Case Study for SWOT Analysis

This is a SWOT study I conducted and wrote for Briggs and Riley, a quality luggage company. Although obviously it is not a restaurant, it’s an excellent example I intend to place as a possible Index section at the back of the book. I would rather have case studies showing brands and chains that are NOT restaurants as well as restaurants to help give readers a better idea of SWOT analysis.   A SWOT analysis is a structured evaluation of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats that can help or hurt a brand.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Briggs and Riley

Strengths

Starting with the strengths, it’s obvious from testimonials and customer feedback that Briggs has an excellent reputation when it comes to customer service. I have never purchased their luggage or bags and needed to have them fixed, but if these customer testimonials are to be believed, they must be doing a superior job of fixing customer broken luggage and seem to go above and beyond their customers’ expectations.

Customer after customer says that their problem was fixed swiftly and easily. It seems like a lifetime warranty for anyone that buys the product, making an average consumer want to at least purchase one once just to give their service and warranty a spin at it. Peace of mind often sells products these days in an industry ruled by cheap manufacturers in China conducting slave labor with no warranty to speak of. They are also great at innovation. For example, I did not know that they were the first company that created the wheels to drag our luggage around, something that now seems routine throughout the world. Other innovations and points of strength in their luggage and travel bags include: ergonomic hardware, ballistic nylon outer fabric, double zipper pulls to help prevent slippage and breakage, and large upright wheels for their heavy luggage. They have an identifiable target audience. As the text clearly states, you cannot market your product to everyone. You must have a select group of customers, both as business to consumer and also business-to-business. Again, this reminded me a lot of our company, Zankou Chicken and how we have thus far not targeted businesses as much as we do average consumers. There is obviously a lot of room for growth in the businesses to business market both for Zankou and for Briggs. But Briggs does an awesome job of retaining its current customers, as per their testimonials, and gaining new customers by way of targeting travelers that love to work and play in style and with something that lasts a lifetime.

Weaknesses

One weakness seems like Briggs does not do a very good job of getting their Brand recognized. For example, when we brought it up first in class, few people recognized it or even knew what it was. Apple, on the other hand, generated something like 95% recognition rate among class members. I had not heard of Briggs before this class. The luggage company I am most familiar with is Samsonite, and more recently I purchase Tumi luggage and backpacks. The cases at Tumi, like their excellence in design and craftsmanship on their hand bags and briefcases, outshines anything Briggs is doing right now. So my recommendation would definitely be to hire new industrial designers and get their game up in that department. Specifically, for myself, I shop at the Tumi at Americana. Not only is it very convenient but I think they are doing a great job of showcasing only their bestselling stuff and they also have friendly and knowledgable staff always ready to assist you. There aren’t too many Briggs centered stores in southern California. Perhaps they can add stores and other satellite locations inside airports? That would be a great strategy for them. Availability It seems as though Briggs is a great American company with a rich history that unfortunately few people really know about. Perhaps they can do a better job of marketing communication and brand awareness. Part of this might entail offering their goods at places where the new consumers congregate more. If they were to make an awesome and reliable hand case for the Mac Books, for example, and sold it at the Apple store, that might be one way of gaining new customers that would later translate into their luggage business. If I am to get a case for my Mac Book Pro and enjoy my newfound relationship with Briggs, I am much more likely to remember the Briggs name next time I think about purchasing travel or business gear. Awareness The Briggs fan page on Facebook is extremely bland and not very interactive. It offers links to the company web site, which kind of misses the point entirely.

When we are on Facebook we often wish to simply interact with the brand. We want to talk to other people that travel or maybe wish to get a laptop and see what kind of case they will purchase. We want to play with the brand, observe it, look at the pictures and turn them around, share them with friends, and look into the different style options and accessories. Perhaps we want some information about the warranty because our Briggs bag just got damaged? That information should be available right there so people won’t have to go through hoops and their web site to find it. We want a simple click away from their home site and to begin shopping right away. The company may wish to spend some money on a good web site and social media design firm  to help them out with their Facebook page and get some serious ideas on how to make it better and more fun to use. They need to increase its “ stickiness”.

Opportunities

One level of outside opportunities I see is American Express. As a company we have dealt with American express and they are very rigid about their policies and prices. For example, they refused to allow us to reduce their charge price from 3.5% to about 2% (which is what VISA and MasterCard charge). They were unwavering on this. The reason is simple. They are giving more value to their customers. When you call VISA or Mastercard you should prepare to talk to some robots and stay on hold anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes by the time you find a human being on the other line. With American express, they may charge more, but the wait time is dramatically reduced to a few minutes and sometimes merely seconds. American Express offers travel insurance on all purchases made with their cards, and the value goes up depending on which AMEX card is used. Briggs has an excellent opportunity here to target AMEX customers because we know AMEX customers are upwardly mobile individuals that love to travel, spend, and often do so at a cost that brings greater service to them. I am not sure if Briggs ever puts small ads in the AMEX invoices we receive, but I have never seen one. Another opportunity is the newer regulations in place because of terrorism related threats. Briggs travel size bags should be advertised as allowing you to maximize space and possibly avoid bringing the huger bags altogether. Briggs can capitalize on the time saved by passengers every year by offering these bags and informing customers of the newest regulations in terms of what is allowed and not allowed on board domestic flights (liquids and sizes …etc) and making it easier for their customers to remain within all the new regulations and make their travel time less hassle.

Threats

In my mind the greatest outside threat to a luggage company is the current world situation.

Terrorism is rampant in Pakistan, Russia, the Koreas, eastern Europe, and much of the middle east. The current revolutions taking place in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and many other Arab countries is cause for alarm. Not only will this situation harm travel and tourism in Egypt and its surrounding countries (Israel, Lebanon…etc) but it may have a global impact on Briggs and Riley and other travel related companies such as the airline and airport industries. So the threat is that world-wide protests, revolutions, and general upheaval may impact the entire global tourism industry. I know this firsthand because I planned a trip to Lebanon this year, the summer of 2014, and I never went due to the constant threats and bad news arising from that part of the world. 3 different car bombs and attacks have already occurred in Lebanon, and the ISIS threat in Iraq has gotten much worse as well as the Israeli-Palestianian situation recently exploding in July. It is very difficult to turn this outside influence, which is beyond our control, into an opportunity.

Of course Briggs is not a peacemaker, nor does it have any capability to control world events that may impact negatively the travel industry. However Briggs can certainly be creative and do something such as use their awesome customer service line to aid possible stranded customers with any available information …etc. This will have a lasting, positive effect in the minds of their customers. Another idea I have is the possible use and creation of extra durable, steel coated luggage. This may seem awkward, however it may create in the mind of the consumer safety and durability in times of great stress and anxiety and may be a huge blockbuster .

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