Updated How to win at Markstrat (Tips and Tricks)

Markstrat is the marketing simulation game played in teams. In 2013 I posted a tips and tricks on how to win at Markstrat, I’ve now been lucky to be involved in some further Markstrat simulations, and thought it was worthwhile sharing the learnings.

The previous posts are still relevant, and go into a lot more detail, this post will simply add on and reiterate key points.

Markstrat starter information

I realised that the tip and tricks I previously posted were for those that were well conversed with the Markstrat world, there were some key points that I assumed were already known, being involved with some teams from the beginning made me realise that was not the case, below are some starting pointers.

  • completely (value of zero) use up all of your budget.
  • stick to one product per market segment, there are no exceptions to this rule, the reason being
    • it is impossible to build a product with ideal values for two segments.
    • it increases the products competition, i.e. you may have x competitors in one segment and y competitors in another segment, targeting two segments means x plus y competitors.
    • it dilutes advertising spend, making it harder to conquer a segment.
    • and similarly, the aim is to dominate a market segment, it is very difficult to do two at same time.
  • early on, when you start with two products, concentrate on the product that is the highest total contribution margin segment (CM x total estimated volume)
  • when decided on which product to spent on early on, look at which product is closest in characteristics to the competitors. You want to differentiate your product early on compared to the competitors.
  • observe the budget of competitors, you start with around $7.1m the minimum budget cap, there is a maximum budget cap of about $x so to prevent teams dominating the game, each period the minimum and maximum increase roughly 2.85% per inflation.

And the main takeaways for Markstrat beginners are;

Do not get emotionally attached to products – it is very easy to want to keep both your products at the start, don’t. You will be competing against others who may have one good product and one bad product, they will be spending money on their single good product.

Do not get emotionally attached to segments –  it is very easy to want to throw some advertising to those segments that are buying small amounts, don’t. Concentrate on one segment only.

Vodite market

As I previously posted, I mentioned to get in Vodites straight away with a budget product, this will still allow you to sell at a ridiculous price since being the only product in the marketplace.

What I have also found is that if you are competing for the highest shareprice, you need to diversify into the Vodite market as it appeases investors. Even if you are doing well in the Sonite market alone, it maybe worth creating a Vodite product to get an additional SPI bump.

Suggested Markstrat gameplay

I have seen a new starting scenario in which every single team gets the same two products, this is obviously a lot fairer, but means a number of new strategies. The main issues is because everyone starts with the same product, it is key to differentiate the products by R&D, rather than advertising spent. The problem if R&D is that the research isn’t available.

My suggested gamplay for the early rounds is significantly change your products prices (more than 30%) possibly go midway between your two products. Price is the only characteristic that doesn’t need to be R&D, use this to your advantage and then spend advertising on price. What this would do is move the market towards your product away from others.

With no research available it seems counter productive to R&D a product this early on, but if you don’t you will be wasting a round. Simple R&D a product mid point in characteristics between your two products, this will mean you are completely differentiated to your competitor products.

Advertising

The general rule is still always that; your portion of advertising spend compared to competitors will be your market share. For new products always use no-objectives to increase brand awareness. Never cull your existing two products as they have really high brand awareness, always reuse them, even if you are targeting a new segment.

Commercial Team

Previously, I posted that commercial team doesn’t really matter and to only meet the commercial team of competitors, I was quite wrong. The commercial team moves your products, a low commercial team will automatically default to your competitor’s commercial teams picking up the slack.

Once suggestion I have, increase your commercial team by a minimum of the increase the market’s segment. For the large segments it is not unusual to have more than 200 people in the later rounds.

I am happy to provide general MarkStrat help, or can discuss each period for a fee, feel free to contact to discuss.

How to win at Markstrat (Markstrat Tips and Tricks) – Market Forecast and Segment Selection

Having recently completed the Markstrat strategic marketing simulation, I thought I would share some tips and tricks learnt along the way.

When initially starting Markstrat, all the data can be quite daunting, as you progress through the periods you get a feel for what to concentrate on.

A multiple-part series, the first part will look at Market Forecast and Market Segment selection.

Market Forecast

Start by looking at the market forecast, determine which segments are the high-growth segments, get into these segments early. This has two benefits, establishing segment dominance and control which makes it difficult for competitors to enter the segment, secondly, the high-volumes help to decrease unit costs over time.

Plotted is the market forecast of each segment with an exponential trend line, forecasted additional three periods in the future. Shoppers and Savers clearly have the highest market growth in this example.

Market segment growth trend

Integrate the equations between period 0 and 8 to get total volume.

Segment Equation Total over 8 periods
Explorers y = 231764e-0.029x 1,654,717
Shoppers y = 176438e0.2592x 4,733,251
Professionals y = 160089e0.1414x 2,376,865
High Earners y = 146295e0.1815x 2,637,148
Savers y = 280506e0.1738x 4,868,505

One thing to consider is these two segments also have the smallest margins.

An estimated simple Contribution Margin can be calculated using Recommended Retail Price minus Base Cost for each existing product. The summation of market share of each product multiplied by the calculated CM of each product gives as estimated CM per market segment.

Product Est. CM
Explorers 262
Shoppers 221
Professionals 299
High Earners 286
Savers 199

Estimated segment contribution margin first period

Using the total volume of each segment multiplied by CM of each segment, we get the following segment total CM.

Estimated total segment cotribution over 8 periods

When semantic scales are available from period one, we can associate price perceptions to actual prices, adding in an exponential trend gives a rough price perception to actual price equation. Semantic scales will be discussed in more detail next part.

Product price perception vs. actual product price

Using ideal values for each segment, we can get a rough price for each segment.

Segment Ideal Values RRP = 147.77e0.1955x
Explorers 3.5 294
Shoppers 3.4 288
Professionals 5.7 449
High Earners 5.3 420
Savers 2.3 231

An estimated base cost for each segment can be determined by summing the products of individual product’s base cost and individual product’s segment market share. With the estimated segment product cost and estimated base cost, the estimated contribution margin per segment can be calculated.

Product Est. CM = 147.77e0.1955x Est. Base Cost Est. Total CM
Explorers 294 169.839 124
Shoppers 288 120.982 167
Professionals 449 211.426 237
High Earners 420 200.058 220
Savers 231 74.964 156

Again, the Professionals and High Earners segments, as expected, have the highest contribution margins.

Finally, plotting the total contribution of each market segment calculated by the segment CM multiplied by the total segment size. It can be seen that Shoppers and Savers are still the higher earning segments, even though Professionals and High Earners have higher contribution margins, though the contribution growth is slightly slower.

Total estimated segment contribution over each period

It should be noted that spending more budget in a Market Segment naturally increases the market segment size. Companies moving into the high-growth segments will naturally fuel the segment’s growth in a virtuous circle, while the abandoned low-growth segments continue to die in a vicious circle.

I am happy to provide general MarkStrat help, or can discuss each period for a fee, feel free to contact to discuss.