As a result of globalization, competition increase and changes in the business environment has made it difficult for organizations to design and sell or offer products and services that are different from those of their competitors. Product and brand proliferation as well as product homogenization make it thus necessary to establish innovative, efficient and attractive ways to communicated product or service added values to consumers. As such, traditional ways of communication have been overtaken by information communication technology with increasing agencies as well as advertising channels. In the present, there is the intensification in marketing communication, thus target consumers have numerous information contending for their attention. As a result, it has lead to information overflow and huge message clutter. Companies are, therefore, moving towards cost efficient and effective marketing communication methods. Thus, accountability is the newly introduced feature in a marketing communication model due to high media cost.
In addition, consumer demands are increasing; hence their buying decisions rely on product quality, better service and lower prices. With such diversification in lifestyles and empowerment of consumers, marketing communication should move swiftly in order to address the new changes. Moreover, increasing departmentalization and other internal factors have necessitated an efficient and effective marketing communication. This is because of increased inefficiencies in cost and brand communication inconsistencies. New technology also makes it necessary to have an effective marketing communication campaign.
Marketing communication has had a considerable impact on the business industry. Proctor & Kitchen (2002) suggests that it is essential for marketing communication to aim non-customer stakeholders which include employers, regulators, investors and others. Ideally, it is evident that marketing effectiveness depends considerably on communication effectiveness since any business environment is thrilled by information flows. Evidently, communication message should be suitable to the media. Therefore, the research seeks to establish and develop a marketing communication model derived from academic research and use it to analyze the marketing communications campaign of Coca Cola Company soft drinks brand.
Communication may be defined as a process that results in the establishment of oneness or commonness of thought between two parties, normally known as the sender and the receiver. Relationships and elements of communication can be modeled in a structural manner. Kotler (2005), observe that communication involves two parties, that is, a sender and a receiver; communication tools such as, media and message; and four major functions. The functions are encoding, decoding, response, as well as feedback. According to Delozier (2006), “oneness of thought” implies an ‘understanding’ or ‘sharing’ relationship that exist between sender and receiver. Therefore, marketing communication plays a role of sharing the meaning of an organization’s total product offering with non-consumers and consumers in a way that will guarantee the realization of customer goals, as well as focus the company towards attainment of its own goals.
Previously, promotion act as a communication link between the firm and its customers. However, in the present, promotion is viewed as an essential element in the overall marketing communication of an organization with its customers. The elements of a promotional mix are publicity, direct selling, personal selling, advertising, and sale promotion. Promotion should be co-ordinate with other communication elements such as product, price and retail outlet, as well as other company activities that has considerable impact on product offering.
Kotler (2005) defined marketing communicator tasks to include, identify the target audience, determine the response sought, choose a message, and choose a media through which to send the message, select a message source, as well as collect feedback. He further asserts that, there are six ‘buyer readiness states’ that the target audience can assume. The states include; awareness, knowledge, opinion, preference, conviction and purchase. After defining the desired response, a communicator should design an effective message. The message should get attention, grasp interest, arouse desire, as well as obtain action. Obviously, communication message should be suitable to the media.
According to Delozier, marketing communication refers to the continuing conversation between sellers and buyers in the market place. The Figure 1 below summarizes the linkage between marketing and marketing communication.
Staudt and Taylor (2005) wrap up that marketing effectiveness depends considerably on communication effectiveness since any business environment is thrilled by information flows. The available information on buyer’s reaction and on the product offerings influences the perception of the buyer on the product. Hence, ideally and as Delozier puts it, all marketing mix elements must be communicated effectively through pertinent channels of information. Kotler (2005) identified two communication channel types, that is, personal and non-personal channels. Personal involves two parties communicating directly thus allowing for direct personal addressing and immediate feedback, whereas non-personal includes atmospheres, media and events.
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Marketing communication has had a considerable impact on the business industry. Kitchen and Schultz (2003) opine that an integrated marketing communication is essential since it is a collective term that incorporates all planned messages necessary in building a brand. Ideally, and as Duncan (2005) puts it, marketing communication integrates public relations, customer service, events and sponsorships, packaging, personal selling, direct marketing, sales promtion as well as advertising. Much of integrated marketing communication target consumers, however, (Kitchen and Schultz, 2003; Proctor & Kitchen, 2002) suggests that it is essential for marketing communication to aim non-customer stakeholders, that include, employers, regulators, investors and others. They believe that the nexus between corporate communication and integrated marketing communication has considerable implications on organizational effectiveness judgment by stakeholders. Corporate communication is used to target non-consumer stakeholders through counsel and advice offered by the top executive in relation to the organizations image and reputation. As such, Kitchen and Schultz (2003) enumerated activities such as lobbying, advertising, corporate sponsorship, and financial relations as used in corporate communication to target non-consumer stakeholders.
