Context:Contemporary businesses that do not adequately or properly address the factors in their environment succumb to pressures that they cannot account for. Post examples of firms that have experienced severe disruptive events, causing significant loss of revenue, or firms that have had to close entirely due to factors in their environment are common.
1. Introduction and background
1.1 Introduction: It is important for the business to analyse their micro and macro environment in order to do sustainable business and ensure profits. Contemporary businesses are found to be succumbing to environmental pressures due to their inability to addressing environmental problems. This study focuses on a business failure that has resulted in the purchasing of Ernest Hillier Chocolates by a UK investment company. This failure has been attributed due to the inability of the company to overcome environmental pressures. The study focuses on the particular factors that help in decisions making processes of the firms to sustain in this competitive environment. The macro environmental factors have been analysed through PESTLE and Porters five forces. 4Ps of marketing has been used there that helps in balancing the objectives of the firm with the trends and demands in the market.
1.2 Background: Ernest Hillier Chocolates is the first manufacturer in Australia as it has done business for 101 years. Having headquarters in Melbourne Australia, its range of products includes a variety of 200 chocolates (gourmetbrands.com.au, 2018). The organisation plays an immense role in the Australian food market and so despite its losses it has been able to operate. It has been founded in 1914 and with the death of Darrell Lea, it has collapsed. The company has been facing stiff competition from other chocolate manufacturing companies that has resulted in its collapse. It has been then purchased by a UK investment Company Re Capital. It operates under Newman’s and Hillier's brands having a turnover between $15 million and $25 million per annum (smh.com.au, 2015). Its chocolates are sold around Australia and are having contracts with Woolworths and Coles. Due to its losses, this 101-year-old company has been retained only 60 employees. It shows the inability of the company to sustain in the Australian market.
2. Internal and external environmental factors
2.1 SWOT analysis
Table 1: SWOT analysis
(Source: created by the learner)
2.2 Analysis of External Factors
Table 2: PESTLE Analysis
(Source: created by the Learner)
2.2 Porter's five forces
Figure 1: Porter's five forces
(Source: created by the learner)
Competitive rivalry:Competitive rivalry is high in the Australian chocolate industry due to the increase in the number of competitors in the chocolate industry. Toro-Jarrín, Ponce-Jaramillo &Güemes-Castorena (2016) stated that this force helps in determining the profitability and competitiveness of an industry. A high number of competitors like Nestle and Mondelezhas already dominated in the Australian chocolate industry. Due to their brand image and reputation, these companies have already captured the Australian Chocolate industry. Though Ernest Hillier Chocolates is the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Australia, it has not been able to significantly invest in Research and Development Activities as done by its competitors. The largest share in Australian chocolate industry is Mondelez Australia having 34.5% share in the market; Nestle is having 18.2% while Mars Australia is having 13.9% (smartcompany.com.au, 2015). This shows that the decisions making processes of the companies need to be concerned with their research and developmental activities for bringing in new products. The health concerns of the people have ensured that they choose organic and healthy products, which have resulted in making new and tasty chocolates. This shows that competitive rivalry is high.
Buyer power: Björk (2017) commented that buyers generally have the power to seek for higher quality in the products or lower prices from the producers when their bargaining power is high. In this case, consumers are not price sensitive, which implies that they are willing to buy high price chocolates provided that the chocolate manufacturers provide tasty and hygienic products. The consumers in Australia have high purchasing behaviour, which shows that companies can record good profits. Switching costs to other suppliers are low as the market is filled with a high number of chocolate manufacturers like Nestle, Mondelez, and Mars. The consumers can get tasty and delicious chocolates at affordable rates so their switching costs are low. The companies are required to have an understanding of the emerging trends and demands for gaining a large number of audiences. Therefore, the bargaining power of buyers is high.
Supplier power: It has been found that strong bargaining power helps suppliers to sell low quality or high priced materials to their buyers. As the Australian chocolate industry is booming, the suppliers are large which give opportunities to the companies to switch over. Due to this reason, the companies have the opportunity to buy cocoa from suppliers. The large companies also import it from other countries, which show that the supplier power is low. In this case, Ernest Hillier Chocolates has not too many suppliers that have resulted in its inability to understand the emerging trends Tada and Origin are some of the suppliers that are found in Australia. This increasing number of suppliers helps companies like Ernest Hillier Chocolates to switch over the suppliers in lower costs. Costs of switching the raw materials are less, which shows supplier power is less.
