Pioneer Electronics Case Study Essay

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Case Summary

In 1975 Pioneer maintained relationships with approximately 3,500 franchise retail outlets, the retail outlets benefited from a 5% Pioneer investment in local advertising, and attractive gross margins and credit terms. However, that same year, Pioneer and three competitors were forced to sign consent decrees with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission promising not to engage in alleged anti-fair competition practices – namely requiring distributors to use suggested list prices and punishing those distributors who didn’t comply either through delayed shipments or revoked franchises. A market price war followed the signing of the consent decrees, lowering franchise’s profits while increasing revenue for Pioneer. Pioneer followed …show more content…

Pioneer decision to reposition itself from a premium-priced brand into a “mid-priced, mainstream” brand affected the profit margins of its distributors negatively. At the same time, the company’s profit margin increased dramatically. Based on 1976 data from Exhibit 13, an average retailer profit margin was about 3.4%. Pioneer had a comparable profit margin of 3.9% in 1975, based on Exhibit 14 data. This margin increased by almost 3 times in 1976 to 9.4%. This clearly shows how Pioneer benefited from its market repositioning strategy while its distributors profits declined.
Although surveys showed customers were very satisfied with Pioneer products, the sales force was unhappy and felt the lower margins were unacceptable. This drove a few dealers to speak disparagingly about Pioneer products and use bait and switch tactics to create profits for themselves. Mitchell knew the dealers’ support was critical to the current distribution chain, but he couldn’t go back to the old incentives. To continue to be profitable and adapt to the new electronics market, Pioneer reconsider its current distribution network.
Alternative Courses of Action

• Alternative #1 - Shift distribution to department stores:
Shift retail distribution from specialty stores to department stores and catalog showrooms. 75% of U.S. Pioneer’s sales were from hi-fi specialty

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