The Web Marketplace Business Simulator is a business simulation game that two of my college courses participated in. This marketplace simulation represents a virtual business world that required dividing classes into small teams. The objective of each team was to be the most profitable organization by the end of the semester.
The 2008 introductory marketing course used an entry-level business simulation game. The 2009 marketing management course used a mid-level version of the Web Marketplace Business Simulator. The difficulty difference was apparent in the versions. I will describe both versions of the marketplace simulation
Each of my marketing courses ran Web Marketplace Business Simulator similarly. Our professors divided our class into groups of three to four. After starting a computer company, groups had to decide on the brand, advertising, pricing, and sales of their product. Group members were assigned manager positions based on these elements each quarter, and decisions were finalized quarterly.
Each version of Web Marketplace Business Simulator was divided into different target markets. Each team decided on if they wanted to join the workhorse, innovative, Mercedes, traveler, or cost-cutters market. These markets ranged from workforce, early-birds, upper-class, portability, and lower-class target markets. The goal from this business simulation game was to design a computer according to the demands of these target markets while maximizing your profits.
The entry-level version of Web Marketplace Business Simulator was extremely simplistic. Toward the end of the business simulation game, my group realized all we had to do was inflate the advertising and sales representative numbers to great heights. This simulator did not take into account over staffing your sales force or advertising excess. No strategy was needed in the entry-level version to figure how many sales representatives or how much advertising would be a wise. This entry-level business simulation game just went by inflating the amounts.
The one thing concerning the easier version of Web Marketplace Business Simulator, however, was its addictiveness. The lack of advertising options, brand options, and the non-existence of sales force promotions hindered its addictiveness and realism, however. In addition, there were only three major marketplaces.
The mid-level version of Web Marketplace Business Simulator was a better representation of a virtual business world. This version required extensive studying on marketing research and incorporate it into their brand, sales, and advertising decisions. This research presented the opportunity to pursue sixteen different marketplaces instead of the three from the entry-level game. These markets varied in sizes, from Chicago, Illinois to Rio De Janiero, Brazil.
Branding in the advanced Web Marketplace Business Simulator included more options to add to your product. Research and development was also utilized. One could build their brand how they desired while using their research & development costs wisely. Companies were to build their brand based on the marketing research info that was purchased that demonstrated what people were looking for in that product.
The advanced version of this virtual business world required figuring how much sales force you would need. Recessions and Inflationary periods made it challenging on how you should use your sales force. Hiring too much sales force would be devastating to your bottom line. Web Marketplace Business Simulator advanced version also gave players the options to give their sales force cash bonuses, vacation incentives, and training packets in order to improve the sales of the company’s products.
Along with the sales force, you must use your marketing research to decide appropriate markets to sell your product. You do not want to sell your Mercedes product in a third-world country as the target market will be limited. You also want to have the appropriate prices for each market. You can sell at higher prices in New York than Beijing. Each city has their own 12-month estimated market potential that players need to consider. Finally, you can use rebates and point-of-purchase displays to convince customers to purchase your product over competitors. It is up to the players to determine their effective and if they should continue them.
Advertising was more in-depth in the advanced virtual business world. Instead of only having the option for local advertisements, the Web Marketplace Business Simulator gave you the option to advertisement in different magazine formats. Teams must know how much to advertise in each magazine format in order to maximize reaching the correct target audience. They must also develop their advertisements according to the demands of the target market they are position their product towards. Yet again, teams need to utilize your marketing research when making these decisions.
One of the neat things about advertising was that Web Marketplace Business Simulator allowed you to cheat. Just like in the real world, this virtual business world permitted you to do false advertising. This would give customers false information and they would purchase your product. The trick is, however, if one of your competitor’s knows that you are cheating, they can send you to court. If you get caught, your company will pay a substantial fine.
I believe that the advertising could still be more in-depth for Web Marketplace Business Simulator. I felt that the business simulation should have given options to advertise in other media formats, including radio and television. In the first quarter of each year, they should allow you to advertise during the Super Bowl. A great advertisement during the Super Bowl would have a great impact on the company. A lousy one would be devastating to the company’s profitability.
I believe this virtual business world should include annual reports. Companies always investigate the annual reports of their competitors in order to get a good idea on the status of the competition, the strengths, and their weaknesses. This was not an option in our game. I also was irritated at how players never knew where a company was opening up new headquarters until it had just opened. Would you not know as soon as construction planning was set? Overall, I thought Web Marketplace Business Simulator could have given some more data in order to make decision for the present quarters.
Web Marketplace Business Simulator does a great job in teaching that in order to make money, you have to spend money. I noticed many of our competitors were reluctant to spend any money in fear of failure. Ironically, they were losing money because they were not spending it.
The biggest thing I got out of Web Marketplace Business Simulator was that marketing research is critical. One needs to understand what the marketing research data means and how to incorporate it into their product, price, place, and promotion. Deficiency in just one of these areas can have a serious effect on your profitability. The marketing research aspect of this business simulation game can be tedious, but it can be extremely addicting, also.
I do not recommend the beginner version of Web Marketplace Business Simulator. The game was too simple and did not require the strategy that advanced versions of the game do. It was very misleading when I had to play the more advanced version of this business simulation game after playing the beginner’s version. By the end of the starter’s version of virtual business world, the teams were just inflating their sales representatives and advertising with no ceiling to be concerned of.
Web Marketplace Business Simulator is a good business simulation game on the advanced levels. I do recommend it to professors wanting to improve their classes or just to add something to them. This marketplace simulation will teach your students the value of marketing research, how to communicate in a marketing team, and open them up to taking the necessary risks that are associated with creating profit. It may not be an exact replica of a virtual business world, but it is pretty solid.
If you are a professor, you may want to add on to the experience of the virtual business world of Web Marketplace Business Simulator. Our professor required each company to submit executive briefings quarterly and market plans yearly. By the end of the semester, each company had to give a presentation displaying what they had accomplished, what they wish they had done, what they would do if the business simulation game were to advance for another year, and the reasoning for all of the company’s decisions.
More information and different versions of the marketplace simulation can be found at the official website of the virtual business world of the Web Marketplace Business Siulator
The official website of the Web Marketplace Business Simulator. September 17, 2009.