Threat of substitution: It has been found that Coles and Woolworths have the ability to copy the products and selling them at cheaper rates. This has resulted in several issues among the established brands as they face the challenges of counterfeit products. Tarofderet al. (2016) stated that customers have the ability to compare various products and purchase those that can fetch them good quality products at affordable prices. The threat of the substitution of Ernest Hillier Chocolates is high which has led its collapse. With the emergence of high-quality brands, the company has been facing stiff competition, as they have been able to provide tasty chocolates at low prices. The prices of cocoa have increased in the market, which has made it difficult for the company to produce good quality and new chocolates at affordable prices. As the consumers get the substitute products from other established brands, it poses a threat for the company to produce tasty and new chocolates to consumers. Thus, the threat of substitution is high.
The threat of new entrants: The threat of new entry is considerably low as Australian chocolate market has already been flourished with well-established brands. In this case, Ernest Hillier Chocolates is facing problems in the market, which can dissuade the companies to penetrate into the market. The existing companies are required to make effective strategies for ensuring sustainability in the Australian confectionary industry. A huge amount of capital is required for entering in the market, which can dissuade new entrants to seek for market position. The switching costs of the consumers are also low which shows that new entrants will have a problem in establishing their brands. Thus, the threat of new entrants is low.
3. Impact of External factors
The stability of the Political Environment of the country results in the development of the foreign business companies like Nestle, Kraft and Mars Food in Australia. These companies challenges the sales figures of Ernest Hillier as they are highly advanced with their strategies and have huge number of employees in their organisations. As per the opinion of Sadgrove (2016), this increases marketing and sales of the products of the organisation and reduces the sales of the products of Ernest Hillier. Sales of products of confectionaries as per the Retail World Grocery Guide are seen to be almost engulfed by the foreign company Kraft in the market of Australia. As a result it can be seen that the management of Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd is not able to handle the difficulties that are being faced by the organisations.
Several issues that resulted in the loss of Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd in the market of Australia were dependant on the Macro-Environmental Factors of the country. The political environment of Australia is highly stable and allows the entry of foreign companies and other competitor organisations. These organisations produce a huge threat for the Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd and reduce the sales of their products. Moreover, Young et al. (2015) stated that, the educational background of the people is good and thus economy of the country is also high. This makes the people of the country be able to buy costly products of better quality and people choose foreign confectionaries over the local confectionaries.
Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd also faced issues, as the high cost of the technologies was difficult for the company to afford. Further, continuous loss faced by the company also resulted in the decrease of the products manufacturing and marketing resulting in the decrease of sales figures of the company. The social factors played an important role as the people of the country chose the products that were better promoted in the markets. This resulted in the sales of the confectionaries of Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd to fall. It was also seen that the customers of Australia looked forward to the tastes and variety of the products of the companies and Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd failed here, too. This was because of the fact, that the economy of the company was low and they were not able to buy the required technologies that could enable them to manufacture advanced products as per the demands of the customers.
The legal structures of Australia allowed the entry of huge number of Foreign business organisations in the country thus resulting in the increase of competitor organisations. Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd also faced the challenges due to this factor as these companies developed the market as per the demands of the customers with efficient performance and relevant strategies. As per the opinion of Hughes, Cox &Akhir(2016), economy of the foreign companies also played a major factor. This is because of the fact that the economy of UK is more than that of Australia and thus it was easier for them to manage their funds. Companies like Kraft and Nestle could easily develop their markets in Australia by catering the needs of the customers and development products as per their demands.
Costs of the raw materials that are required for the manufacture of chocolates also increased with time and Ernest Hillier faced challenges to buy those products from the markets of Australia. According to the view of Schaltegger& Wagner (2017), this was because of the fact that the companies selling the raw materials increased the price of the products as their sales increased. The economy of Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd was low and they were not able to compete with the high rise in the price of the products. The company could not provide environmental protection and precautionary measures related to recyclable packaging as their economy was low. This resulted in the reduction of their customer count and the sales of the products of Ernest hillier Pty Ltd decreased.
Environmental factors related to the location of Australia also provided an advantage to the foreign investors and impacted Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd in a negative way. This is because of the fact that the management of the Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd could not manage the huge number of competitors in the markets of Australia. Grublješi?&Jakli?(2015) stated that, the competitors also had sufficient economy to analyse the market properly and develop their products in such a way so that the customers were satisfied. This increased the sales of the products of those companies and the sales figures of the Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd products started falling.