The main aim of IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) is to create awareness in relation to a company’s service or product, informing consumers in relation to features and benefits, and at the same time, move the target customers towards utilizing a service or making a purchasing decision. IMC does not only aid the consumer in making a buying decision, but a well-organized Integrated marketing strategy helps discover the best places and times when marketing communications reach the targeted audience. Nick and Raman (2003) assert that in IMC approach, each medium of communication enhances the contribution of the other media.
Ideally, and as Lal et al. (1999) maintains, an effective IMC strategy is guided by a planning process. Therefore, a 6M’s model can be used to aid in the planning process, hence facilitating decision making.
6 M’s Model
The 6M’s model sets to help advance the product purchase decision stages (market, mission, message), and the mode of communication to use, marketing spending, as well as determining the results of IMC strategy. The 6M’s stands for; Media, Market, Mission, Message, Money, and Measurement.
Market, Mission and Message
The main aim of a marketing communication is to influence a consumer to make a decision to use a service or buy a product, as well as drive a consumer through a buying process. When an organization understands the target market, knows its specific objectives, and the points that need to be communicated, then it can help a consumer through the buying process. The consumer buying process can be elaborated using the E.K. Strong’s AIDA model.
E.K. Strong’s AIDA model
The critical goal of marketing communication is to persuade an individual to make a purchase. Therefore, Integrated Marketing communication campaign seeks to assist consumers through the buying process. Through market understanding, highlighting specific objectives, and clearly marking the points to communicate, consumers can be aided through their buying process. As such, E.K. Strong’s AIDA four-step model discusses substantially the consumer’s buying decision process. Strong opine that for marketing communication tools such as advertising to function effectively it must undergo the (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action ) AIDA model four distinctive stages.
The AIDA Model
In the Attention stage, it is essential for the marketer to ensure that the customer notice the communication. In order to gain customer attention, the marketer should define the target customer. According to Shook (2003), an organization which does not define its target customers, it cannot differentiate itself from competition, hence their market share decline substantially. The marketer can only create product awareness once the target customer is defined. The attention stage concerns itself with; consumers noticing the marketing communication, and marketers creating awareness.
Under this phase, the consumer is drawn to conceive the message that is being communicated. The marketer is, therefore, required to provide the necessary information concerning service or product features, as well as creating a favorable impression. At this stage two things are extremely important, those are; delivering the information and message design. Information to be delivered should be clear and of quality. Anand & Shachar (2007) opine that quality of information matter rather than quantity, hence limited amount of information is effective. As such, an increase in information quality translates to consumer confidence and decision effectiveness. However, Romani (2006) maintain that incomplete information will cause customers to seclude themselves from the organization and its products. A communication design should draw the attention of the customer. Information presentation will determine whether the customer showed any interest to the message or not. It is necessary for marketers look at the graphic design, media relation of the brand name, and communication clarity.
After the first two stages of gaining attention and creating interest on the part of the consumer, the marketer can now create a desire. That is, make the consumer demand the service or product offered. The intention of this phase (Kotler, 2005) is two-fold, that is, achieve an ideal position in the mind of the customer, as well as create a buying intention. In addition, creation of realistic expectations is mandatory at this stage.
This is the last stage which requires the consumer to make a choice. The choice can be either to decide to use or buy the service or a product. The marketer is, therefore, required to make the sale. It is a consumer decision phase.
Normally, organization experience budget constraints and as a result, department compete for the available resources. As such, marketing managers should ensure proper utilization of the marketing resources among all the marketing communication tools, and to ensure consistency. When preparing a marketing communication budget, the following factors must be considered; heterogeneity and size of the target audience, nature of message, receptivity of audience, and amount of clutter.
It is indispensable for an organization to institute a mechanism for figuring out the effects of the efforts. Input analysis is vital in making future decision concerning spending levels, budget allocation across specific communication and media. The initial step is to state the objectives. Definition of objectives will aid in the measurement of results.
The main goal of marketing communication is to act as a motivator in the buying process of the consumer. A marketing communication vehicle is effective when; there is a clear identification of the target market, specific objectives are clearly stated, and when the message design is appealing to the consumer. Identification of the target market helps in mapping out potential consumers who will take time to move through the buying pprocess. This depends on the size, tangibility and complexity of the purchase. Simple tangible product consumers take less time to make a purchasing decision compared to service customers. This necessitates that target market identification and understanding is necessary. Obviously, communication message should be suitable to the media. In addition, market strategy and budget are necessary in analyzing the impact of the marketing communication efforts. Finally, an evaluation of the campaign effort results is necessary for future planning and allocation of resources towards marketing communication campaign.
