Tag Archives: retail

Avoca – And Now the End is Near and so I face the final Question


We will consider Avoca in the context of building an effective marketing plan using the six elements of the PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning System.  Each stage of SOSTAC® is interlinked and according to Chaffey and Smith[2] (E-Marketing Excellence 2013 Pg. 3) each stage is not discrete but there may be some overlap during each stage of planning and previous stages may be revisited and refined.  The acronym SOSTAC® stands for Situation Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control.

Situation – where are we now?

Avoca redesigned its website less than a year ago and has further enhanced its e-commerce capability focusing on its large online sales from an international customer base, indeed it has been to the forefront of its competitors in embracing the e-commerce possibilities. The website itself links to a Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. The LinkedIn page is used to advise of changes in-store or online (as an example it announced 9 months ago that it had just revamped its website and online store with a new responsive design framework to optimise its performance across desktop and mobile devices, recognising that more of their customers are interacting with Avoca on their smartphones and tablets). There was no easy access to subscribe to an online Newsletter which may be an opportunity missed by Avoca, but a solution to which is provided for in our two suggested business innovations.


Objectives – where do we want to get to?

As a brand, Avoca is uniquely positioned in the Irish market to target its key customer, females in the 25-70 age range, with its outlets in key areas, however, the Company should consider other sites that open up the Avoca experience to other parts of Ireland and to consider extending the customer experience for its keycustomer to grow its sales. Avoca will also need to consider other customer segments to grow its business in Ireland.  Internationally, Avoca will need to continue to scan its international environment to assess its competitors and respond quickly to changes that will surely be demanded by the growing internet marketing arena.

Strategy – how are we going to get there – overview?

Avoca is a sector leader in Ireland and is one of many internationally.  The focus will be on growing the company in Ireland, through new sites whilst staying ahead of its international competitors. Additionally, if Avoca becomes synonymous with Artisan foods and services both in Ireland and internationally, it will see exponential growth in the coming years.

Tactics – how are we going to get there – detail?

Avoca has the opportunity to put its name to a larger range of Artisan products. In addition Avoca should consider sponsoring some local charities or causes focused on environmental issues.  Implementing the proposed business innovations of a Magalogue and Consultancy service for Artisans would significantly raise the profile of Avoca to those currently unaware of the brand, after which the Hierarchy of Effects Model[3] could translate that awareness into knowledge of the brand, liking and preference for the products offered by Avoca and translate this into an intention to buy and ultimately a purchase by new customers.

Action – who is going to do what and when?

Avoca may need to identify a specific budget to target its online market, to have this manned permanently, for ready replies to Twitter content and to other online marketing methods of communication of its brand. A larger budget may need to be considered to develop the Artisan consultancy concept, after detailed market research.

Control – how can we control, measure and develop the process?

Measurement of the success of the strategies can be measured by an increase in sales, by using daily or weekly website analytics to see trends from its website, to see click through rates and rate of impressions and other metrics to extend the customer experience on the Avoca website and once information is garnered from this source to monitor this weekly or monthly thereafter.



Smith, PR (2011) SOSTAC® Guide To Writing The Perfect Plan (eBook) published by www.prsmith.org

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith

[1]Smith P. R. The SOSTAC® Guide – to writing the perfect marketing plan [Online]. Available from: http://prsmith.org/sostac/ [Accessed 19 May 2014].

[2]Chaffey. D, Smith, P.R. 2013. Emarketing Excellence. 4th ed. Pg. 3. London & New York: Routledge

[3] The Hierarchy of Effects Model was created in 1961 by Robert J Lavidge and Gary A Steiner. This marketing communication model, suggests that there are six steps from viewing a product advertisement (advert) to product purchase. The job of the advertiser is to encourage the customer to go through the six steps and purchase the product.






Avoca now and looking forward

Avoca will need to continuously scan their external environment and to be aware of external forces which may impact on the business and a brief overview of the PESTLE analysis addresses some of these issues. In particular, from a political perspective, the tax rates as low as 9% for services remains low in order to encourage greater spending by Irish consumers and tourists, according to Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar[1]. Socially, there has been a growth in interest in artisan foods and Irish brands and this has impacted positively for Avoca, with potential for exponential growth in this area. The economic landscape suggests evidence of positive domestic consumer sentiment whilst technologically, there has been considerable growth of online sales across the sector, online shopping for food and groceries has grown from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012[2]. However, there are legal challenges for the company regarding upward only rent reviews and environmentally, changing weather may impact the sale of goods in certain areas of the business.


