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Marketing Communications, Planning And Consumer Behaviour

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Marketing Communications, Planning And Consumer Behaviour

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The aim of the report is to throw light on the importance and understanding of marketing communications, marketing planning and consumer behaviour for organisations for planning an effective marketing campaign. For the purpose of this report, Proctor and Gamble has been selected that is planning to launch a new range of moisturizers for their customers in international market.
The report provides a background to consumer behaviour of Proctor and Gamble market along with the psychological and environmental variables that can influence them. Further, it highlights the role of advertising and promotion in marketing. The next task outlines an integrated marketing plan for launch of new product. Finally, the report discusses the role of ATL and BTL advertising and their significance.
Customer behaviour can be defined as study of individuals and the factors that influence their decision to purchase any product, service or experience to fulfil their needs. Studying customer behaviour assists managers in better decision-making in terms of pricing, marketing, market offerings and others (East, et al., 2016).
Proctor and Gamble is a global leader in FMCG sector that provides quality and value to its customers in all product categories in which it operates viz. grooming, health care, beauty, home care and family care. As the market offering is large, the company targets customers of all age groups that belong to all types of socio-economic classes. Even though the demand elasticity of P&G’s products is low, its consumers are price-sensitive and easily switch between products due to availability of alternatives (Morgan, 2015).
Role of Advertising and Promotion in Marketing
In the modern world, where competition is intense and consumers have large choices, organisations have to master the art of effective communication to create awareness regarding their brand, products and services among the target audience. In this process, the role of advertising and promotion is critical to increase selling prospects. The overall process of marketing includes many aspects that are discussed as follows:
The basis of every marketing activity is the communication that is required to deliver the message between marketers and consumers. Marketing communications represents all components of marketing mix that help to influence the target consumers by targeting and positioning the brand as distinct from its competitors and communicating the brands unique features. Its components include advertising, direct marketing, sales and promotion, public relations and personal selling (Chitty et al., 2011).
Organisations can choose traditional or interactionist communication model to send across their message. While traditional model includes mechanical information transfer from producer to consumer before a sale is made, interactionist model focuses in meaning of interaction where senders and receivers are regularly exchanging information (Solomon et al, 2017).
Once the marketers choose the communication model, the next step is to implement it. This entails decisions on components to integrate, target market identification, media selection, and message delivery within the budget. This further decides the effectiveness of communication process and consumer decision-making.
The basic model of consumer decision-making process identifies five steps that every consumer goes through before making a purchase decision. These include problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision and post-purchase evaluation.
The purchase decisions and behaviour of customers are influenced by multiple factors that exist internal and external to the environment. The internal factors are psychological factors that include motivation, perception, learning and customer attitude towards brand and its product. The external factors include culture, family, reference groups and socio-economic status of the buyer (Newman and Cullen, 2002).
Thus, keeping in view these influencers, marketers have integrated all the components of marketing communications under one roof to ensure a consistent brand message delivery at all possible touchpoints. This not only enables them to influence their behaviour and build profitable relationship, but also allows them to make greater impact on customer’s brand knowledge and benefit from synergy (Chitty et al, 2011).
However, while undertaking promotional activities, the marketers have to be mindful of the rules, regulations and legal constraints imposed by governmental bodies. While undertaking marketing and promotion activities, organisations are restricted under laws like Supply of Goods and Service Act, Sales of Goods Act, Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations and similar others. These acts prohibit marketers to provide offensive, misleading information or undertake malpractices to sell their product. This not only aims to protect customer interest from greedy marketers but also checks the marketing malpractices and ensures that only quality products are sold (Belch and Belch, 2014). Moreover, organisations also practice self-regulation to ensure that their message deliver is consistent with the firm’s image and legal problems can be avoided.
Role of Advertising and Branding
The ultimate objective of promotion mix is to create and spread information about product and services among prospective buyers. The role of advertising and branding are critical elements that contribute in the success of marketing activity. While advertising can be understood as the part that includes creating and spreading the message regarding product features, benefits and value for customers, branding is the label that describes the company’s product/service. Branding also helps in establishing identify of product, differentiate one product from other company’s product and reassure buyers regarding product/service quality and performance (Blakeman, 2013). Thus, while a brand helps to create expectation with regards to product reliability, quality, performance and significance, advertising communicates the same to the target market.
