Market Analysis Summary
FireRescue Depot has identified two distinct market segments to target; urban and rural fire/rescue departments. The general distinction between the two groups is the size of the population a department serves. The industry itself is primarily government based with few non-government agencies. The industry is predominantly male. FireRescue Depot faces competition from a number of companies, who all have a mail order and Internet presence.
FireRescue Depot has divided the market into two segments, urban and rural fire/rescue departments. The urban segment typically has 10 or more employees per department, and rural departments typically have fewer than 10. An urban department typically serves a population of over 10,000 people, while the rural departments serve less than 10,000 people.
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Target Market Segment Strategy
FireRescue Depot has chosen these two segments because they are the main purchasers of this type of equipment. While there are some private companies that use this type of equipment (such as timber companies, transportation companies, etc.), 97% of the business will be from the fire and rescue departments. These are very specialized tools, and fire and rescue departments have the specific needs that these tools serve. In essence this industry was developed as a response to the needs of fire and rescue departments. The only downside, as unavoidable as it may be, is that the two customer segments are part of the public sector, and therefore, their budgets are dependent upon the government budget process and public funding.
As mentioned in previous sections, the fire and rescue industry is almost always comprised of government agencies. Being a government agency is both positive and negative. It is positive because there is inherent stability in the fact that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure public safety. Conversely, each agency’s budget relies on government coffers which can fluctuate. The bottom line is that all departments need equipment, the question then becomes how often do they purchase new equipment.
The fire and rescue industry, the consumers of the FireRescue Depot’s products, have the following demographics:
- 90% have 10-hour day shifts and 14-hour night shifts.
- Participate in potentially dangerous activities with threats from: burning building materials, toxic fumes, toxic chemicals, falling building materials, chemical exposure.
- Employed by local governments.
- 95% of career firefighters are male.
- 99% of fire chiefs and officers are male.
- 61% of the career firefighters are ages 25-44.
- 31% of the career firefighters are ages 45-64.
- 8% of the career firefighters are under 25.
- 75% of the chiefs are 45-64.
- 25% of the chiefs are 25-44.
Trends within the industry include:
- Growth occurs alongside other parts of the economy such as transportation systems and urban centers.
- Volunteer departments are increasingly having difficulty recruiting and holding members as demand for the workers’ time increases.
- New chemicals, construction materials, building designs, and manufacturing materials all require additional training.
Competition and Buying Patterns
FireRescue Depot faces competition from four main sources. All four sources operate both a retail brick and mortar outlet and Internet/mail order presence. Because the market in any one geographic region is somewhat limited, having mail order sales and an eCommerce site enlarges the potential customer geographics to an acceptable figure.
The competition is:
- Galls Superstore- while this company sells hydraulic rescue equipment similar to FireRescue, their selection is quite limited.
- fireequipment.com- this company has some hydraulic equipment but much of their inventory is more fire oriented.
- Savelives.com- offers a good selection, not known for good customer service.
- The Firestore.com- has a fairly comprehensive selection that is limited by the number of manufacturers listed.
Typically departments make major purchases on a two-year cycle. Two-year cycles are the most common, because, after two years, tools are replaced to minimize the risk of failure during emergency use. The two-year cycle is of course dependent on the amount of use the tools get. Most manufacturers and fire/search & rescue departments’ policies indicate that two years is the typical lifespan of these tools. This takes into account use in emergencies as well as practice use. When a department is in need of tools they are given a budget by the city or whatever governing agency provides them with their budget and then they shop around. Requests for Proposals are rare in this industry.
The buying decision is made by the head of the fire/search & rescue department. After the department has reviewed the different options available they can decide what to purchase. The procedure for purchases varies from organization to organization, however it is very common for the city to provide the department with a set amount to of money and then allow the department to spend it as necessary. This makes sense since fire and rescue workers have far more knowledge regarding the specialized needs of the department than would a city treasurer or equivalent.