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Please read the following case and submit your analysis. Students are required to write at least 400 words per case (not 400 words per question of each case). This does not include assigned questions. At the top of the first page, include the word count. I require minimum word counts to give students an idea of how much work is expected. Otherwise, students may do much less than they need to do in order to develop their critical and analytical thinking skills.
Opening Case: Cutco Corporation – Sharpening Your Market Entry
QUESTION 1: Why does Cutco have a Forever Guarantee? Is this something that could cause difficulty for the firm?
QUESTION 2: Why does Vector Marketing, Cutco’s direct marketing wing, typically employ college students?
Cutco Corporation—Sharpening Your Market Entry
The name Cutco comes from “Cooking UTensils COmpany,” a name once owned by Alcoa. Alcoa is a U.S. company now concentrating on work with lightweight metals and advanced manufacturing techniques. Together with W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, Alcoa created the joint venture Alcas Corporation in 1949, which subsequently became Cutco Corporation in 2009.
Cutco Corporation includes the wholly owned subsidiaries of Vector Marketing Corporation, which it acquired in 1985, and Cutco Cutlery Corporation. Vector Marketing is the U.S.-based sales arm of Cutco Corporation, which is headquartered in Olean, New York. More than 700 manufacturing and administrative employees work at the Olean location.
Cutco is now the largest manufacturer of high-quality kitchen cutlery in the United States and Canada. The product line includes kitchen knives and utensils, shears, flatware, cookware, and sporting knives. Look around your house and your friends’ houses, and you are likely to see one of their well-known blocks of knives in the kitchen! The price for one of the blocks with a dozen or so knives ranges from about $100 to upwards of a couple of thousand dollars. Some 16 million people have bought Cutco knives.
Originally, Cutco was created as product for Wear-Ever Aluminum (a company focused on cookware), which at the time was a division of Alcoa. Cutco evolved from there, eventually adding its signature Wedge-Lock handle and Double-D recessed edge on some of its knives. Two things that have never changed are Cutco’s commitment to fine craftsmanship and the Forever Guarantee. The guarantee means what it implies—that Cutco stands behind its knives’ performance and sharpness forever. They also have a forever guarantee of replacing their knives for any misuse or abuse at half the cost.
Cutco, as it operates today, was formed in 1982 following a management buyout that took the company private. As with any employee or manager buyout, it was a leap of faith for the team that bought the company. But, based on the company’s story, it was also the moment that secured Cutco’s future for generations to come. In this process, in 1985, Vector Marketing Corporation became the exclusive marketer of Cutco products directly to consumers via sales representatives located throughout the United States and Canada. Cutco International Inc. is responsible for international marketing.
Annual sales for Cutco now stand at about $200 million worldwide, but mainly in the United States and Canada. The product line includes more than 100 choices under the Cutco name alone. The extended line includes kitchen utensils, gadgets and flatware, sporting and pocket knives, and garden tools. For the Cutco line, the products are marketed via what is called “direct selling” (marketing of products directly to the consumer away from a fixed retail location). Internationally, outside North America, Cutco has Page 358independent office arrangements in Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Puerto Rico also has independently run sales locations.
In the United States and Canada, Vector Marketing Corporation typically employ college students in the 18-to-24 age range part-time during the school year and full-time during the summers to be part of their direct sales force. The sales pitch to students is good pay, flexible schedules, personal growth, no experience needed, great training, and engagement with quality products. In fact, 85 percent of the sales force at Cutco is college-aged individuals.
This sales force is a drastic change from the early days of the company. Early on, Cutco had hundreds of small independent sellers of the company’s knives and other products. Vector Marketing became one of these sellers in 1981 and stayed in this role until 1984. In 1985, Cutco bought out Vector Marketing, and Vector became the sole channel for sales across the United States. As a core member of the Direct Selling Association, Vector Marketing Corporation drives Cutco sales using college-aged students who they pay $12 to $20 per hour in a direct-to-customer business model. But internationally, Cutco products are still sold via a myriad of independent sellers in Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
These case assignments are to be completed individually. Please use your own words when completing the assignments. There is no required format, but you must write in organized paragraphs with complete sentences. Do not use bullet points. Do not use direct quotes. Do not use references.