Teaching and discussion ideas
While the simulation game is quick to learn and relatively simple for students to understand, it does provide an insight to numerous marketing concepts and topics – making it an excellent learning activity.
The following is a suggestion of possible breakout discussion topics and questions that you could use to get further value from the game and reinforce marketing learning/topics.
Overall marketing concepts
Potentially one of the simplest ways to approach the discussion – after playing the game, which may take hours or potentially several classes – is to simply ask each team to discuss the key marketing concepts that they believe the game has highlighted to them. Each group would then report back about the key findings and how the game has helped them understand and reinforce various marketing concepts.
This is a great approach to self-learning and getting the students to reflect on the various tasks and activities have undertaken during the game.
Market segmentation and positioning
The game is constructed around a perceptual map, which represents four key market segments. Any of these market segments can be selected as target markets. The numbers within the market demand perceptual map represent sales volume/revenue for different aspects of positioning.
Hopefully this makes it clear to the students, that different consumers have different market needs – that consumers are generally similar within the segments (although not exactly identical) – that different positioning will generate different levels of sales and profits.
Therefore, it is possible to construct questions around what is market segmentation, what is positioning, why they are important, and so on.
Marketing and competitive strategy
Success in this particular game is often centered around the firm’s ability to construct a long-term plan and to make decisions relative to the competition. Therefore a good understanding of the competitors and their strategy is a key attribute of success. Therefore, you could have discussions around the importance of monitoring competitors, how easy it is it is to predict the behavior, and how this may be helpful in generating future profits for the firm.
Marketing metrics and financial metrics
The simulation game output is provided in a numerical and graphical form. The graphical form represents a “mini marketing dashboard”, while the numerical output represents various marketing and financial metrics. In this regard you could discuss the importance of marketing and financial metrics in helping the team make its future decisions. Likewise, you discuss the value of presenting data in a visual versus numerical/table form.
Marketing return on investment (ROMI)
One of the key challenges is to position/invest in new products while generating a positive return over time. Some of the positioning cells are quite expensive for the firm to develop and then may not provide a positive payback in the course of the game if they challenged by competitors.
Therefore, if appropriate, you could discuss the importance of considering payback on your marketing investment – what is an appropriate time frame? What calculations should the firm consider – such as possibly net present value?
Even if your class is not in a position to undertake some form of financial analysis, it should be fairly apparent that the concept of “payback” is critically important. Therefore you get them to discuss what is meant by payback and how that would factor into some of their investment decisions.
Customer lifetime value
In conjunction with the return on marketing investment above, is the discussion of customer lifetime value. This means that customers have value over time. In the simulation game, teams received a 20% bonus on their sales from the previous round – which is designed to represent a loyalty and price premium advantage.
Obviously, not all products will be profitable – so the discussion can turn to the importance of loyalty and generating a long-term sales/profits following a marketing investment.
Depending upon the game in the mix of competitors in their approach, I often find that the marketing topics and concepts are pushed into new and unexpected directions – which you may also find. Therefore, please feel free to email me with your particular success and approaches and innovative ways of teaching marketing that you have been able to discover by the use of this marketing simulation game.