Looking briefly at the Porters 5 forces, and taking cognisance of the fact that Avoca is a market leader in the sector, with strong profitability and strong brand identity.  New entrants to the market would likely be hampered by high capital requirements and with challenges to brand recognition and a long lead in time to build an alternative brand.   Purchasers from Avoca, in the ABC1 group, are a limited group and the Company will need to extend their marketing pull to other age groups or to the male population, which are not generally a focus for the Company.  With regard to suppliers, the Company will need to keep a close eye on suppliers scalability and on supply chain consistency.  There would appear to be only a slight impact on product alternatives from cheaper sources and indeed from recent surveys carried out in regard to the Avoca brand, its key demographic customer has indicated that quality over cost is their main driver.













[1] Maintaining 9% tax rate could create 5,000 jobs in restaurant sector | Irish Examiner. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2013/0501/business/maintaining-9-tax-rate-aposcould-create-5000-jobs-in-restaurant-sectorapos-230009.html [Accessed 8 March 2014]


[2] Eurostat [ONLINE] available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/4-15102013-AP/EN/4-15102013-AP-EN.PDF [Accesses 6 March 2014]

Sectoral Analysis of Avoca Handweavers -Part 3 – [3 Part Series]

Blogpost Part 3 covers the main findings derived from the analysis, how they may impact Avoca’s business and what steps they need to consider in order to meet these challenges into the future.   

Blogpost Part 1 gives a high level overview of the sectoral analysis conducted to date on the business environment of Avoca Handweavers

Blogpost Part 2 highlights the main points of the PESTLE analysis undertaken, and then guides you through a more detailed PESTLE analysis of the external business environment of Avoca _________________________________________________________________________

We’ve seen the high level view of the sector in which Avoca operates in blogpost 1 of this series. We also looked at the highlights of of a detailed PESTLE analysis in blogpost 2. In this third and final blogpost of the series, we look at where Avoca may need to focus on now in terms of meeting the current and future challenges of the business in the business environment in which it operates.

Source: Flickr

From the application and analysis of the SWOT, PESTLE, Porters 5 Forces and various other models used, it is evident that Avoca will need to address a number of aspects around the the external environment of their business.

They  need to budget for any increase in VAT on the services sector as although lobbying through industry groups can help there is no certainty the tax rate of 9% will be maintained into the future.


The same applies for business and service rates which will rise in the near future as the effect of the recent Local Government Reform Act 2014 will mean the local government bodies and not the Irish Government, will need to raise more revenue to fund day to day operations.

Avoca, like other businesses in retail today, will need to recognize the key drivers for change, especially in the technological areas. Greater investment in I.T. will need to be made in order to meet the future needs, requirements and expectations of their customers and suppliers.

Payments collage

Innovations in mobile point of sale and other 1 touch payment solutions means Avoca and the rest of the retail sector need to start now to scale up their Ecommerce capabilities in order to substantially future proof their business.

Another key area that Avoca needs to be more focused upon is the existing legal structure of the company. If Avoca plan to scale the business and grow, then greater clarity around its legal construct is needed if they are to try and raise finances from private equity funds or venture capitalists.

A major driver for change is the resurgence of the commercial property market in Dublin. Avoca have some upwards only leases and the profits they have been using to expand the business organically may be soaked up once more in higher rents and rates. They will need to prepare for this key driver by perhaps decoupling or divesting part of the overall business in order to minimize exposure to risk.


Sources: [ONLINE] Available at:               http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/LocalGovernmentAdministration/RHLegislation/FileDownLoad,35715,en.pdf.           [Accessed 12 April 2014].

Cupcakes and all that…

12 April
Avoca operates as a clothing manufacturing, retail and food business in Ireland and the UK. The secondary research carried out by the Team involved looking more closely at Avoca within the retail sector. Avoca has always adopted innovative ideas to develop their product offering and have continued to perform ahead competitors despite the recession of the last number of years.

There are a number of reasons for this continued performance which includes product innovation and the ability of the company to focus on its target client and to react quickly to changing market trends when observed.

The overall retail market size is equivalent to 10% of GDP or €16 billion, although the growth rate has remained flat in 2013(footnote 1). Online shopping for food and groceries by internet users jumped from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012 (footnote 2).

