Integrated Marketing Communication the Most Important Factor

Integrated Marketing Communication

The most important factor that must be taken into consideration when developing the promotional strategy for a product or service consists in the fact that consumers do not view and recognize the elements and messages of the campaign in the same manner as marketers do. Professionals know what to expect from such a campaign, but this does not necessarily mean that consumers targeted by the campaign have the ability to address the messages in case as they were designed to be understood.

When developing an integrated marketing communication plan for a product that targets both adults and children it is important to begin with establishing the differences between the characteristics that affect the buying and the consumption behavior of these two categories of public.

Although adults make the actual purchase of the cereal in case, children are usually the ones that decide what type and brand of cereals they want. And their decisions are not based on information, knowledge regarding the benefits of the product in case.

In an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Story and French (2004) have noted that children are particularly targeted by marketers in the food industry.

This is because they're considered to be an important market force. Also, they represent a category with great purchasing influence, and also as future adult buyers. Food companies focus on developing brand loyalty in children beginning with the moment when they are toddlers, in order to develop and to increase the power of influence over this category of consumers (Story & French 2004).

In the food industry, marketers use a combination of techniques and channels intended to develop a need for the product in case, to raise the interest of children, and then to attract them into actually buying the product. Such marketing channels include television advertising, in-school marketing, product placements, different clubs for kids, online advertising, presentation of brand logos, and promotions directed at children, as Story and French have explained in their article (2004).

Some of these marketing channels are similar in the case of IMC plans for cereals directed at adult customers. For example, the most frequently used marketing channel is represented by television advertising. This is the easiest and fastest way to introduce the product to the consumer. But this does not suffice for developing a need for the product in case.

Kellogg's does not seem to agree with the theory introduced by Story and French (2004). Their IMC strategy is mainly based on promotions. Information on these promotions can be found online, on the company's official website.

However, only one of the company's promotions address to children, while the others address to the adult category of consumers. The promotion for children is called "Kellogg's Breakfast Buddies" and represents and initiative developed by the company for the community it addresses, and focuses on providing the opportunity of a healthy breakfast for children (Kellogg's, 2010). Basically, through this initiative, Kellogg's cereals division donates products and provides information on breakfast and its importance.

The promotions addressed to adults mainly focus on women, who are probably the most frequent cereal buyers, or the consumers that usually make the decision regarding the brand that will be purchased. For example, the "Take the Special K. Jeans Challenge" promotion provides an eating and exercise plan for registered users, and tips and advice regarding jeans shopping.

The company also offers discount vouchers for consumers that want to buy jeans in certain stores.

Developing the need for cereals in adults is a complex strategy that is implemented on medium term and on long-term in order to produce the expected results. Cereal consumption is more and more associated with a healthy eating habit and with a healthier lifestyle. This is why all cereal producers focus on producing numerous types of cereals, each of them being associated with different benefits for the consumers.

People oriented towards such a lifestyle spend more time in gyms. This is a good place for the producer to advertise its cereals. Gym advertising for this product in the case of adult consumers is similar to in-school marketing for children.

Advertising on the Internet is more efficient in the case of adults. This is because they spend more time on the Internet than children do. Another marketing channel that can be successfully addressed by marketers in order to promote cereals is represented by magazines. Women tend to be more interested in the selection and purchase process regarding cereals. Therefore, it is useful to promote cereals in women's magazines and in magazines that focus on health.

As mentioned above, food companies, including cereals producers, focus on building brand awareness, brand recognition, and brand loyalty among their existing and potential consumers. However, brand loyalty is manifested in different manners in adults and children. Also, there are differences between women and men regarding brand loyalty towards certain categories of products.

For example, regarding cereals, women may tend to experience several brands of cereals, or several types of cereals, as they may be more willing to try new types of cereals introduced on the market, which provide new benefits for the consumers.

Men's approach to cereals may be different. They may be more loyal to one or two brands of cereals that they have been buying since they were kids, and may not be that willing to switch brands, or they may not be that curious to try new types of cereals, no matter what benefits they may provide.

As a consequence, men and women should be differently approached by marketing campaigns where cereals are concerned. In other words, marketing campaigns that target men should focus more on the brand in case, and not so much on specific products of that brand. The company in case should exploit their loyalty towards the brand, and provide them a sense of stability by emphasizing traditional types of cereals of that brand, rather than new ones.

Marketing campaigns that target women should do just the opposite. They should focus more on the new types of cereals produced by the company, on their benefits, and on the competitive advantage that differentiates that product from others.

As mentioned above, children's brand loyalty towards a brand manifests differently. An interesting theory of brand loyalty and its multidimensionality was developed by Sheth and Park (1974). In their opinion, brand loyalty is consisted of three dimensions: the emotive tendency, the evaluative tendency, and the behavioral tendency towards the brand. Based on this multidimensional approach, there are several types of brand loyalty: behavioral, behavioral-evaluative, behavioral-emotive, behavioral-evaluative-emotive, evaluative, evaluative-emotive, and emotive brand loyalty (Sheth & Park 1974).

The behavioral-emotive type of brand loyalty is mostly common in children. In this case, they manifest affective responses to a specific brand of cereals. Their attitude towards the brand in case is mainly based on distinctive attributes of the brand, like color, size, smell, design, image, and other attributes that do not reflect the utility of the brand, but are attractive to the consumer, in this case to children.

In addition to this, a behavioral-emotive type of brand loyalty can be developed by the buyer, which is not necessarily the consumer of the product, in this case such a type of brand loyalty can be developed by parents that buy a certain brand of cereals because their children like it. Therefore, the marketing campaign must take these aspects into consideration.

There are several aspects that are expected to be delivered by the integrated marketing communications strategy. These aspects include: the ability to deliver a personal message, the ability to reach a large audience, the level of interaction, the credibility that must be replied by the targeted public, the costs, and others (Kitchen & De Pelsmacker, 2004).

In the case of cereals, the same marketing tool can develop different responses in children compared to adults. For example, advertising has a low ability to reach each consumer and deliver a personal message. But the advantage of advertising is that it is able to reach a large audience. Commercials are more effective on children, rather than on adults, who do not allow themselves to take for granted these commercials and the products they advertise. In other words, credibility developed by this marketing channel is higher in the case of children.

An integrated marketing communications strategy for cereals that also addresses direct marketing would be effective in the case of both children and adults. This is because this marketing channel is able to deliver a personal message to the targeted audience. One of the main problems that have serious negative impact on the potential results expected from an IMC campaign is represented by the confusion of messages in the consumers' minds, which stops them from taking action as a consequence of these messages.

Therefore, it is recommended that an IMC strategy for cereals focuses on direct marketing, due to its advantages. Direct marketing creates the impression that each consumer is differentiated from others, and that consumers are not treated as a homogenous…