The promotion mix of a company, also called as the communication mix, comprises of advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and public relations. In the earlier business era of low competition business organizations adopted undifferentiated marketing strategy also referred to as mass marketing that focused on producing a single product or a product line and marketing it to all the potential customers to benefit from economies of scale as it was cheaper to produce a single product and develop common marketing mix strategies for all the potential customers for its product or service.
However today majority of the companies have adopted differentiated marketing strategy also referred to as segmented marketing that focuses on manufacturing and marketing a range of products and services using different pricing, distribution and communication strategies to satisfy smaller segments to promote better customer satisfaction for each of the many target segments they wish to serve.
The shift from mass marketing to segmented marketing accompanied by the larger number of communication and promotional channels that have become available because of the rapid growth in communications technology has had a great impact on marketing communications.
The hyper competitive environment of today calls for companies to develop and manage an integrated communication strategy to build profitable customer relationships on a long-term basis.
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program is a program under which a company integrates the various components or activities of its communications mix namely advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and public relations to deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message about the organization and its products or services.
It is very crucial for companies to communicate a consistent image and message of the company and its product because in the consumer’s mind messages from different media and different promotional activities undertaken by various executives in the organization become a part of a single message about the company and its product. Conflicting messages from these different sources may result in confused images and brand positions of the products and services offered by the company.
It may lead to the fragmentation and dilution of the communication messages. And if the target customers do not get the consistent information then they may switch to competing brands as consumers are exposed to communications from a large number of competing brands offering choices as never before. The basic purpose of market segmentation and target marketing is to divide large heterogeneous markets into smaller and fairly homogeneous groups so that the companies can anticipate uniform responses from the target customers to their marketing stimuli.
As the potential customers in each selected target segments will be fairly homogeneous the company can serve them better by developing and implementing unique marketing mix program campaigns for each individual target segment as per its specific needs. When a company chooses to serve more than one target segments it becomes very crucial for the company to communicate a consistent image about the company and its products to target customers, though the means of communicating the same may be different and customized to the needs of the specific target segment.
Through a well designed Integrated Marketing Communications program the activities of the different elements of the marketing mix for the chosen target segments can be coordinated to communicate a consistent image so that the image is not fragmented or diluted in the minds of the potential customers in any segment. Gillette is the best example of a company that I know of which presents a consistent image about the company and its products across all its target segments through its various marketing communications programs.
The Gillette Company is a unit of FMCG major Proctor & Gamble and is a manufacturer and marketer of safety razor and razor blades. Gillette has selected both the male and female segments in a number of geographic segments that it caters to all over the world. Customers irrespective of their target segments perceive the products of Gillette to be of high quality and of high performance that are consistent and reliable.
And this image has been communicated consistently to its potential customers in all its target segments irrespective of the means of communications it has adopted. Gillette has made huge spending in the advertisements throughout the globe to differentiate its products from those of its competition. The TV advertisements of its products irrespective of the country they have been made in have used slow motion scenes of men shown in different roles interspersed with shot of products and its famous tag line “The best a man can get”.
The company has used leading sportsmen who have performed very highly on a consistent basis in their respective fields. For example it has used sports personalities like David Beckham Roger Federer, Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods in the US markets and Rahul Dravid a famous cricketer in the Indian market to convey a consistent image of a company that offers high performing and reliable products to its potential customers everywhere and has thus been able to build brand equity for its products in all the different market segments.
Similarly Gillette uses highly standardized advertising throughout the world to support its global brands. For example Gillette’s advertisements for its Gillette for Women Venus razor are almost identical in all its global markets except for small changes to suit the local culture in respective countries. This has enabled the company to gain consistent worldwide image for its brands and at the same time the company has been able to achieve greater global advertising coordination at comparatively lower advertising costs.
References Gillette Winners, retrieved December 01, 2008, from http://gillettewinners. com Keller, Kevin, L. (2004). Strategic brand management: Building, measuring and managing brand equity, London: Pearson Education Inc. Kotler, Philip, & Armstrong, Gary. (2006), Principles of marketing, London: Pearson Education Inc. Solomon, Marshall, R & Stuart, Elnora, W. (2005) Marketing: Real People, Real Choice, London: Pearson Education Inc.
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