3.1 Impact of Competitive Organisations : Ernest Hillier also faced lots of issues after the competitive organisations established their markets on the Australian soil. This is because of the fact that the competition among the companies of the confectionary industry increased after the entry of new companies. Customers of Australia were satisfied with the entry of foreign companies as they had various options among which they could shuffle and choose the best products as per their choice. Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd faced the issues when the companies from other countries entered and tried to develop their products similar to the products of Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd and satisfied the demands of the customers. The economy of the foreign companies was high and thus they were able to sell the products at reduced costs to attain the markets and customers and reduced the sales of the native company.
The customers of the country were oriented towards buying the best products at the most affordable prices and thus chose the products that were available at the most affordable price. In the view of Hoogendoorn(2016), the new entrants could give proper amount of discounts as companies were new and they has to establish their markets and thus their sales increased. Once the customers of the country liked the products of the new companies, they started to buy the products of those companies and rejected Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd confectionery and chocolates. This affected the sales of the products of the company completely in a negative manner.
The company also faced issues as the suppliers of the raw materials increased the price of the products and the company was not able to manage the rising costs of the raw materials. On the other hand it is seen that the company owned a private supply chain that transported the products from the manufacturing house to the stores. As per the opinion of Chungyalpa& Bora (2015), the price that had to be paid as transportation charges also increased and the company faced lots of difficulties in managing the huge rise of economy in various sectors of the business.
Issues regarding the above-mentioned factors were the reason for the substitution of the company by the new entrants in the markets of Australia. The company could not develop its strategies of marketing and development as per the development of the country and thus faced such negative affects due to the macro environmental factors which resulted in the removal of the company from the markets of the country and the buying of the company by a UK company.
4. Selection and Application of Proper Frameworks (4Ps of Marketing)
Ernest Hillier can solve the issues that are faced by the organisation by application of proper frameworks. The company can apply the Strategy that is provided by the 4Ps of Marketing Framework in order to develop their market in the markets of the selected region. As per the view of Khaksaret al. (2016), the 4 Ps of Marketing mix is a combination of strategies that can lead to the proper promotion of the products of the company and also enable them to gain competitive advantage over other companies present in the market. The factors that are present in the 4Ps of marketing are:
Figure 2: 4Ps of Marketing
(Source: created by the learner)
The company needs to ensure that the people of the market are aware of the products that are sold by it. This can increase the knowledge of the customers and they are able to develop their tastes as per the products that are sold and also inform the company if they want some special flavour or products to be sold by the company. The products of the company also need to be produced from safe items so that the children of the area can consume them. According to Dyllick& Muff (2016), as chocolates and confectionaries are favourites among the children, the company needed to ensure that the packing of the products are done properly and it is checked more than once at all times. Further, factors related to the hygiene of the products also need to be ensured by the management so that the customers are able to develop a faith towards the company. This increases the sales of the products and is able to keep the customers loyal to the organisation.
Price: The price of the products that are sold by Ernest Hillier Pty Ltd need to be maintained as per the economy of the region and the markets. According to Rastogi&Trivedi(2016), the products needs to be sold at primarily, reduced prices so that the people of the market are able to comfortable choose the products and buy them. On the other hand, the quantity and quality of the products also needs to be maintained as per the price of the products. This ensures that the products that are sold by the company are easily able to satisfy the customers and the customers buy them at regular intervals. Small products like toffees needs to be at very less prices so that increased quantity of the products are bought by the customers and the company is able to make more profits.
Promotion: The company needs to promote its products properly so that they are able to attract the customers in the markets where they are operating. The target customers of certain products need to be searched by the management experts of the company. Promotion needs to be done separately for all the products that are available in the market. As per the view of Rohet al. (2015), representatives from the age group of the target customers need to be selected and advertisements need s to be prepared by the management of the organisation so that the people are easily able to get attracted towards the products. Moreover, Grublješi?&Jakli?(2015) commented that, the company can also select selected people who are famous in the country like sportsperson, or actors or political leaders for the promotion of their products. This increases the brand image of the company among the customers and they buy the products seeing the people who are promoting the products.
Place: This is the most important factor that the management needs to keep in mind while they are forming the strategies for the development of the company. This is because of the fact that these strategies decide the ability of the company to perform in the market of the region. As per the view of McKee (2015), the place of the markets decides the price of the products as per the economy. Moreover, the cultural background of the place also matters and the products are manufactured accordingly. The preferences of the people of the place are given special attention by the people of the organisation and strategies are developed as per the preferences.
