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Case Method
Case Method
Manual for Students of MKT2316
Objective of Case Analysis:
To develop your analytical, problem solving and decision making abilities. As you proceed
through the Business Administration program at Algonquin College and into the business world,
you will frequently be called upon to analyze and solve real business situations. Case Method
provides you with a systematic and methodical approach to doing so.
What is a Case?
A business situation which has existed in a firm to which a solution is not given.
A collection of facts with which the analyst is required to work in order to achieve the best
possible solution.
A collection of facts which the real business person does not ordinarily have collected in such a
concise form.
Report Format for a Written Case Analysis:
Executive Summary
Situation Analysis
Central Problem
Evaluative Criteria
Analysis of Alternatives
Decision and Justification
Bibliography and Appendix/Appendices
Case Method
Example Case:
As we work through the components and requirements of a good case study analysis, please refer to the
WestJet case below:
WestJet, once the darling of the Canadian airline industry has seen more ups and downs
than a roller coaster this year. With revenues of over $1 billion, the Calgary based
discount carrier has seen two consecutive quarters of losses, the first loss in its nine
year history. Industry analysts attribute these losses in part to intense competition and
rising fuel costs.
In March of 2005, the competitive landscape in the Canadian airline industry changed
significantly with the demise of Jetsgo, the Montreal based discount rival whose
aggressive pricing drove down farces until March when it declared bankruptcy. One
industry analyst puts it like this “When you have an airline like Jetsgo that is selling
tickets at below cost, and it disappears, of course it’s good for the others, because they
are not forced to follow with the prices increases.” “On average, prices have tripled on
the major routes. Toronto to New York used to be $64; it is now $139. TorontoMontreal used to be $80; now it is $150. Toronto-Vancouver used to be $99; now it is
$300. It’s still a good value for business travelers-it’s still cheap. But for leisure
travelers, it’s expensive now, so they may not fly.”
WestJet’s biggest rival is Air Canada – although WestJet’s costs are 45% less, customer
service is better, on-time performance is better and lost baggage ratio is better.
Together, WestJet and Air Canada control 90% of the Canadian market, with Air Canada
as the market leader.
Air Canada, despite some years of difficulty has come on strong recently. Emerged from
bankruptcy protection with a lower cost structure (although still not as cost competitive
as WestJet) and has recently announced the purchase of smaller jets that will allow it to
compete with WestJet in Canadian regional markets. Air Canada has shifted its larger
aircraft to major international routes.
WestJet is growing…
WestJet recently tripled its number flights to go head to head with Air Canada for the
lucrative business traffic on busy routes to Ottawa and Montreal from Toronto. It has
also increased the number of flights in a number of routes in Canada. WestJet also
recently expanded in the United States, adding destinations like Las Vegas and Fort
Meyer’s Florida. The company will add 15 planes this year and take some of its older
fuel-guzzling jets out of service. They are also thinking of adding European routes.
Up until now, WestJet’s image has been “folksy” and sometimes corny. It is still seen by
many as a regional carrier. The airline has a well-established images as the “little airline
that could” – the “Cinderella story” of the airline industry. In the past WestJet relied
virtually exclusively on price point advertising, with the promotions like the “Fly for a
Nickel” campaign. They have a unique corporate culture where employees, who are
shareholders, are empowered to make corporate decisions on the spot.
Case Method
In contrast to WestJet’s image as the “little airline that could”, consumers see Air
Canada as “bland”, “too big and fat” and “confused” with terrible customer service and
disgruntled employees.
The Canadian Traveler…
Canadian travelers differ in their needs. The “low cost traveler” makes up approximately
36% of the market. These travelers are looking for the lowest fare – and that is all. The
“business traveler” makes up 30% of the market and they are more concerned with
legroom, in-flight entertainment and reward programs. They want to arrive for their
meetings feeling rested and refreshed and are not willing to sacrifice too much on the
frills. They tend to opt for full service carriers that offer flexibility in schedules and
connections – although a reasonable fare is still important to them.
What’s next for WestJet?
WestJet is not sure if their image as Canada’s national low-fare, no frills airline will
continue to work for them. If they want to expand to the US and Europe, and increase
their focus on the business traveler, some experts feel that they are going to have to
change this image. One senior executive explains “our marketing strategies must
change to ensure we are marketing a correct picture of our airline to our guests and
potential guests.”
Other industry experts feel that WestJet’s image has served it well until now and it can
be tailored to suit its expansion to an international carrier. They warn that there is the
potential to lose its market differentiation and turn into another Air Canada.