The technology and internet boom combined with increasing competition and a need to create unique customer experience is changing the way contemporary organisations are carrying out their marketing communications. As a result, the steep decline in the use of traditional marketing media and increase in mass media costs has pushed marketers to look for other marketing tools. With increase in digitalization, there is increasing media and audience fragmentation. As such, marketers have to select specific tools to target specific audience.  Rising cost of traditional media like television and newspapers has pushed marketers towards online marketing through social sites, e-mails, websites, etc. that are not only cost effective but also have wider reach (Thorson and Moore, 2013).
Moreover, increasing global marketing and increased focus on customer experience is motivating marketers to create IMC that is more engaging and has greater impact on customers’ minds. To achieve this, they are increasingly using customer data generated from internal and external sources to gain insights regarding their target market. This allows them to create more personalized marketing content that is sent at the correct time for greater reach (Newman, 2016). Thus, these trends in IMC are changing how marketers see their customers and interact with them to create brand awareness.
Relationship Marketing
With increase in competition and availability of large number of choices and alternatives, consumers are finding it hard to stay loyal to any single brand for long-term. Hence, marketers are finding the concept of relationship market increasingly useful to develop long lasting relations with their customers. In order to achieve this objective, marketers are utilizing customer insights generated through social media, company database, their past purchases, website algorithms and past interactions to assess their attitudes, interest, needs and preferences and customize offering and marketing communications accordingly. Customized customer experience to carter to their needs leads to better customer satisfaction thereby increasing their satisfaction, loyalty and leading to repeated purchases.
This is beneficial for organisations as it leads to repeated purchase, greater profitability, higher retention, easier targeting and lower costs in terms of new customer acquisition (Lee, 2014). Organisations are also utilizing digital channels like e-mails, text messages, videos, social networking sites and others to stay in constant touch with their customers and influence their purchase decisions.
Marketing and Integrated Promotional Plan
As a part of its product development strategy, P&G has planned to launch a new range of moisturizer for its existing customers at international level. To ensure the success of the new product, it is necessary that an intensive marketing and promotion plan be adopted to create mass awareness regarding the products benefits and value. Hence, the aim of this task is to develop a marketing and promotional plan by discussing important aspects.
The beauty segment is P&G’s third largest revenue centre with brands like Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Olay and SK-II. Its competitors are Unilever, Dove, Vaseline and Axe (Morgan, 2015). Currently the company offers something to each consumer category. For example: Olay is targeted towards females aged 25 and above who have fine wrinkles and want to look younger.
In terms of consumer behaviour, consumers may find it difficult to switch beauty products that reduce the demand elasticity of product. However, factors like competition, preferences, changing lifestyles, product quality and costs may influence purchase decisions.
The objective of IMC for new product is to create awareness for new range of moisturizers under the brand name “Blossoms”.  The goal is to increase sales by capturing at least 3% market share within 6 months and create loyal customers.
The primary target for the product is females who regularly go out in the sun and require a safe easy to use moisturizer that also includes sunscreen. Thus, P&G will target college girls and working women that lie at the upper middle income level in Europe, North America and Asia.
Key Message: The basic message to be delivered to the target audience is that of a non-greasy moisturizer that not only moisturizes skin but also includes sunscreen that would provide protection from harmful UV rays and prevent sun tan.
Positioning: The positioning statement for Blossoms moisturizer would focus on its customer and product benefits. Thus, it will be: “As a part of daily beauty regime, Blossoms is appropriate for all skin types and helps to keep your skin soft and beautiful”.
Marketing Strategy: The company will adopt a pull marketing strategy wherein it will try to attract target customers with the help of marketing tools thereby encouraging them to buy and use the product (Baker, 2012). P&G’s marketing strategy is to establish Blossoms as new brand by creating its own logo for easy identification, public relation, online marketing plan through website and social networking sites and offline marketing plan through television, sales promotions, direct selling, etc.
Creative Strategy: The product will be promoted as safe and easy to use moisturizer for women that spend considerable amount of time outdoors while working or travelling. The idea is to communicate that easy and quick skin care is possible on daily basis even during busy schedules. The company will capitalize on its existing brand image and try to generate emotional appeal for the product through its genuine concern for skin care.