5. Industry factors and models in the decision-making process
5.1 Factors of decision-making processes
Figure 3: Factors of decision-making processes
(Source: created by the learner)
Use of resources and technology
It is required for the companies to use their resources and technology judiciously for increasing its profits and revenue. In the words of Navimipour&Soltani (2016), the organisations should have effective managing and controlling features in order to use resources and technology for maximising customer satisfaction. In this case, Ernest Hillier Chocolates should give flexible working hours to t\its employees so that they do not feel overburdened. In addition, the HR department should ensure that employees are retained in Ernest Hillier Chocolates so that they can take adequate decisions in using technology for making new and tasty chocolates. It has not bale to make good market research for assessing the trends and emerging needs of consumers. Due to lack of motivation, increased attrition rate has been found resulting in only 60 employees until date.
Effects of brands
Datta, Ailawadi& van Heerde (2017) stated that brand equity and brand image plays an important role in influencing the customers to purchase and stick to that particular brands. However, it results in monotony as the consumers are deprived of the variety of brands due to their loyalty with one brand. In this case, Ernest Hillier chocolates have been able to establish brand perception but lost to the global chocolate companies in Australia. It has not been able to create brand perception in the market, which has decreased its sales as compared to its global competitors. Its failure in providing good quality chocolates at premium prices has been defeated due to counterfeit products. For this, Ernest Hillier chocolates should understand the market trends and their influence on consumers. As for example, introducing dark chocolate with dry fruits can help Ernest Hillier Chocolates to gain its presence in the market. This will give it a competitive edge over its rivals, as it will be able to offer something new on its platter.
It refers to the benefits that an individual or business can miss out while choosing one thing over other (Mitrega&Pfajfar, 2015). Ernest Hillier chocolates to analyse its financial performances for operational efficiencies can use this. It is the most effective way of understanding missed opportunities so that better decisions can be made for ensuring sustainability. Ernest Hillier Chocolates can assess its rate of return by considering the costs of each of the given options. The business has been unsuccessful for making new and healthy products and focussing on lowering prices for increasing its market share. Its inability to make investments in purchasing new machines and financial constraints has made this business unsuccessful.
Risks and uncertainties
In this competitive environment, analysing of risks and uncertainties are important factors in making effective decisions. Chenget al. (2016) stated that it implies that the traditional or modern entities are required to assess the market risks that they are going to face in this competitive world. Being the traditional company, Ernest Hillier chocolates is required to make effective strategies for overcoming the risks and uncertainties in the Australian market. Its inability to make effective decisions under certain conditions shows that the management lacks information for getting desired results. Judicious use of available alternatives is required by Ernest Hillier chocolates to overcome its ambiguities and risks of doing business in this competitive environment. The company has failed to increase its number of suppliers and investments in technology for outweighing its competitors.
5.2 Decision-making models
Figure 4: Rational model
(Source: created by the learner)
As per this model, business firms are required to make rational decisions so that they can overcome uncertainties and risks in the market. Stahl (2018) stated that managers are required to make effective decisions for meeting the best economic interests of their organisation. Ernest Hillier chocolates are required to make rational decisions like effective marketing strategies and giving high-quality products for meeting the needs and demands of consumers. The managers in this company are required to assess the possible alternatives, ramifications, and results for getting desired outcomes. The rational decisions of the company help in enhancing the profitability of the company and gaining competitive advantage. Stressing on its branded products and dissuading the customers from buying counterfeit ones can help Ernest Hillier chocolates to gain a considerable market share in Australia. In addition, proper use of resources and technology in making crispy and crunchy chocolates can make it aloof from its rivals. However, this model has been criticised for the inability of the managers to make rational decisions in complicated situations for comparing the actual decision making patterns.
As per this model, it is not necessary for the managers to remain rational all the time as they can make decisions just based on their instincts or judgements (Dessein, Galeotti& Santos, 2016). However, the bounded rational decision-making act as an effective framework for understanding the actual processes in managerial decisions. In this case, Ernest Hillier chocolates should ensure that rational and non-rational decisions are also made for the betterment of the organisation. This implies that instinctive decisions can be made like making innovative and tasty chocolates without giving attention to the prices. Lowering of prices of the company can prove to be problematic as it will not be able to garner revenue as required for its operational efficiencies. The inability of the managers to retain a large amount of information limits their ability in making rational decisions. However, this model has been criticised for limiting the optimal decisions to the intelligence and capacity of an individual.
