What are Core Competencies?


strategy, capabilities, core competencies, mission

Teaching Notes

This activity is designed for students of marketing strategy, or advanced marketing students. It explores the concept of core competencies and their role in the development of a marketing strategy. It is suggested that this would be done as a small group discussion, with report back to the overall class at the end. You should typically allow around 10 to 15 minutes for this discussion exercise.

Review the activity below or download the PDF student worksheet

Student Worksheet: What are Core Competencies

Student Discussion Activity

Core competencies are skill sets (expertise, processes, and abilities) of an organization that allow them to add significant value to customers and to have a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Core competencies would be typically listed as strengths in the SWOT analysis and should be used as the fundamental driver of the development of the marketing strategy. In this exercise, you are to review the following list of potential core competencies for a firm.

  • Innovation expertise
  • Speed and flexibility in the marketplace
  • Superior product development skills
  • Greater marketplace and customer understanding
  • Strong analysis and database skills
  • Industry/market knowledge and expertise
  • Experts in marketing communications
  • Fast or friendly customer service
  • Streamlined and efficient processes
  • Logistics expertise
  • Strategic/entrepreneurial insight
  • Skills in the early identification of trends/opportunities

Student Discussion Questions

  1. How could these core competencies be used by firms to provide value to the end consumer in the marketplace?
  2. To what extent of these core competencies capable of being duplicated by other firms – therefore, is the competitive advantage provided by them “sustainable”?
  3. What examples of firms/brands can you think of that have some of these core competencies?
  4. Having a rough guess, how many different core competencies do you think that most firms would have?
  5. Discuss why it is important to base the firm’s marketing strategy on one or more of the core competencies?

Related Activities

Apple and Core Competencies

Understanding Mission Statements