, turning a commonly seen disadvantage into an inside business advantage. Puki works around the obsticles they face employing deaf persons, taking that do not require creative design projects that require listening and speaking abilities, but rather graphic design and layout designs where the high concentration advantage can be fully taken actualized.
4.3.9 Key Activities
The primary business activity of Puki is design. Puki’s team is equipted with one third hearing and two thirds deaf designers. Their enterprise provides design services comprises: (1) “brand management communication,” (2) “graphic design,” (3) “corporate image design,” (4) “exhibition planning and implementation,” and (5) “web pages and multimedia design.”
4.3.10 Key Partners
The most important partner of Puki is its incubator-NPI, who support Puki with space and business opportunities. Other partners include consultants foundations and deaf schools. Table 16 lists the partners of Puki.
Puki’s main costs are, one, the salary of its designer and, two, office rent.
4.3.12 Social and Environmental Cost
Xiao Liang believes that everything has two sides: Puki is no exception. Puki’s model, on one hand, creates many job opportunities for deaf persons and credited with social innovation and value, but, on the other hand, there is much controversy whenever Puki lays off designers, naturally as many are deaf. The public regards Puki as a chartable and responsible organization, yet there are persistent negative responses to the layoffs. Puki being a social enterprise, however, lay-offs are a necessary part of maintaining Puki. These negative responses are partly due to a lack of understanding of the ways in which social enterpirses function. Xiao Liang furthers this mentioning that most social enterprises highly depended on their founders, and often many social enterprises cannot be as well maintained and sustainable once the founder of the enterprise leaves.
This is the last post of this blog series which includes the case study. The case study helps portray the theoretical concepts that have been covered in the previous blog posts: the strategy, the business model canvas, and the implementation.
The current strategy
The case study follows the example of the fictitious organization Travel Co. This organization is a travel agency which has recently been experiencing some troubles with generating enough revenues to sustain itself.
There are three main competitors in the market that divide between them equally the majority of the market share: Travel Co., JourneyTime, and Tourism Inc. All three agencies have been experiencing problems since the financial crisis started. In order to be able to remain competitive in the current market, Travel Co. will need to try to adjust their strategy.
According to the Value Propositions model, the current competitive strategies of the three main competitors in the market are as follows:
- Travel Co.: complementary products and services (Product leadership)
- JourneyTime: excellent customer service and support (Customer intimacy)
- Tourism Inc.: online purchase and payment of tickets (Operational excellence)
The Travel Co. agency relies heavily on the perceived value of their offering to their customers. They offer complementary products and services that help their customers arrange an all-inclusive travel destination (accommodation, transport, informational materials about the chosen destination, etc.).
For the past few years, Travel Co. has been employing the same business model which served the same general strategy. Until recently, their chosen path has been highly successful. The first step in helping the agency adjust to the new environment is to look at their current business model.
- Value proposition: all-inclusive travel packages, customization, services (e.g. travel insurance, pick-up service), average prices, seasonal dependent offering
- Channels: direct -> front office, website (mainly promotional)
- Customer segments: Niche market -> customers that desire a customized all-inclusive travel destination
- Customer relationships: personal assistance of staff in the front office
- Revenue streams: sales of travel packages, commissions from tour operators, hotels, resorts, etc.
- Key activities: sales, marketing, finding and designing new travel packages, CRM
- Key resources: skilled employees, good reputation and brand name
- Key partners: airlines, hotels, resorts, tour operators, insurance providers
- Cost structure: Salaries, marketing, rent and utilities
The business model by itself can only provide a limited amount of reconfiguration options for the agency. In order to be able to make a transformation, we need the help of strategic models such as the SWOT analysis and Confrontation Matrix, or of the Blue Ocean Strategy.
The SWOT analysis with the Confrontation Matrix can help generate strategic options that are based on the competitive forces within the industry, which can help Travel Co. outperform its competitors. The Blue Ocean strategy can help the agency move away from the competition towards a niche market. If this is successful, it will mean that Travel Co. will no longer have direct competition from the other travel agencies. This is a riskier approach, but if it succeeds, it will generate higher returns. The choice of using either of these approaches is up to each organization. For this case study, I will exemplify the use of the first approach.
In order to use the SWOT analysis effectively we need to know enough information about both the internal and external environments of the agency. The Business Model Canvas provides sufficient information about the internal environment of the organization, but not enough about the external environment. Here is where the Five Forces analysis and the PEST analysis come into play.
With the help of the Five Forces analysis, we can take a look at the competitive tension within the industry by analyzing the level of several types of threats: new entrants, substitute products, industry rivalry, bargaining power of customers, and of suppliers.
