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Shouldice Hospital Limited

Shouldice Hospital Limited

Shouldice Hospital Limited

Shouldice Hospital Limited is an 89-bed healthcare facility located in Toronto, Canada. This facility is relatively large, sitting at 17,000 square feet in a 130-acre estate. The hospital offers a variety of services, but its main area of specialization is repairing external abdominal hernias. Over 7,600 hernia surgeries are performed at the facility in a year, with patients coming from around Canada and the United States (Heskett & Hallowell, 2004). The facility’s philosophy is patient-focused and widely known for its fast and effective recovery processes. Currently, the facility is considering expanding while maintaining its service quality. The following is an analysis of how they can incorporate marketing techniques to manage the expansion while maintaining the good reputation that they have currently.

Discuss your assessment of Shouldice Hospital’s marketing challenges

There are two main issues that Shouldice Hospital Limited needs to deal with currently; first, there is a risk that competitors might use the Shouldice name. The name is also relatively hard to master and can easily be misspelled by the patients. This problem creates brand positioning issues that might affect the hospital’s performance. Secondly, Shouldice has a fear of expansion. The facility has been contemplating expansion to satisfy the unmet demand, but there is a risk that the additional demand might force pressures on the workforce that affect the quality of the services. However, failure to expand might lead to them losing some market share to competitors. They may also end up with excess capacity, reducing the quality of services they offer. Shouldice can use marketing techniques to solve each of these problems.

How did Shouldice Hospital incorporate market research into its service offerings?

Marketing research is a process of gathering, recording, and analyzing data on issues relating to the marketing of products and services. Marketing research is very important as it helps organizations understand the marketing environment (Hague et al., 2004). From the research, they can determine the information they can leverage to increase their chances of achieving their marketing goals. Shouldice Hospital needs to use marketing research to determine how it can solve its current problems while maintaining its current reputation. For instance, through marketing research, the hospital can understand the specific needs of the target customers. Market research will help them determine the features or services people in the market need. The information will help them to incorporate quality in the expansion process. Market research can also help them to determine the state of the current brand position. A brand’s position is the image of the brand that customers have. Through market research, they can determine how people see Shouldice Hospital so that they can make changes to improve the brand’s position.

Who are Shouldice Hospital’s primary customer groups? What are their principal needs and preferences?

Understanding the primary customer groups targeted by the hospital is important for its marketing effectiveness. Determining customers’ characteristics and main needs helps organizations design marketing approaches that will meet customers’ expectations. The current target market for the hospital is currently male babies. 95% of all hernias occur in males. Most of the clients have been diagnosed with primary inguinal, which is the most common type of hernia. The hospital treats only external hernias.


Shouldice Hospital can apply the following marketing strategies to deal with the challenges that they currently face. These strategies will help the facility to improve its brand image, expand while maintaining quality, and develop its competitive advantage against the current competitors.

Strengthening the Brand Image

The organization should take the following actions to deal with the fear of competitors misusing the brand’s name. First, they need to create a strong brand image that is memorable to the target customers (Kemp et al., 2014). Brand imaging is very important for marketing success. With a strong brand identity, customers are more likely to remember a company more than its competitors. Therefore, Shouldice Hospital needs to strengthen its brand by reducing the risk of imitation. They can do this by securing copyrights for the brand name and its domains. They also need to buy or block all domains that imitate their brand to avoid confusion in the market for the customers.

Dealing with Capacity Issues

This company has three main options for improving its market share without affecting the quality of its services. The following are the main considerations that they have to make: they can start operating on Saturday and Sunday. The hospital currently closes on these days. Opening up its services on the weekend has the advantage of requiring no significant costs. It will still help them to increase their ability to meet the increasing demand for products. However, this option violates their contract with the current surgeons. The decision would be met with a lot of opposition. The second option is to expand the existing facility. Expanding will help them to retain the quality while meeting the increasing demand. There will be new resources to meet the needs of the increasing customer numbers. The main disadvantage of this option is that the process of expansion will cause disruptions in the organizational processes. Additionally, the expansion will likely increase the workload and make it harder for the workers at the hospital. The hospital also has the option to expand to new markets where it can counter competition and meet the increasing demand for services. This strategy also helps them to grow the market share of the hospital.

Given the three options, the best decision to make is likely to expand the current hospital. While expansion can be disruptive, it is the best bet for meeting the demand while maintaining the current quality. Shouldice already has a good reputation at its current facility. Therefore, most of the customers want to come here and not to new facilities. The option of increasing working days might cause burnout among the workers, leading to bad quality services. The expansion to other markets can be done after the expansion. The company can slowly grow its market share nationally and internationally with this strategy.

Managing the Competitive Advantage

With increasing competition, the company can apply the following strategies to manage its competitive advantage. The main source of competitive advantage for the company is currently differentiation. A differentiation strategy is the development of a product or a product feature that sets a company apart from its competitors (Sigalas, Economou, & Georgopoulos, 2013). This feature is what makes the consumers choose them over the competitors. Shouldice has unique surgical procedures for hernias, which helps them to stand out among competitors. The company should invest in developing this advantage further by making its quality even stronger. It can achieve this by implementing the following actions. They should offer incentives to the clinical staff to be prepared to offer services to the increasing demand. The nurses, surgeons, and other clinical staff members play an important role in providing high-quality services. Therefore, their motivation affects the hospital’s quality of services. Thus, the management needs to offer them incentives that will motivate them to continue offering great services even as the hospital expands.


In conclusion, the case of Shouldice Hospital demonstrates the importance of understanding the current situation and external marketing environment. This hospital understands its strengths, which are the provision of unique quality hernia surgeries. They also understand that the external market is growing and competition is increasing. Thus, they can use this knowledge to develop strategies that help them maintain a strong brand, increase competitive advantage, and increase market share. The analysis of its current situation shows that the best strategy will be expanding the current hospital so that it can accommodate more people who already come there for its quality.


Hague, P. N., Hague, N., & Morgan, C. A. (2004). Market research in practice: a guide to the basics. Kogan Page Publishers.

Heskett, J., & Hallowell, R. (2004). Shouldice Hospital Limited (abridged). In SERVICES MARKETING: People Technology Strategy (pp. 669-679).

Kemp, E., Jillapalli, R., & Becerra, E. (2014). Healthcare branding: developing emotionally based consumer brand relationships. Journal of Services Marketing.

Sigalas, C., Economou, V. P., & Georgopoulos, N. B. (2013). Developing a measure of competitive advantage. Journal of Strategy and Management.


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Case Study #10 – Shouldice Hospital Limited. (Marketing)

Read and Review the case study. Then, in 5-7 pages, discuss your assessment of Shouldice Hospital’s marketing challenges, presenting your ideas for how the hospital can best manage those challenges. In developing your discussion, you should consider the following questions:

Shouldice Hospital Limited

Shouldice Hospital Limited

  • How did Shouldice Hospital incorporate market research into its service offerings?
  • Who are Shouldice Hospital’s primary customer groups? What are their principal needs and preferences?
  • How were staff involved in assuring that the patient experience would be at its highest levels?
  • How was Shouldice Hospital able to market its comparative advantages against local and national competition?
  • How did the hospital deal with capacity issues and plans for further growth?

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