6. Potential opportunities for growth
6.1 Promoting an effective working environment: For any businesses to grow and expand, it is required to have an effective working environment whereby employees can enjoy their work and give the best of their abilities. Ernest Hillier Chocolates has failed to provide an effective working environment, which is evident from its increasing attrition rate. It lacks complaints and feedback mechanism through which the employees can convey their grievances to the management. In this era of competition, employees are considered an important part of an organisation as they lead to the company to the peak of its success (Kowalkowskiet al. 2016). Failure of the company in the expansion is due to its inability of providing a safe and secure environment. Besides these, the company is required to implement Performance Appraisal system so that promotion of the employees is based on performances rather than seniority. This system is an effective mechanism for attracting skilled and talented employees as they think that the organisation is concerned for its employees.
6.2 The collaboration of new ideas : Collaborative ideas result in increased growth and expansion of an organisation as the employees act as a team to yield the desired outcomes. Spitsberget al. (2015) are of the view that collaboration and cooperation can evolve when there is adequate communication process among the employees and employers. Ernest Hillier Chocolates is required to retain its employees and recruit more employees in order to provide high-quality products to its customers. Its collapse shows that the company is unable to devise strategies for overcoming significant market challenges. Therefore, fewer numbers of employees in the company are required to act as a team and share various responsibilities for improving its image in the market. The leaders are required to adopt transformational and situational leadership style for providing proper guidance and direction to the team. This will ensure employee engagement and employee commitment whereby they can provide innovative solutions to existing challenges. The collaboration of new ideas helps in bringing new and high-quality products for catering to the needs of emerging markets.
6.3 Innovative solutions to cultural conflicts: AsErnest Hillier Chocolates are a 101-year-old company so it is found to be recruiting various employees having different social backgrounds. These employees include physically disabled people and other cultural people who offer effective services to the company. The Australian government encourages the companies to recruit a wide number of culturally diverse groups for ensuring the betterment of its citizens. In such a juncture, the company is required to respect its diverse workforce for mitigating workplace conflicts. During the marketing and promotions of its products, the management should ensure not to give any message that hurts the sentiments of people. It should promote employment opportunities for all the diverse groups without compromising the cultural values of anybody. The packaging and design of its products should not contain any misappropriate or misleading contents that may harm the religious sentiments create cultural problems among the customers. Cultural issues can hinder the growth of the company as the consumers can have negative perceptions resulting in decreasing revenue.
6.4 Effective communication medium: Handkeet al. (2018) are of the view that effective communication strategies are required for having good, transparent and stabilised working culture. It implies that the lower level of employees should have a proper understanding and knowledge of their roles and responsibilities for doing their work effectively. The exchange of information among various departments helps in better implementation of strategies for overcoming the ongoing crisis. Communication can take place through verbally or nonverbally. However, regular meetings and discussions are required to be organised for assessing the position of the company in meeting the emerging trends in the market. Use of presentation can help the employees to get an understanding of operational efficiencies of the company. In addition, market research and reports can enable them to improve their performances in the organisational context. This helps in building effective working relationships for minimising workplace conflicts. Having a centralised database in its headquarters can help in effective communication among its other stores for assessing the market for growth in the market.
It can be concluded that Ernest Hillier chocolates are facing many challenges in this business environment due to external and internal environmental pressures and competition from its rivals. In such a juncture, effective strategies are required for improving its internal operations and overcoming its external pressures. It has been found that the external environmental factors like stiff competition and availability of substitutes have resulted in the collapse of the company and its purchasing by Re Capital. The 4Ps of marketing has helped in understanding the position of the firm in the market. Pestle has been used for assessing the macro environmental factors, which shows inability of company to sustain in the market.
Increase in prices of cocoa and stiff competition from established brands have resulted in increasing employee turnover, leading to only 60 employees. Its long tradition of serving the food culture in Australia has helped it to sustain its operations in this sector. It has been found that the company is also suffering from increasing attrition rate due to its inability in recruiting and retaining skilled and talented employees. Porter’s five forces have helped in understanding strategic position of Ernest Hillier chocolates in Australian market.
It is required for the company to devise effective strategies like giving high quality and non-substitutable products for gaining a maximum number of customers. In addition, it can also use social media for its promotional and advertising strategies making an impact on the customers. The growth of the company is dependent on its ability to retain its customers, improving research and development activities and bringing in innovative solutions to emerging risks.
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