In part three of our series “From an idea to a saw”, we give you a look at marketing and sales at STIHL.
A saw’s road to the market starts long before it goes into production. Our product managers have an open ear for users’ needs around the world. The first thing we do is define the product: What should we develop, and for whom? With what features? For which markets? We talk to the people at the source and define the general conditions. How much should the saw cost? How many can we sell? The answers to these questions form the basis for the development of a new product. The MS 150 was intended to be the lightest petrol chain saw on the market.
While all this is going on, the project manager from Development evaluates the feasibility and defines production concepts. Technical Service studies market feedback on previous models, evaluates the practical aspects of repairing the products and uses these findings to set requirements for the new model. These considerations are used to create a set of specifications for the development process that cover different versions, features, design goals, lifespan, cutting attachments, technical data, deadlines, accessories and any necessary official sales approval. Project and product managers work closely together. Things start to get busy in Marketing and Sales as the scheduled product launch approaches. Estimated market volumes start to get more specific and we create a production plan based on figures from sales subsidiaries and importers. User manuals, repair manuals, lists of replacement parts, technical data sheets and product information all have to be created. Sales Promotion uses this information to help launch the saws worldwide. Product Communications uses the information to create a campaign. In addition to the printed promotional material such as brochures, we use digital communication media such as websites, product films as well as social media. The STIHL MS 150 TC was launched at the European Tree Climbing Championship. Sales makes sure that the products are available in our markets, processes orders and arranges for delivery. As you can see, there’s a lot to do before the first customer can go to the dealer to buy the product…
Not only is the consumer’s point of view an important part of product development, you also have to be able to sell it. Our employees look into sales potential and pricing.
STIHL Japan particularly recommends the MS 150 as a saw for cutting bamboo.
Dealer acceptance is a success factor for a product launch. We test the first prototypes with maintenance and service requirements in mind, helping us keep products easy to service and reducing maintenance and repair costs.
Every product has to be profitable. This is why Controlling performed a profitability analysis and a cost estimation, checked market calculations and the set of specifications, and developed a decision paper for the MS 150. The project report contains a comparison of planned and actual costs.
Even before the first plans make it to paper, we ask potential target customers about their needs. Users value low weight and easy use very highly. The small top-handle machine is used around the world to trim trees.
To ensure that an adequate quantity of products makes it to the market on schedule, we approach key customers in advance to discuss launch strategies and planned quantities. This is the basis for a smooth start to production and includes scheduling assembly and purchasing all the necessary components on time.
A main contact person for the Japanese market coordinates global shipments from all companies and suppliers, monitors credit limits and payments, and is also in charge of coordinating, adapting and monitoring sourcing and sales planning in addition to sales prices.
To ensure that the STIHL MS 150 is a hit on the market, Product Communications develops an appealing advertising campaign and comes up with measures for a wide range of media and channels.
In addition, we write user manuals for customers and provide training courses to ensure that specialist dealers are up to speed. Interactive how-to videos, replacement parts lists and technical information lay the groundwork for perfect service throughout the chain saw’s long lifespan. By the way, the user manual for the MS 150 has to be translated into 28 languages.