Coca Cola soft drinks brand
The Coca Cola Company is the world leading carbonated and non-carbonated beverage manufacturing company with more than half of the global market control. Its soft drinks are the best selling in the world, with its principal drink (Coca-Cola) being the most valued and well-known brand in the world. The company manufactures more than five hundred beverages. However, its huge market share is working against the company. This is due to lack of accountability on the huge costs that are incurred in advertising. The company is the number six world advertiser in terms of spending. The company is currently facing stiff competition from its close competitor Pepsi. Pepsi Company is growing its market share everyday, as well as manufacturing competitive product brands.
In the UK market, the company has seen a decline in its sales in the last decade. As a result, it has necessitated a change in its marketing communication strategy. The UK sales represented 12% of the total Europe sales. The company strategy should focus on increasing impulse buy among its consumers. The objectives of the strategy include creating awareness, product differentiation, and increasing brand values awareness, as well by 20%. Given the long past of the brand, the plan focus on reposition the brand so as to appeal to the teenagers. The target audience of the brands includes women, men and the youths. To target the youths, the company is using art sponsorship and celebrities. This is a pull strategy since it is a means of clarifying the brand name and corporate status. For the male audience, the company has focus on sports sponsorship. During the events, the company will intensify its advertising campaign using burst strategy such as banners. To target large audience, TV ads and cinema are preferred.
The company uses marketing communication mix to enhance its performance through building customer relationships and communicating customer value. The company uses the following marketing communication mix to achieve its performance objectives; television advertisement, magazines, outdoor media, internet, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion. These elements of marketing communication increase sales significantly, hence increasing profitability. Coca Cola Company is ranked as the world’s top in progress and performance based on the number of total rewards. Corporate communication is used to target non-consumer stakeholders through counsel and advice offered by the top executive in relation to the organizations image and reputation. As such, Kitchen and Schultz (2003) enumerated activities such as lobbying, advertising, corporate sponsorship, and financial relations as used in corporate communication to target non-consumer stakeholders.
Application of the model to analysis of Coca Cola soft drinks brand
Proper targeting and product positioning is a recipe for business success. They are the basic reasons as to why Coca Cola Company carries out market segmentation. Companies’ selective choice of target markets is linked to its pursuit of success and comparative advantage. Kotler (2005) distinguish between target audience and target market with the term audience being of the essence in marketing communication. Audiences are those that have influence over decisions to purchase, but they cannot buy the product themselves, for instance, architects, design engineers, operation managers and project managers. This is a scheme that Coca Cola Company employs in order to guide sales and marketing promotion, as well as in categorizing business and customers so as to facilitate tactical and strategic decision-making.
New technology has lead to a reduction in physical touch and personal conduct between clients and customers through internet purchase. In practice, and according to Berry (2005), Coca Cola Company can use a relationship-marketing communication campaign to overcome and counter the intangible nature of their customer purchase behavior. However, Ricard & Perrin (2009) and as per the company over capitalization on marketing orientations concerning the relationship with certain customers is often inefficient and costly. Berry (2005), held the view that customers that act in response will put in, to the fortification of the financial performance and competitive position of beverage industries due to high customer retention rates.
The top management of Coca Cola Company should understand the immense role that marketing communication campaigns play in their day-to -day business operations. This will enable them build up marketing communication (promotion) campaigns that are effective for their products and services. The following recommendations can be drawn based on the findings of this research. There is a call for Coca Cola Company services and products that are integrated. This strategy will have immense contribution to media ads efforts done by the company in relation to their marketing orientations. It will also facilitate an easier and quick buying process of customers.
Coca Cola Company can also recognize effective marketing promotion strategy, if they regularly conduct an on-the-job training for their employees. The company staff should be encouraged to attend training and retraining on regular and continuous basis. This will ensure that they acquire up to date knowledge and skills hence guaranteeing successful implementation of media ads marketing strategy. The staff will gain skills and knowledge on marketing environment analysis as well as media ads marketing strategy.
This research has set out to explore the need for a marketing communication campaign on performance of Coca Cola soft drinks brand. The findings of the research point to that there is a direct and positive relationship between integrated marketing communication campaign implementation and performance. In addition, strategic marketing media ads in relation to Coca Cola Company services and products entails the process of looking into the current and future marketing environment, originating organizational goals and objectives, creating, implementing as well as controlling decisions geared at the accomplishment of objectives. The study leads to the conclusion that marketing communication campaign implementation has a direct and positive relationship with the performance of the company, hence guaranteeing its survival. Therefore, the top management is encouraged to practice the use of integrated marketing communication in their marketing orientations with rigor. This will facilitate the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage to ensure that their existence in the business environment is guaranteed.