Encyclopedia Britanica What is the primary action Britannica should take at the time of the end of the case to maximize the value of its existing product line, database, and brand? Britannica’s primary course of action should be to identify a strategic partnership in which Britannica offers its name-brand recognition and access to its data content in exchange for product development, distribution and marketing services provided by the strategic partner.
In addition, Britannica should simultaneously revise its evenue model by offering multiple price points based on varying levels of access to its data and content. In 1994, the ideal partner would be Microsoft. While Britannica enjoys dominate name-brand recognition and has over four times the amount of textual content than its nearest competitor, Britannica has missed the mark in terms of developing a multimedia rich product that is even remotely competitive with that of its rivals.
With the encyclopedia quickly becoming a commodity, Britannica will have to rely on a partner that can rapidly develop and bring to market multimedia ontent which is not only compatible with the latest technology sought after by consumers, but which also fully utilizes the faster speeds of the new Pentium processors and the capabilities of updated video cards. The days of door-to-door marketing are over. Britannica must now market directly to PC-based consumers and should aggressively target consumers at point-of-sale by providing access to its CD- ROMs at retail computer stores and by possibly having software pre-installed on new computers.
In addition to point-of-sale marketing, Britannica should make its CD- ROMs available in computer magazines, schools, and libraries. If a partnership with Microsoft existed, one strategy might be to couple the marketing and distribution of Britannica software with that of Windows 95. Microsoft, for example, would have the ability to showcase new functionality through Britannica’s multimedia content. Finally, Britannica needs to create a game-changing revenue model. Britannica should gain access to PC-users and new customers by offering a free initial version of its PC-based content through distribution of its CD-ROM.
Consumers would then be able to unlock basic access for an additional fee. Additional upgrades, such as a “student” and “professional” version would be available for premium fees. Britannica could realize future cash flows by offering periodic updates of content and data for an additional fee. With the right partner, the possibilities of a strategic partnership are endless. Britannica could focus on what it does best, which is creating content and consolidating research, while its partner could focus on innovation and new functionality.
Imagine, for example, a Microsoft word-processing application that allows the user to immediately draw on facts and data through Britannica’s content without having to conduct research outside of the application itself. EMBA students everywhere would both applaud and embrace this new functionality. However, an unfortunate byproduct of this ground-breaking innovation would be that Harvard would undoubtedly revise its Encyclopedia Britannica case study and, of course, Dr. Kemerer would have to send out a revised syllabus yet again.