It’s been a while since I posted on this! I have now finished my A levels and passed with results I am really really pleased with 🙂 I am currently studying Politics at Nottingham University 🙂 I just wanted to let you know that I still receive emails from new year 13 students asking for help with essays and questions, since my mind is still pretty fresh with A level topics, I will be happy to help if you email me at arqshahhotmail.co.uk. I will also be posting my Politics university revision notes now too 🙂 thanks for supporting my blog!

Help with “marketing strategy” and marketing and other issues etc questions. F293 revision business studies ocr


So I got an email yesterday and tried to help someone answer a question that asks to “recommend a marketing strategy.” For this question, you need to base it around the four 4 p’s as much as possible.That is, product, price, place and promotion. These are some of the points I suggested to consider. Hope it helps anyone! 🙂

As in talk about product, price place and promotion like what factors are there to consider. Okay so like,
Price: can they afford it? if not why not? how do we know? what are the costs associated? if they cant afford it should they forget about it or should they find another source of finance? which one and why?
Promotion: what adverising should they use? above the line or below the line? which type? how much will it cost? justify the best way why you think that. How could they promote the product successfully?
Product: how can they make their product market well? will they need to focus on what kind of production method they will be using? which one and why? do they have the USP to market the product well? should they carry out market research to have a more customer orientated product?
Place; what channels of distribution should they use and why? which one is most beneficial and what are the drawbacks of the one you  choose? should they stock the product or have a stockist or an outlet? 
Hope this helps?? its just about getting into as much detail about these things and it should help..

Goodbye F297!

Hi everyone,

How did your F292 exam go? What questions did you enjoy and did you expect any? Did you find  any difficult? Be sure to let me know!

I hope everyone gets the grades we deserve! After today my focus will be F293 so also let me know anything you would like help with, as always on here or arqshah@hotmail.co.uk 🙂

Interest rates are set to rise in 2015′. Assess how this will affect APSL’s strategic direction. (23)

**This question was kindly posted on my ‘About’ page comments, anonymously

Interest rates are set to rise in 2015′. Assess how this will affect APSL’s strategic direction. (23)

Interest rates are the cost of borrowing and the reward for saving. If interest rates increase the cost of borrowing increases. A rise in interest rates will therefore make it more difficult to reduce gearing if they have variable interest rates because total interest payments will rise. Therefore Net profit will fall which will also make it more difficult to increase the returns for the shareholders. If interest rates are fixed then they will not be affected in the short-term but it is likely that they will only be fixed for a 2-5 year period.

A rise in interest rates will also mean that consumer spending is likely to fall as mortgage costs will rise meaning that discretionary income will fall for many households. Furthermore, it makes savings more attractive and makes it more expensive to borrow/use credit cards for big ticket items. APSL supplies to firms making Caravans, lawnmowers, shower trays etc which are all big ticket items so are likely to be bought using credit for many consumers. Therefore the demand for these products may fall, especially if incomes aren’t increasing at the same pace so APSL may face a fall in sales in the UK market. They may have to discount to maintain sales levels which would reduce profit margins.

A rise in interest rates is likely to appreciate the pound. This is because overseas investors will take advantage of higher interest rates in the UK and buy pounds to put into UK bank accounts. An appreciation of the pound makes exports dearer and imports cheaper. This will make it more difficult to achieve their objective of increasing exports. They may need to cut prices to offset the exchange rate appreciation. However, it is unlikely that the exchange rate will appreciate against all markets and it may not have an impact if other countries such as the EU put up interest rates as well. In the case of the EU and USA this is highly likely as these countries have had similar economic problems to the UK. Furthermore, products like flaxiboard are likely to be price inelastic as it is lighter and environmentally friendly so will be bought because of it’s features rather than price.

In conclusion, a rise in interest rates will make it more difficult for APSL to achieve its strategic objectives. However, they are unlikely to change their direction as they are aiming to export which spreads the risk of rising interest rates and they are have focused of product differentiation in terms of quality, making products less price elastic so less vulnerable to interest rate changes.

Evaluate APSLs three owner directors decision to realign APSL as a Niche producer, specialising in low volume,low lead time high quality parts.

Before making the decision to realign APSL as a niche producer, the business must undergo a strategic review. These should include a number of stages (apt) including:

  1. Review the environment in which it operates
  2. Identify and analyse PESTLE
  3. Undertake a market survey
  4. Research competition
  5. Auditing resources
  6. Making predictive assumptions to what internal/external factor may alter the future period.

APSL should make use of different techniques of forecasting such as:

  • porter’s five forces
  • product portfolio analysis
  • ratio analysis
  • time series

Advantages include:

  • Higher profits
  • Less waste (only producing customer orders)
  • Better customer service (more contact with customers)

Disadvantages include:

  • downtime increased [less output, more bespoke items]
  • more time invested in producing one off niche products
  • deliveries more expensive> many small items
  • harder to train employees consistently
  • higher non compliant parts




Evaluate Peter’s suggestion to compliment wages with fringe benefits (lines 55-59).