Senior executives at WestJet are concerned about their profit picture and want to turn
things around fast. What strategy would you recommend for WestJet?
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is completed last and appears at the beginning of the report. It should
provide an overview of the key facts of the report. Often, the summary may be the only part of
the written report read by a senior executive. It should provide adequate detail to allow the
executive to make a go/no go decision. Should the executive need more information, the body of
the report and appendices will provide it. The executive summary is the most important element
of the report. The information and conclusions presented in the executive summary must be
supported by the facts and detailed analysis included in the report.
Case Method
The Executive Summary:
Is a “Stand alone” document.
Appears first but done last.
Is an overview of all key facts.
It includes:
Key Factors from the situation analysis
The core problem or issue
The chosen alternative and its reasons for selection
Any significant issues which may arise from the chosen alternatives and
recommendations to deal with these issues
Benefits to the organization resulting from the decision
Description of the implementation
Your Executive Summary should:
Be between 1-2 pages in length.
Be written in full sentence, essay format.
Be written from a client/consultant perspective.
Try to sell your solution.
The Executive Summary as applied to WestJet:
ABC Marketing Corporation is pleased to be part of this very exciting undertaking by
WestJet. Through our detailed analysis, ABC was able to determine which marketing
strategy WestJet should embark upon to improve its profitability.
ABC recommends that WestJet focus its marketing efforts on the consumer travel
2. Situation Analysis
The situation analysis is an objective evaluation of an organization’s internal and external
It is completed in order to determine:
The central problem/issue facing the organization
The organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which must be used
and/or dealt with in order to address/solve the core problem/issue.
The organization’s mission short and long term objectives. They will be used later in
determining the best solution.
Case Method
To successfully complete the Situation Analysis, it is recommended that you complete the
following steps:
1. Carefully read the case several times
2. Reread the case frequently during the period you are working on it
3. Determine the key facts and opinions, underline them or write them down
4. Facts may be stated explicitly in the case or deduced from the given data
5. If you miss or misinterpret an important fact, your solution may not be successful
6. Any financial or statistical information provided must be fully assessed
7. Record the relevant facts.
There are two parts to the Situation Analysis:
Internal Environmental Analysis (Strengths and Weaknesses)
External Environmental Analysis (Opportunities and Threats)
1. Internal Analysis (Strengths and Weaknesses)
The internal analysis is done to thoroughly understand the current situation in the
organization and to determine its key strengths and weaknesses. An organization’s
ability to take advantage of opportunities and/or fend off threats depends on its strengths
and weaknesses.
Note strengths are “what is now, not what might be in the future.” For example, a key
strength is we have increased market share by 10 % in the last year – not we plan to
increase market share by 10% next year.
Quantification of strengths and weaknesses dramatically enhances the meaningfulness
of your analysis. Indicating that sales have increased is interesting, but indicating that
this year sales increased 15% while the size of the market increased by only 5% is
illuminating. If the information is available make sure it is used. Students may need to
manipulate financial data provided in order to make it more meaningful.
Case Method
You should determine an organization’s strengths and weaknesses relative to:
Mission, short and long term objectives, corporate values and management
Target markets, positioning
Market share
Finance (sales, net income, gross margin, cash flow, ROI)
Organization (management)
Marketing (products, prices, promotion, channels, personnel, policies)
Use of technology
Company culture
Research and development
Internal Environmental Analysis as applied to WestJet:
Revenues of over $1B
WestJet’s costs are 45% less, customer service is better, ontime performance is better and lost baggage ratio is better than
it’s biggest rival, Air Canada
Together, WestJet and Air Canada control 90% of the Canadian
WestJet has a unique corporate culture where employees are
also shareholders and are empowered to make corporate
WestJet has recently tripled its number of flights
WestJet has expanded to the US market
Adding 15 planes and getting rid of some of its older, “fuelguzzling” fleet
“Folksy” sometimes corny image
Established image as the “little airline that could”
In the past, WestJet has relied almost exclusively on price point
Marketing to date has focused primarily on price point
Limited financial resources given the Company’s poor financial
Case Method
External Environmental Analysis (Opportunities and Threats)
The external or macro environment is made up of factors over which the organization has
very limited or no control, but which pose ever changing opportunities and threats.
The external environment may change quickly or more slowly. Many key environmental
changes happen over time. For the organizations which recognize the trends early,
significant opportunities often exist. Those who do not recognize the trends may face
significant threats.
For example, the law in Ontario has changed to prevent smoking in public places. Some
bar/restaurant owners recognized early that a trend toward non-smoking was happening
and changed their marketing strategies and were not impacted – while others did not and
went out of business.