Marketing Tools: P&G being a global player with turnover of over $65.3 billion in 2016 spent $ 7.24 billion on advertising (Statista, 2017). This reflects its ability to spend on above the line mass communication tools like television, fashion magazines, newspapers and the likes. However, to create greater impact, the company’s marketing strategy will include a mix to both above the line and below the line marketing tools.
The mass marketing tools will include television, newspaper and magazine advertisements. Additional, tools like direct marketing through retail outlets, sales promotion through free samples and contests to share experience will be undertaken to generate public relations, customer engagement and experience. Moreover, social media marketing through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and company’s website would be used for promotion and sharing of general stories and testimonials from customers.
Budget and ROI: It will be decided on the basis of tasks necessary to meet the objective and estimating the costs for those tasks. Thus, P&G’s budget for Blossoms IMC is $ 25 million. Moreover, P&G is targeting to earn at least $75million during the period of campaign.
Barriers to effective implementation
While it is necessary to develop a strong marketing communication plan, effective implementation is also critical in determining the success. Organisations may face many barriers while implementing MC strategy lack of proper communication and coordination between people involved in planning and implementation process. Current organisations prefer to hire highly specialized individuals that require tight coordination. However, power, coordination, culture and control issues sometimes come in way of team work. Moreover, organisational structures, skills of employees, time and other financial resources and turf battles may hinder effective IMC implementation.
These can be overcome by developing open and integrated internal communication systems, greater involvement to all departments and hiring skilled and educated marketers along with flexible budgeting and greater market research (Dmitrijeva and Batraga, 2012).
Pricing Policy: The Company will adopt price skimming strategy for Blossoms moisturizer to communicate the products quality and capitalize of the existing brand image. However, during the first 3 months of the new product launch, the company will use promotional pricing strategy and sell small pack of moisturizer with companies existing popular products like Pantene and Olay. The strategy is to motivate customers try the new product, which can lead to repeated purchase (Smith, 2011).
Distribution Policy: Blossoms moisturizers would be sold through company’s existing distribution channels like retail partners including Walmart, Woolsworth, etc. and small retailers. Choosing the existing channels would not only provide shelf space with companies other products but would also be cost and time effective (Baker, 2012).
Communication Policy: The company tends to exercise self-regulation and aims to communicate actual benefits and value of the use of new product to its customers. It will plan its IMC in an ethical and legal manner thereby avoiding any controversy from competitors, customers and government. The list of ingredients will be fully disclosed on product packaging and company’s website. Moreover, the advertisements and message will be unbiased and free of racial content as the company feels that the product is equally meant for all. 
Measurement of Campaign Effectiveness
To identify the success of the IMC, it is necessary to measure its effectiveness. There are many measures available at the hand of marketer to assess the success of marketing campaign. The effectiveness of ATL tools can be measured through rating, brand awareness among target market, word-of-mouth marketing and market reach of the tools. While, measures like new customer acquisition, leads generation, cost per lead and repeated purchases can be used for ascertaining the effectiveness of direct sales and promotion activities. Moreover, site traffic, customer reviews, feedbacks, page shares, and bounce rate can be used to assess the success of online marketing channels (DeMers, 2014). Thus, regularly checking these metrics help in identify the actual health of IMC campaign.
In the field of marketing communications and advertising, the marketers are equipped with many tools to attract and communicate their product and service to their target market. These tools are broadly categorized into above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) tools.
ATL refers to conventional marketing communication or advertising activities undertaken at large scale with the use of tools like radio, television, magazine, newspapers, press and others that cost money on the basis of advertising space and time it uses. These tools are used to create wide impact regarding a brand, its product and services. In the current scenario, ATL is used to create branding effect with the help of advertisement content tailored mass market. Though the impact of ATL is high in generating mind share, it is very costly. Moreover, it is also difficult to measure the actual impact of these tools (Wharton, 2013).