According to the case study, Peter pays 10% higher than that available to semi skilled staff in order to attract staff with the necessary abilities required to work at APSL. In addition, he believes that he should also complement wages with fringe benefits for example a subsidised canteen, yet they have been successful. It becomes clear that the employees would much rather have maximum possible pay instead.

What are fringe benefits?

  • Subsidised canteen: mentioned by APSL
  • Company car
  • Vouchers
  • Medical checks
  • Discount on APSL products
  • Pension plans

There could be a number of reasons as to why Peter would like to compliment wages with fringe benefits on top of his competitive rate of 10% above most other semi skilled staff wages. However, it is important that APSL evaluate this suggestion in line with their key objective of improving solvency ratios to ensure that they do not conflict.

One advantage of complimenting wages with fringe benefits is that it could offer a cheaper alternative compared with paying 10% higher. For example, by having a subsidised canteen, it means that staff will still have to pay a proportion to contribute towards their meals, however APSL will be providing some money towards it. If it turns out that having competitive fringe benefits such as this is cheaper than paying employees additional monetary wages, it is something for APSL to suggest. The business places an importance on having employees that are well trained and understand the business’ keen objective of maintaining high quality, and therefore if APSL do not provide incentives on top of their competitive rates, it may limit the level of skills that APSL have the capacity of employing. Inevitably, less benefits will attract less staff and therefore Peter’s suggestion of a subsidised canteen helps to contribute to better working conditions for staff to stay with APSL, which as a result, will improve quality rates due to long term, skilled staff, rather than short term, less experienced staff if APSL experience high staff turnover.

However, it is clear that staff are reluctant to accept fringe benefits, and would much rather be offered “maximum possible” pay, and then “make their own individual choices about, what, if any additional perks they buy.” Therefore, if Peter was to introduce fringe benefits such as vouchers and health/fitness club memberships, it is likely to conflict with the business’ key objective of improving solvency ratios. Certainly, investing in fringe benefits for the entire production will be a costly expense and therefore APSL must carefully evaluate whether this is a beneficial one that allows them to meet their objective. For one, having committed and happy staff that are regularly complimented with fringe benefits is likely to reduce staff turnover and as a result improve the motivation and quality offered at APSL, and in conclusion result in better profit margins. However, it is also fair to argue that buy offering such lavish benefits can be costly and therefore APSL may face jeopardising meeting their key objectives. Paying for staff to have health/fitness membership can be approximately up to £50 per month and therefore, this will have an eventual impact on the profit margins at APSL. Whilst it could be argued that having fringe benefits is essential for APSL to “select” rather than “accept”, it must be made sure that they do not hinder the company’s ability to meet objectives.

Further to this, APSL could consider having fringe benefits to specific staff members. By doing this, APSL does not waste excessive money in spending on benefits for all staff, but rather the ones who deserve it. For example, if a production member shows particular interest and has high output in a particular month, APSL could reward that employee with a company car/medical check ups. These are often one off payments that will not require a continuous investment from APSL and therefore fringe benefits can be given out when they can be afforded. This is likely to have a number of benefits. For one, by offering fringe benefits to specific employees it will not only reduce expenses and as a result improve solvency as opposed to offering it to all staff, but also means that employees are motivated to reap benefits in the future, as well as feel as though they are valued and being recognised in the business, which in hand will improve job satisfaction and incentives to do well at APSL.

By contrast, it is also reasonable to argue that Peter should not compliment wages with fringe benefits. Not only is this a frivolous extra expense that the business will occur, accompanied by the scheme to pay 10% higher, but also it is clear that employees are interested. It may be said that if employees do not wish to have fringe benefits, Peter will just be unsuccessfully investing in schemes such as a subsidised canteen, where it will not improve employee turnover, absenteeism or output. Whilst employees may feel recognised, it is unlikely that this will encourage the level of skilled workers that are interested in working at APSL and therefore Peter may have to re-evaluate this suggestion. One idea for APSL to consider is instead of fringe benefits, APSL may offer piece rate. By offering piece rate wages, employees of the business will directly benefit from working hard and achieving high output, where other employees that do not produce as much do not get the same level of pay. This is advantageous as it means there is a direct correlation between work ethic and reward, however, employees have to remember that a main focus at APSL is high quality and thus a high volume production with low quality output will not be rewarded.

Peter should not compliment wages with fringe benefits when it will not be valued by employees. The current scheme of 10% on top of regular employees is already a large proportion of expenses that APSl will have to undergo and therefore the business will need to make cutbacks, and hold back on investing in fringe benefits to reward employees when there are other, more vital issues to consider such as improving solvency.