Quantification of opportunities and threats dramatically enhances the meaningfulness of
the analysis. Indicating that a market is growing is interesting but indicating that the
market growth last year was 15% and is projected to grow by 15% annually for each of
the next 5 years is illuminating. If the information is available make sure it is used.
You should determine an organization’s opportunities and threats relative to:
Macro-environmental factors such as: competitive, regulatory, environmental,
social and technological forces.
Market/Customer factors such as: market segments, customer profiles,
demographic factors, geographic factors, needs, attitudes, lifestyles, buying
behaviours, buying centres, buying processes (see your text).
Competition: Who are you competitors? What are their strengths and
Marketing Intermediaries: What are the significant opportunities and/or threats
associated with changes or trends relating to specific intermediaries or
intermediaries in general (i.e. middlemen, physical distribution firms, marketing
services firms, financial institutions, electronic commerce, supply change
management, etc.).
Suppliers: What are the opportunities or threats associated with changes or
trends relating to specific suppliers or suppliers in general (i.e. number, size,
location, use of technology, terms or payment, level of support provided, product
quality, product innovation, product availability, etc.).
When completing your Internal and External Analysis you should:
Have a minimum of 5 points each of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and
Make no mention of the problem to be solved at this time.
Avoid mixing internal/external factors, do not mention the organization being
analyzed in the external analysis.
There will not necessarily be opportunities or threats for each factor listed.
A particular trend/change could fall under several factors. Do not include the
information more than once.
Case Method
External Environmental Analysis as applied to WestJet:
Further expansion into the US
Adding European routes
Air Canada seen as “bland”, “too big and fat” and “confused” with
terrible customer service and disgruntled employees
“Low cost traveler” makes up 36% of the market
“Business traveler” makes up 30% of the market and are
concerned with legroom, in-flight entertainment and reward
Industry pricing increases on the increase
Industry reports indicate an increase in consumer travel
(Marketing Magazine, Spring 2003)
Continued pressure from Air Canada who is able to offer the
business traveler more flexibility in schedules and connections
Intense Competition
Rising fuel costs
Terrorism and security issues
Innovations in technology reducing the amount of business travel
3. Assumptions:
As in real business situations, case studies rarely supply all relevant facts and they may
not be available through research because of time, resource or other constraints. It may
be necessary to make assumptions for important missing information you feel is needed
to enhance your solution. Students should list the assumptions in the report and indicate
whether or not each assumption is a constraint for the company or an enhancement.
Assumptions as applied to WestJet:
Regulatory bodies within the Canadian airline industry will permit another airline (such as
WestJet) to offer service into the US and Europe.
This would represent an enhancement.
Case Method
4. Central Problem:
A case method approach to decision making may be utilized to address small business
problems, complex corporate issues, personal issues - in fact case method is suitable for
assisting in making any decision. It’s a decision making model.
Having completed the situation analysis it is time to define the central problem. The
pattern of facts, opinions, SWOTs, as well having a sense of the organization’s
mission and objectives gained from the analysis will allow you to determine the
central problem.
The central problem should be clearly stated in one sentence and is based on the
analysis of the SWOT. The problem can be written as either a statement or as a
Be sure that you are discussing the core problem and not a “symptom” of the problem.
Central Problem as applied to WestJet:
What marketing strategy should WestJet implement to regain its profitability?
Note that a symptom was that WestJet saw “two consecutive quarters of losses”. To
arrive at the problem, you must ask why they saw two consecutive quarters of losses.
5. Evaluative Criteria:
Evaluative Criteria are the factors most important to an organization that are used to
guide decision-making. The most important factors are often contained in an
organization’s mission/vision statements and in the organization’s objectives. The
solution which can best meet the evaluative criteria is usually the solution which is most
likely to be successful.
Before evaluating possible courses of action and making a decision one must identify the
criteria against which the alternatives will be compared.
Examples of evaluative criteria are:
Customer satisfaction, Short-term profits, Long-term profits, Sales, Market
share, Image, Company geographic growth, Product line growth, Product
quality, Employee growth and satisfaction, Innovation, Return-on-investment
(ROI), Time to Market, Image, Commitment to the natural environment,
Corporate citizenry, Positive supplier relations, Positive intermediary
relations, Commitment to the appropriate use of technology, Level of risk,
When completing your Evaluative Criteria, you should:
Ensure that they are based on the core problem and SWOT.
Prioritize them (i.e. most important criteria comes first).
Quantify each criterion to the extent possible (i.e. increase market share by
10% in one year).
Provide justification as to why you chose the criteria that you did.
