Impact Of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) On Brand Building
This study was informed by the necessity of research in the impact of integrated marketing communication on brand building. A study of the transition of Zain to Airtel. The theory that was used during this research is the learning theory which postulates that exposure of certain models or message to a particular audience which was applied to this study. It was also observed that the audiences of Airtel were able to imitate or act in accordance to the message in which they are exposed to Airtel. Survey method was used in this study. Three hundred and ninety nine questionnaires were also administered to respondents during this research. The data collected were analyzed using the chi-square analysis. Research hypotheses findings reveal that integrated marketing communication is an effective tool for brand building even during brand transition.
The respondents from the sample population size were randomly selected audience in which it has created a platform for recommendations to be made. Based on the findings in this research, the researcher recommends that IMC messages should be carefully put together, in terms of central theme, media planning and usage. Also, recommended that an integrated marketing communications should be applied in brand building, a combination of Advertising, Public relation, direct marketing, event sponsorship, sales promotion and personal selling is required in brand building.
1.1. Background of the Study
A critical part of brand building is communication and the most effective and productive way of managing this effort is through a concept called Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC).
Due to societal changes over the past fifty years, today’s organizations are being forced to adjust their brand/marketing strategies. Not surprisingly, many have turned to integrated marketing communications (IMC). Why? Old assumptions about the role of advertising promotion and media have fallen by the way side because change remains the only constant thing in the world. Thoughts about how branding and promotion should be organized have been upside-down. And organizations, marketing executives and the media are scrambling to accommodate their new roles, ever since, integrated marketing communication (IMC) has been part of business.
Clow & Baack (2004) define IMC as “the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues and sources within a company into a seamless programme that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost”.
In addition, Arens (2004) defines integrated marketing communications (IMC) as: The process of building and reinforcing mutually profitable relationship with employees, customers, other stakeholders, and the general public by developing and coordinating a strategic communications programme that enables them to make constructive contact with the company/brand through a variety of media or other contacts…
From the above definitions, it can be deduced that IMC unifies all communication effort from an organization to produce an identifiable source (brand) in the minds of its audience while some observers think that so long as a company is involved in a variety of promotional activities (e.g., advertising sponsorships, public relations etc), it is practicing IMC. But this is not the case using IMC means looking at the whole where there were once only parts. If calls for re-aligning communications and seeing constant flow of information from a single and identifiable source. An effective IMC process comprises the following steps:
- Identify the target audiences: This requires a well throughout market segmentation and targeting process which may includes secondary and/or primary market research.
- Determine the communication objectives: This can range from generating brand awareness to countering the competition.
- Design the message content: This is an absolutely critical component. Effective messages can make or break a promotional effort.
- Select the means for communications, whether advertising, public relations, direct marketing sponsorship etc.
- Define the mix of media, budget and priorities
- Measure the effectiveness of the efforts.
IMC and Brand Building
Based on the foregoing, the brand building aspects are the focus of this study. As consumers are bombarded with a variety of products to meet the same need, branding provides a way for consumers to reduce their decision making to consider only those products that they feel are relevant to them or that have met their needs acceptably in the past.
There is no question that a strong brand is an important corporate asset. Spaeth (1993) asserts that “Brand equity cannot be measured in Naira and kobo but rather, it is a direct result of how consumers value a brand based on their experiences and perceptions”. It is these experiences and perceptions that permit the brand to earn greater volume or margins than it could without the brand name. The most basic function of integrated marketing communication (IMC) is to identify brands, their sources and products, and differentiates them from others. For example, Airtel and Glo may offer the same function as a GSM service provider with similar services to a consumer. Integrated marketing communication (IMC), through sales promotion, appeal and logo (branding) differentiates one product from the other. Therefore, it can be argued that IMC helps create brand awareness and brand loyalty.
Integrated marketing communication encourages brand loyalty and helps nurture good customer/stakeholder relationship with brands Airtel formally Zain was not the first GSM operator in Nigeria. Through integrated marketing communication, it encouraged and created awareness to its customers about its transition from Zain international to Airtel. This enabled it to retain and add considerably to its market share in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) builds brand value, preference and loyalty. Airtel, through its exciting advertisements, intuitive sales promotion and public relations have created strong brand awareness in affirming its transition from Zain to Airtel. When people think of GSM in Nigeria today, Airtel will likely come to mind. It has top-of-mind awareness. It is noted worthy that other factor may have contributed to this brands acceptance despite its recent transition. For instance, the fact that it’s one of the fastest growing networks in Africa (especially in Nigeria), and its unalloyed customer relationship and compensation through various promotions and event sponsorship.