Avoca have multiple offerings in different sub sectors of their business and they have successfully built an aspirational lifestyle brand based on ABC1 women aged from 25 – 70, although there is some evidence that the bulk of customers are in the 40-60 range and innovation with this in mind, may need to be considered in the future. My next post will deal with the tools used to analyse the sector, such as SWOT Analysis, PESTLE and Porters 5 forces. Till then, I’m off to make some cupcakes maybe worthy of Avoca (see picture).

1. Retail Ireland | Ibec – Business sectors. 2014. Retail Ireland | {ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ibec.ie/IBEC/IBEC.nsf/vPages/About_Us~business-sectors?OpenDocument.
2. Ibid

Sectoral Analysis of Avoca Handweavers -Part 2 – [3 Part Series]

Avoca Handweavers Sectoral Analysis

Blogpost Part 1 gives a high level overview of the sectoral analysis conducted to date on the business environment of Avoca Handweavers Ltd.

Blogpost Part 2 highlights the main points of the PESTLE analysis undertaken, and then guides you through a more detailed PESTLE analysis of the external business environment of Avoca.

Blogpost Part 3 covers the main findings derived from the analysis, how they may impact Avoca’s business and what steps they may need to consider in order to meet these challenges into the future.      _________________________________________________________________________

Sectoral Environment – Part 2

Avoca PESTLE Analysis

As Avoca’s customer profile is primarily Continue reading Sectoral Analysis of Avoca Handweavers -Part 2 – [3 Part Series]

Healthcheck: Irish Retail Sector – Damien O’Reilly

Retail Sector Analysis in Ireland

As part of our Sectoral Analysis series here on Marketing REDS, here is an another view on the current Irish Retail Sector by                 DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) Retail Management lecturer Damien O’Reilly.

In this short YouTube talk, he examines the current retail trading environment and examines the major factors at play which shape the wider sector. Finally Damien delivers some key insights and tells us how to win at retailing now, and into the future.

Where do you see the future of retailing? Let us know below.         _________________________________________________________________________   Sources: Pic by Donald Y. Tong via WikiMedia Commons


Avoca weaving a tale of innovation

Avoca Handweavers Ltd will be our business case over the duration of the Business Innovation Programme in the Ryan Academy. A successful retail brand like Avoca, with all the incremental changes that have occurred in the business model to date should provide us with a rich source of material. This will be the educational vehicle we use over 3 different assignments.

The first assignment allows us to hone our skills around extracting key data from secondary research sources, baking a further layer of innovation into the business, and presenting our key findings in a meaningful way.

Our team, made up of Evelyn Meenaghan, Shay Clarke, Denise Boden and myself Ronan Quinn initially spent time clarifying the scope of the business during the Q&A sessions with Naoimh O’Reilly, our Marketing in a Digital Era Lecturer and Geraldine Lavin who delivers Managing the Innovation Organisation module.

Template Tools                                                                                                Source 3rd i IT and Business Services Ltd                                                                                                                                                           

The relentless commitment to practical application meant tools and techniques were explained and shortly afterwards we were tasked with completing templates to kick start the process within the team.

  • Understanding your Organisation
  • Understanding the Business Sector
  • Developing your Market Scanning Skills

These templates gave a helpful framework around the tasks of understanding the business sector they were in; how the Avoca organisation functions, and helped develop our marketing scanning skills. By the end of the session, we had a better understanding of the business and what steps we need to take in order to complete our research effectively and efficiently.

Avoca Cafe
Avoca Cafe                                                                                                                                                    Source © Avoca Ireland

If you haven’t heard of Avoca Handweavers Ltd, the best way to describe the company is as a retail business. Avoca designs and manufactures its own clothing, food and home furnishings from its Co. Wicklow base in Ireland and it has 11 retail stores and cafes.

Avoca Store
Avoca Stores                                                                                                                                               Source  © Avoca Ireland

They are building a lifestyle brand within the retail sector. Pretax profits jumped by 76% in the year to date with the shops division proving to be the stellar performer.

We’ll be posting more information in future blog posts about the Avoca business so you can get a better understanding of their business.

For more information and links to Avoca why not checkout our Useful Resources page.

If you liked this post why not sign up to get posts directly into your inbox, follow us by pressing the blue button or share the article using the social media buttons below.

Its been a busy week at the Ryan Academy so all those imparted gems from the weeks sessions will get posted up here asap. If you have any questions about this post or our blog, comment below.

I will sign off with a quote revived by @NaoimhDCU but originally crafted by the wordsmith Mark Twain

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

_______________________________________________________________________________Sources:                                                                                                                                          http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/retail-and-services/pre-tax-profits-jump-73-at-avoca-1.1646335