Develop a list of 3 to 5 evaluative criteria.
Case Method
Evaluative Criteria as applied to WestJet:
Criteria Quantified:
1. Short-term Profits
2. Return-on-Investment
3. Image
4. Ease of Implementation
Short-term profits was chosen as an evaluative criteria because…etc.
6. Alternatives:
It is now time to develop alternative solutions to the central problem defined above.
Based on the SWOTs identified in the situation analysis, plus the evaluative criteria
defined in the previous section, develop a number of potentially viable alternative courses
of action (alternatives) that could be taken to resolve the central problem.
Please note that a “status quo” (continuing with your current plan) alternative should also
be assessed as a possible solution.
Alternative solutions should provide as much relevant information as possible. Ultimately,
the solutions to be meaningful, must include supporting financial information if it is
available in the case. All business decisions are assessed from a financial perspective.
Ideally a case with some financial analysis should be selected.
Although an alternative solution may be “to collect more data or information” it will not be
allowed in the case work as it would be limiting during decision making practice. It may
however appear as part of the implementation.
Each alternative must include the following information:
Target Market
Positioning Statement (see formula below)
Brief Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, Distribution)
Other Strategic Elements - any major issues that might arise as a result of
this alternative. Occasionally, there are some important weaknesses or
threats from the situation analysis which you were not able to address within
the marketing mix structure. This is the place to put them.
Financial Elements (if possible) – these can go in the appendices.
When completing your Alternatives section, you should:
Make sure the alternatives are objectively written – meaning no decision has
yet been made as to which alternative will be selected.
Alternatives must answer the Core Problem.
There is no analysis done within the alternatives.
Status Quo must be included.
Case Method
Be sure to show financial costs analysis in detail (may be included as an
Show linkages between Alternatives and SWOT – you can do this by writing
“Link 1” in the Alternative that corresponds to “Link 1” in the SWOT. This
linking ensures that each alternative solution flows from a key SWOT
indentified in the situation analysis.
Have 3-5 detailed and well thought out alternatives. Don’t forget to include
the Status Quo.
Developing a Positioning Statement:
Your positioning statement should follow the formula below:
The (service/product name)
is a (service/product category)
that (key benefit/reason to buy)
for (name the target audience)
who (statement of need).
Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
our (product/service) (statement of primary differentiation)
Positioning Statement as applied to WestJet:
WestJet is an airline that provides cost effective, convenient, consumer oriented
travel service for the consumer traveler who needs reasonably priced, efficient
and reliable air travel. Unlike Air Canada, our prices are lower, on-time
performance and lost baggage ratios are superior.
List of Alternatives as applied to WestJet:
Status Quo – leave things as they are.
Position WestJet as the business travel provider of choice.
Market WestJet as an international carrier for the US and European traveler.
Position WestJet as a key provider in the Consumer market.
What each Alternative must include as applied to one alternative for WestJet:
Primary Target Market
Males/Females between the ages of 18-50
Frequent travelers who appreciated good value and service
Positioning Statement
Case Method
WestJet is an airline that provides cost effective, convenient, consumer
oriented travel service for the consumer traveler who needs reasonably
priced, efficient and reliable air travel. Unlike Air Canada, our prices are
lower, on-time performance and lost baggage ratios are superior.
4 P’s
Low cost travel to the consumer traveler between the ages of 18
and 50.
WestJet will utilize IMC tools relevant to the consumer market.
The Airline will provide cost effective travel to the consumer
Prices will be 10% lower than those offered by Air Canada.
7. Analysis of Alternative
The next step is to analyze the alternatives, in preparation for the decision as to which
alternative will be implemented.
There are two parts to the analysis:
I. To compare the alternatives on the basis of how well they meet each of the
evaluative criteria.
II. To list any other advantages or disadvantages of the alternative solutions not
already covered in part one.
Part I - How Well Alternatives Meet the Criteria
A decision matrix is a useful way to assist in comparing alternatives on the basis of how
well they meet the evaluative criteria.
Weighting of criteria measures how important each criterion is compared to other
The criteria should be ranked in importance to the overall decision and total to
1.0 as per the example on the PowerPoint slide deck.
Once the criteria have been weighted, you must rate how well each alternative
meets each criterion compared to the other alternatives. The rating scale is 1 -10
where 1 means the alternative does not meet the criterion at all compared to the
other alternatives and 10 means the alternative fully meets the criterion
compared to the others. The weightings and ratings must be justified in the
Case Method
The score for how well a specific alternative meets a specific criterion is
calculated by multiplying the weight by the rating.
The scores are then totaled for each alternative.