- Threat of new entrants (low): medium capital costs of entry, medium acceptability of new brands, market is stagnating
- Threat of substitute products (high): two main alternatives from the main competitors (better services from JourneyTime, online purchasable tickets from Tourism Inc.), low switching costs
- Industry rivalry (medium): two large competitors, smaller agencies going bankrupt, market is stagnating
- Bargaining power of customers (high): highly segmented market, loyalty programs, low brand affinity
- Bargaining power of suppliers (low): many alternatives, low switching costs between suppliers, airlines remove commission fees, reduced amount of air fares
From this we can see that the main two concerns for Travel Co. are the threat of substitute products offered by their two main competitors, and the bargaining power of their customers which can relatively easily use the services of another agency if their needs are not fully satisfied.
The industry analysis helps put context to the external environment analysis but does not offer the complete information regarding the factors that can influence the agency. The PEST analysis helps complete the picture with information about the threats and opportunities from the agencies macro-environment: political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological. There are also more extensive versions of the PEST analysis which include additional factors to be analysed, such as: Legal, Environmental, Ethical, and Demographic. The choice of using the standard PEST analysis or the extended version depends on the type of organization using it and their interests. For this case study I will portray the use of the standard PEST analysis.
- Political: political instability, elections coming soon
- Economic: increase in unemployment, economic slowdown, increase in inflation
- Socio-cultural: all-inclusive vacations are perceived as a luxury
- Technological: noise pollution from airplanes is receiving more awareness
- Political: minimum wage law
- Economic: better infrastructure, three new booming destinations
- Socio-cultural: increase in number of retired people, air transportation seen as safe, increased demand in three areas of the country
- Technological: information and communication innovations, innovations for air travel (higher speed, lower cost, higher capacity, longer distances)
From the macro-environmental analysis, we can see that one of the most influential threats for the agency is the fact that all-inclusive vacations are now perceived as a luxury due to the strains the financial crisis has put on the economy and population. Thus their customer base has dwindled. There are a number of opportunities the agency can use to counter both the industry and macro-environmental threats, such as trying to find new partners in the three new booming destinations, considering new customer segments (retired people, businesses, etc.), investigating the new options for marketing and promotion, and reconfiguring the offering of the agency to match the innovations in air travel.
With all this information, the SWOT analysis and the Confrontation Matrix can be completed. The SWOT analysis includes all the relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the agency.
The Confrontation Matrix uses the environmental factors from the SWOT analysis to help build up relevant strategic options for the agency. These alternative strategies are built by making the following combinations of factors: Strengths – Opportunities (attacking strategies), Strengths – Threats (building strengths for attacking strategy), Weaknesses – Opportunities (defensive strategy), and Weaknesses – Threats (building strengths for defensive strategy).
Two examples of strategies that can be built with the help of the confrontation matrix:
ST strategy: Improve the CRM by adding loyalty programs in order to ameliorate the low brand loyalty of customers. Use marketing to make the new program known to the customers. S3+S4+T1
WO strategy: Combat the seasonality of the offering (most sales during the legal holidays) and stabilize the customer base by focusing on a secondary customer segment in the off-season (retired people and businesses) W1+W2+O3
Now that we have the two alternative strategies, we can use the canvas and ArchiMate to see how they would impact the agency. The concepts in blue represent the already existing ones in the agency’s business model, and the ones highlighted in green represent the newly added ones.
The first strategy will add to the three new factors to the business model of Travel Co., namely the Loyalty programs which are meant to improve their Customer Relationships, and the specialization of Marketing into General Marketing and Focused marketing for their Key activities. This separation is made in order to introduce the Focused marketing which is meant to improve the awareness of their customers about the new program. This is supposed to have an indirect effect on the revenue streams of the agency by raising and stabilizing their monthly incomes during their main sales seasons.
This is a small example, based on this strategy, of how the changes in the business model of the agency would influence their architecture. The CRM business function will have a new business collaboration concept associated to it and the Marketing function will be now specialized into two new business functions, Focused marketing and General marketing.
The second strategy will introduce four new concepts into the business model of Travel Co. in the Customer segments and Value propositions building blocks. By following this strategy, the agency will try to focus on servicing the needs of Retired people and of Businesses with two new tailored offerings: Off-season offering and Business specialized offering, in addition to their existing customer segment and offering.
This is a small example, based on this strategy, of how the changes in the business model of the agency would influence their architecture. The main change that can be seen is with the business actors and the value of the agency. There will be two new concepts introduced to both of those to represent the two new customer segments and their associated value proposition.
We hope you found this series of blog posts helpful, and feel free to comment below.