Ulfberht: the Viking Sword
MTV Latino targets the growing Hispanic market in the United States.
(a) Identify another product or service marketed to a distinct target market.Describe the target market using characteristics other than just demographic, and explain how the marketing mix appeals specifically to that group (be as specific as possible). Do not use a TV network as your example.
(b) Describe the product’s positioning strategy. What positioning base(s) are used and how is it positioned relative to competition?
A high tech sword named Ulfberht was made by the Vikings. As a product it was made of unique kind of steel called crucible steel which no one knew about as it wasn’t found in Europe anywhere. Therefore, if a manufacture makes something advanced coupled with high quality and fulfils the needs of a particular segment, definitely people will buy it. This gave the Ulfberht a competitive edge. The swords core flexibility, strength and lightness were a core competency of the Ulfberht as no other sword has these qualities all together (Yost, 2012, 5:21). Moreover, it was best to be known for the Viking Battle. The Viking Battle was a matter of life and death for them therefore they needed a sword that gave them courage and made them look strong that just by name of the sword the opponent would feel the fear. This was the case with Ulfberht, therefore its positioning was very different which stood out from others.
Place is another P of the marketing mix which plays an important role. You place the product where you market segment is and then you target the market. In 8th to 11th centuries, the Vikings were living in Scandinavia colonized in the areas of Europe (Yost, 2012, 4:53). This was the market segment of this special sword, but the target market was elite class (Yost, 2012, 6:18). As the process of making the sword was unique and complex and due to its high-tech properties, it was made few in number. Therefore, it was meant for few living in those areas.
Price and quality are two important aspects that sometimes clash or sometimes support each other. Being the sword of finest quality with high tech properties made it expensive. Therefore it was sold at high prices so the production cost could be recovered and earn profit. Experts call it the ‘Rolls Royce of the swords’ (Yost, 2012, 3:50). Just like Rolls Royce it was rare, expensive, made few in number and was targeted for elite class (Yost, 2012, 3:46). Moreover, elite class wanted this luxury for themselves because they wanted to be strong and win battles and this sword instilled fear in the minds of opponents.
Every product needs promotion to sell. Therefore, it needs to be positioned in the right way. It needs to differentiate itself from others. As this sword has the monopoly because of its high tech characteristics of flexibility, strength and lightness, it wasn’t hard to sell this beauty. Its brand image portrayed was that it powerful easy to handle with. Its image has such a powerful impact that even the opponents knew about this sword and would fear. This sword was their partner in battle and felt proud fighting with it. People who had this sword would have a lot of respect in society. It had loyal customers and people relied on these only there was no market competition.
Brand elements like name, logo, symbol, signature of a brand can manifest a lot of findings as they are based over an idea or ideas about a brand itself. This gives a meaning to brand and build a character of brand. For example: in logo of TOYOTA, there are 3 ellipses which denote three hearts: the heart of progress in the field of technology, the heart of the product and heart of the customer. The same way Ulfberht is a brand name and it has a logotype with a signature. The name seems to be Frankish coming from ancient empire that also consisted of Germany and France (Yost, 2012, 36:33). There is also a small signature that is a cross right in front of the name which suggests it might be Roman Catholic Church which was rivals of Vikings. So there is a possibility that the swords were manufactured by the Roman Catholic Church and then they were smuggled to north (Yost, 2012, 36:40). While on the other hand, before a signature a Greek cross was only used by abbots and bishops, and so the signature tells us that it was either the name of a monastery, an abbot’s name or a bishop’s name.
There could be a lot of reasons why a foreign word and a cross were used. It might be that they wanted to use a symbol from Roman Empire that has been disappeared, it might be that they simply liked it etc. (Yost, 2012, 36:52).
Often it happens that when good quality expensive brand hits the market and is of great importance and value to the customers and there is an increased rate of buying behaviour of the brand, other manufacturers or sellers start selling the copy of the original brand to people tricking them to believe it’s an original brand. This is known as Counterfeiting. This is a wrong way of earning money that sellers or manufactures use. The same thing happened with Ulfberht as well. There were people selling the copies of this sword tricking people to buy so they could earn huge amount of money (Yost, 2012, 48:47). And when the consumers would use it in the battle it would be sheer embarrassment as it won’t have the same characteristics that the original had. In the fake ones they made of lower carbon steel which was an inferior steel. This was sold by the illiterate sellers to the customers who were illiterate who do not have enough knowledge and can be easily tricked into believing that it’s original.
To sum up, since the excavations of Ulfberht swords, experts have found a great deal of history attached to it. Even though the exact details are still to be discovered, we can apply several marketing concepts through the finding we have. This has led us to believe that different marketing practices were existent centuries ago and it’s the history basically through which we get insights so that we can improvise them to form new practices, ideas and products which makes history very intriguing to study and learn.
Yost, P. (Director). (2012). Secrets of the Viking Sword [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html