BTL on the contrary includes unconventional activities that are undertaken at small scale using tools like brochures, direct mails, tele-marketing, public relations, point of sale displays and social networking sites among other sources of sales promotion (Baker, 2012).  BTL advertising is fee based irrespective of the time taken or conversion rate and is widely used to achieve repeated sales and customer loyalty. Below the line tools for marketing and promotion are not only cost effective as compared to above the line tools, they are also easy to measure in the form of customer feedbacks and sales generated. Hence, this allows marketers to gain insights on their customer and their behaviour and also identify the effectiveness of their promotion activities.
However, in the current scenario the line between ATL and BTL tools is blurring as agencies are increasingly adopting fee-based earning structures. Moreover, a new category advertising tools known as “through the line (TTL)” has emerged that uses a mix of both ATL and BTL communication tools to optimize the marketing activities for companies. TTL allows the marketers to create integrated campaigns for delivering consistent message across different channels.
Use of BTL techniques
With increase in customization and organization’s efforts to provide tailor-made customer experience, marketers prefer BTL over ATL. BTL advertising tools are widely used in case of ‘touch and feel’ products like clothes, food and durable goods including vehicles, home furnishings, and non innovative products like financial services, educational institutes that require marketers to precisely target the customers and mould their message as per their requirements (Corso, 2013). BTL activities allows the marketer to have control over the customer experience and the message that they are exposed to, which further helps to obtain customer feedback and assess the impact of their activities. Additionally, bands prefer to use BTL promotion tools as the cost of media and ATL is rising. Thus, organisations facing budget issues or selling products that require customers to engage with the company use BTL to reach out to its target market.
It can be concluded that understanding of customer behaviour and marketing tools is necessary to device and implement a successful marketing communication strategy. A marketer has to take care of multiple aspects like goals, key message, media-selection, target market, budget and measurement tools among others while planning an integrated marketing communication plan.  Moreover, increased competition, changes in technology, internet boom and international expansion have changes the ways IMC takes places. This has not only pushed marketers to become more innovative to grab attention but also provides more opportunities and greater control on communication and moulding customer experience.
Baker, M. (2012) The Marketing Book, 5th ed. London: Routledge.
Belch, G. and Belch, M. (2014) Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective, 10th ed. London: McGraw-Hill Education.
Blakeman, R. (2013) Nontraditional Media in Marketing and Advertising. London: SAGE Publications.
Chitty, W., Barker, N., Valos, M. and Shimp, T. (2011) Integrated Marketing Communications. NY: Cengage Learning.
Corso, G. (2013) How To Transcend ‘Above-The-Line’ And ‘Below-The-Line’ Thinking, Ad Exchanger. [Online]. Available at: https://adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/how-to-transcend-above-the-line-and-below-the-line-media/ (Accessed: 25 April 2017).
DeMers, J. (2014) 10 Online Marketing Metrics You Need To Be Measuring, Forbes. [Online]. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/15/10-online-marketing-metrics-you-need-to-be-measuring/#777db8d676c1 (Accessed: 26 April 2017).
Dmitrijeva, K. and Batraga, A. (2012) Barriers to integrated marketing communications: the case of Lativa (small markets), 8th International Strategic Management Conference. 58, pp. 1018-1026.
East, R., Singh, J., Wright, M. and Vanhuele, M. (2016) Consumer Behaviour: Applications in Marketing, 3rd ed. London: Sage Publications.
Lee, J.S. (2014) The role of relationship marketing investments in customer reciprocity, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26(8), pp. 1200-1224.
Morgan, P. (2015) Porter’s Five Forces: Procter and Gamble’s Competitive Position, Market Realist. [Online]. Available at: https://marketrealist.com/2015/07/porters-five-forces-procter-gambles-competitive-position/ (Accessed: 25 April 2017).
Newman, A. and Cullen, P. (2002) Retailing: Environment & Operations. London: Cengage Learning.
Newman, D. (2016) The Top 10 Trends Driving Marketing in 2017, Forbes. [Online]. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2016/10/18/the-top-10-trends-driving-marketing-in-2017/#165efc1c3ade (Accessed: 25 April 2017).
Smith, T. (2011) Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts and Establishing Price Structures. NY: Cengage Learning.
Solomon, M. White, K. and Dahl, D. (2017) Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having, Being, 7th ed. Totonto: Pearson Education.
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