The alternative with the highest total score may be the best choice but the
advantage /disadvantage analysis remains before a decision is made.
Part II Advantages and Disadvantages of Alternatives
This part of the analysis of alternatives describes any advantages or disadvantages not
already addressed in the criteria based analysis previously completed. How well
each alternative fits the key SWOTs, is a question that will provide advantages and
disadvantages for different alternatives.
Analysis of Alternatives as applied to WestJet:
Evaluative Criteria:
Alt. #1
Alt. #2
Alt. #3
Alt. #4
(Consumer Traveler)
Ease of
Case Method
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Alternative #1 – Status Quo
Advantages: No changes required, no problem in
implementing this solution
Disadvantages: No benefits to be realized by WestJet
Alternative #2 – Business Traveler
Advantages: Greater short-term profits, good ROI, low risk
Disadvantages: Costs incurred quite high
Alternative #3 – US/European Traveler
Advantages: Greater short-term profits
Disadvantages: Costs incurred quite high, risky
Alternative #4 – Consumer Traveler
Advantages: Greater short-term profits
Disadvantages: High risk
8. Decision and Justification
Decide which alternate provides the best solution to the central problem. Justify your
choice by demonstrating why it is better than the other alternatives.
Justify the decision by:
Using specifics from the situation analysis to show how your choice best fits the
organization’s internal and external environment.
Discussing why your choice best meets the organization’s evaluative criteria and
best supports the organization’s long term objectives and mission.
Using your financials to support the decision.
Discussing the disadvantages of you solution and how they will be dealt with.
Selling the benefits of your solution.
Be careful in choosing your alternative. Avoid alternatives that could potentially solve the
problem, but at the same time create a greater problem or require greater resources than
the organization has.
You can only choose one alternative.
Decision and Justification as applied to WestJet:
“ABC Consulting” recommends that WestJet develop an innovative marketing strategy
that will focus on the consumer travel market.
Case Method
The significant size of the consumer travel market (industry statistic) presents WestJet
with the greatest opportunity for short-term profits…
To minimize risk, a test market strategy will be utilized for the initial launch…
9. Implementation
This section is to contain the Strategic Imperatives (most critical actions) that must be
completed to allow for implementation of the solution. Concisely outline who should do
what, when, where, why. Show clearly the time line and responsibility for each key event.
The Implementation should consist of two parts:
Written description of your implementation
Timeline in table format
When completing your Implementation, you should:
Discuss the tactical implementation of your recommended alternative.
For each P (i.e. Product, Promotion, Distribution and Price), discuss in detail
what needs to be done, by when.
Be specific and provide a detailed timeline.
Depending on the case, the implementation should cover at least the 1 st two
quarters and perhaps look out one year.
Ensure that the plans are realistic (given the company’s financial situation).
Implementation as applied to WestJet:
As identified in the decision and justification WestJet’s marketing strategy is XYZ. The
tactics identified below clearly describe the step-by-step process to successfully
implement the marketing mix.
Marketing Research: Primary and secondary research is required to identify
new trends in the consumer market’s buying travel behaviour. Primary
research will include…
Product/Service changes: Will build on the already existing service strengths
by… which will continue to empower employee.... Fifteen new planes will be
added to our fleet inventory…
Pricing strategy: To remain competitive in the airline industry, we will
continue to focus on negotiating low costs with our suppliers which will
maintain our current pricing position in the market…. Promotional discount
strategy will be developed for the consumer market…
Communications plan: A repositioning campaign will be implemented
focusing on our superior customer service at a reasonable price. The
communications mix could include…
Distribution plan: expand flights into key consumer markets such as…
Appendix B - The attached timeline states in detail the action plan and critical
Case Method
“monitor and evaluation” stages.
First Quarter Implementation Plan:
Commence research on how to best
communicate with consumers in the
18-50 age group.
Director of
Week 1
– Sept.
To maximize
of IMC efforts
Second Quarter Implementation Plan:
Remainder of the Year:
10. Bibliography and Appendices:
Reference all work of other individuals including course notes, textbooks, journals,
periodicals and all other sources. Also reference discussions held with experts. Apply
APA reference style.
Feel free to include other supporting material, calculations, charts, graphs etc. in an
appendix or appendices as long as the material adds value for the reader. Be sure to
include the appendices including page numbers in the table of contents.
Bibliography and Appendices as applied to WestJet:
Tuckwell, Keith J. Canadian Advertising in Action. 7th ed. Toronto: Pearson, 2006. 30-32.
Appendix A – Financial Analysis for the moving into the Business Traveler marketplace.