Evaluation of Company Trademarks in the Area of Information Technologies

The Markent Company conducted a research project at the beginning of this year aimed at analysis of the trademarks used by the...


The Markent Company conducted a research project at the beginning of this year
aimed at analysis of the trademarks used by the manufacturers and suppliers of
solutions in the area of the end-user market for Information Technologies. The
information aired below represents the opinions and evaluations by directors of
the IT departments and/or divisions (CIOs) of various large industrial
companies resident in the Czech Republic. The information for this research
project has been systematically gathered since 1996.
Segments of the Sample under Investigation
Talking about a description of the subjects under investigation, by definition
the sample comprises just those companies employing more than 100 employees.
However, seen from the IT point of view the number of employees is not quite
optimal indicator of the company size. Therefore, another indicator has been
used namely the size of the computer network measured by the number of
computers connected.
Information Sources
By far the largest segment of the respondents we have queried acquire their
knowledge about individual trademarks and individual products/services from the
periodicals dedicated to computing and related subjects. The dominating
position of the computer periodicals as the source of information has been
repeatedly confirmed also during the previous years. The next source in terms
of richness and frequency of use is the Internet followed by fairs and
exhibitions, technical literature and other dedicated publications. The least
used source of information is dailies (21%). In general, the targeted group
does not rely on a single source of information but usually combines several
independent sources.
Comparing the current situation with that of the previous years, one cannot but
to mention the following two trends:
The importance of the Internet has been growing; in 1998 the Internet overtook
in terms of frequency of use technical books, other dedicated publications and
even the fairs. This position of the Internet has been reaffirmed and further
strengthened during 1999 and thus the Internet is currently the second most
frequently used source of information trailing just behind the computer
periodicals.
The importance of fairs and exhibitions has been diminishing steadily. The
change of the position of these two sources can be attributed to the following
two circumstances. The fairs and exhibitions have ceased to be used as the
place for introducing the new products the manufacturers simply cannot afford
to wait for the fixed terms of exhibitions or fairs, they have to present their
innovations to the interested public as soon as they are available and ready
for being launched. The second reason for the diminishing importance of fairs
and exhibitions is the circumstance that there is the tendency of lesser
importance of hardware and hardware platforms. The dematerialized values
offered by the IT companies have been gaining in prominence and these are
commodities that can be hardly presented at exhibition or fair, indeed.
Perception of the Selected Trademarks
The analysis of trademarks that has been going on since 1996 is typically
taking place at the two separate levels. The basic information is represented
by the level of perception this or other trademark enjoys, i.e. by the
information about whether a respondent ever heard anything about the trademark
in question. The slightly more specific information is the information about
the image of this or other trademark, i.e. the respondents are asked to
evaluate the individual trademarks on the basis of some specific criteria (e.g.
price, quality, etc.). The most interesting way of interpreting the information
gathered is to determine what we call "the trademark perception".
This article deals specifically with the selected information relative to the
three different branches, namely the software, network technologies and server
manufacturers.
Software Manufacturers
The first graph presents the information about the perception of the individual
trademarks of the companies supplying software. Because the substantial and
relevant component of the information in this context is the manner, how an
end-user perceives the trademark of a given manufacturer within the framework
of the main groups of software solutions, the graph includes both the
manufacturers of the office software and the manufacturers of ERP systems and
others. Seen from the point of view how the trademarks are being perceived on
the end-users market the following two groups can be identified:
The first group comprises the trademarks that are almost exclusively being
connected with just a single product category. The companies falling into this
category are mainly the suppliers of ERP solutions (Intentia, JBA, SAP) and the
database manufacturers (Sybase, Informix, Oracle). These trademarks are being
linked in the minds of the queried subjects with just one product category much
more often (statistically speaking) than with several categories of products.
In addition, the manner in which the respondents associate these trademarks
with other product categories is quite often hopelessly off the mark. This
bears witness to a rather diffuse and fuzzy way these companies are
communicating with their end-user markets.
The important conclusion than can be drawn from these observations is the level
of accuracy with which the companies in question are being perceived on the
end-user market. This accuracy, or an absence of any, reflects the consistency
and efficacy of the marketing and communication activities of the individual
companies concerned.
The second group comprises the trademarks that have been associated by the
respondents with two or more categories of products simultaneously. Thus, one
could conclude that these trademarks are imbued with a rather multicolored
image. The typical example of such trademark is Microsoft that is perceived by
the end-user market as the supplier of office software on one hand and on the
other hand as the producer of operating systems. Other prominent
representatives of this kind of trademarks are Novell and Lotus.
The presented graph depicts yet another kind of information. The data at the
end of each column indicate to what extent the individual trademarks were
simultaneously categorized into larger number of categories. The more this
indicator differs from 100% the more often was the trademark in question
classed simultaneously into several categories.
Network Technologies and Solutions
The other graph presents the analogical information, however this time from the
realm of network technologies and solutions. In general, one should state that
the trademarks associated with network technologies are on the end-user market
perceived with a high level of accuracy. It is quite obvious from the graph
that the level of "errors" in placing the individual trademarks into wrong
categories has been quite low indeed. The percentage point sums are mostly very
close to 100% and thus one can conclude that these trademarks are to great
extent being associated with just one product category.
Servers
The last graph presents the results for the trademarks of server manufacturers.
The graph again indicates that some trademarks are being perceived on the
end-user market with relatively high accuracy (cf. Sun, in particular) but
other trademarks seem to manifest a kind of a "dual perception" (e.g.
Hewlett-Packard or IBM). Very specific position is being assumed in this group
by Compaq and Dell companies. They are most often associated with the servers,
but there is a significant ratio of the respondents who placed these trademarks
also into the category of notebook manufacturers.
Price as a Criterion
In conclusion there is the Table presented that indicates the order of
individual trademarks from the point of view of prices they ask for their
products and services. The Table reflects the way the pricing policy of the
individual trademarks is being perceived by the queried Directors of IT of the
individual companies. The order of the trademarks in fact reflects the
subjective evaluation of the prices being associated with the individual
trademarks and this subjective evaluation does not necessarily correspond with
the real prices of products and services offered.
0 1468 / darn
The Methods Used
The research has been conducted mainly by querying the representatives of
individual companies having the executive rights within the framework of a
decision-making process relative to their companies policies with respect to
the Information Technologies. Therefore, in most cases, the query addressed
those executives, who have the right to recommend and/or decide on the
manufacturers or suppliers to be selected by a company in question.
Alternatively, they would be those who evaluate individual products and
services within the framework of the selection process either themselves, or
who are leading the teams of personnel responsible for these and similar tasks.
Thus, the typical respondents of these investigations were the Directors of IT
Departments of the individual companies queried.
The investigation focused itself onto the large industrial companies employing
more than one hundred people. Altogether, there were 352 companies resident in
the Czech Republic requested to respond. Some executives of the companies
contacted refused to take part in the project and thus, the below information
is based on the answers and opinions of 312 respondents. The size and structure
of the sample of companies under investigation was mutually comparable during
the individual years when the query was conducted. In addition to the
evaluation of individual trademarks of the manufacturers and suppliers of
Information Technology solutions, the personal experience with specific
products and/or services the respondents accumulated in the field of IT was
also taken into account. The indivisible part of the project and the analysis
carried out was the determination of basic descriptive indicators of companies
queried (annual sales, number of computers in use, legal status of the company,
etc.).









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