A brand is a distinguishing name or symbol designed or identify a product’s origin differentiate from others or competitors and protest its customers against imitation. Speath (1993) went on to define branding as “a process of creating an association between symbol, object emotion, perception and a product/company with the goal of deriving loyalty and creating differentiation”.
Branding builds emotional responses thus, when a brand is thought of, it evokes certain emotions. For example, in the auto-mobile, industry, it can be argued that Ferrari, Mercedes, Benz and Lexus brand evokes prestige in the minds of the users and on the lookers.
Consumers are bombarded with variety of products and brands meeting the same need or functions. Branding provides a way for consumers to reduce their decisions to products or services they is relevant or have met their need before.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
With increased competition and saturation in the market, coupled with the growth of other promotional channels such as event sponsorship and advertising, the budget share of other relevant tools of integrated marketing communication (IMC) has continued to dwindle.
In a recession, some tools of integrated marketing communication (IMC) are the first to feel the burn. Most financial managers believe that integrated marketing communication (IMC) activities cannot be measured in profits; therefore, it is a waste.
Also, some critics believe that integrated marketing communication is not effective in brand building. Ries and Ries (2002) asserts that “advertising (which is one of the tools of IMC) may not be effective in brand building they posit that it lacks credibility to build brands”.
This study therefore, intends to evaluate the impact of integrated marketing communication in the branding of Airtel and to measure the effectiveness of that campaign.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
The objective of this is to assess how integrated marketing communication has been effective in branding and transition of Zain to Airtel. The specific objectives are:
- To explore how much awareness Airte, has been able to create due to integrated marketing communication (IMC).
- To examine the public’s perception of the Airtel brand.
- To explain in what ways, has integrated marketing communication (IMC) been able to impact on people’s attitude towards Airtel.
1.4. Significance of the Study
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is one of the areas in mass communication in Nigeria. The findings from this study can provide an example of the role played by integrated marketing communication (IMC) in creating brand awareness and identify. It can also add to the literature in the area of integrated marketing communication (IMC) effectiveness in building brands.
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is a major activity in an economic system. This research provides a feedback through which integrated marketing communication (IMC) organization and clients can assess IMC effectiveness.
1.5. Research Questions
In conducting this research, the following research questions will enable us provide meaningful answers to the impact of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) on brand building.
- Is integrated marketing communication (IMC) effective in creating brand awareness of Airtel?
- Can a consumer’s exposure to integrated marketing communication (IMC) bring about brand preference?
- Can integrated marketing communication (IMC) help retain brand loyalty despite brand transition?
1.6. Research Hypotheses
- H1: Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is effective in creating brand awareness of Airtel?
H0: Integrated marketing communication (IMC) cannot be effective in creating brand awareness of Airtel?
- H2: A consumer’s exposure to integrated marketing communication (IMC) can bring about brand preference
H0: A consumer’s exposure to integrated marketing communication IIMC) cannot bring about brand preference?
- H3: Integrated marketing communication (IMC) can help brand loyalty despite brand transition?
H0: Integrated marketing communication (IMC) cannot help retain brand loyalty despite brand transition?
1.7. Scope of the Study
This research will be restricted to Onitsha, Nnewi and Ihiala in Anambra State, Nigeria. Emphasis is on testing consumer brand awareness and perception as a result of exposure to integrated marketing communication from Airtel formally Zain especially during its brand transition.
1.8. Limitation of the Study
As the researcher carries out this study as a research there are some vital things which may tend to limit the researcher on the study some of which are:
Time is a factor which limits an individual to do what you want. The researcher has a lot to carry on with little time.
During the course of this study, the researcher tends to spend money more than he bargained for at the end of the day.
At times, the information being disclosed to the researcher is little or not sufficient-enough and the researcher is to strive and source for information from all directions.
1.9. Definition of Terms (Operational)
The impact of this study refers to any of the consequence of integrated marketing communication IMC on brand building whether intended or not and its effectiveness in terms of its capacity to achieve given objectives, weather this can be attracting larger audience or influencing opinion and behavior
In this study, integrated marketing communication IMC was taken to mean a management concept that is designed or fashioned to make all aspect of marketing communication such as advertising, sale promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than allowing each to work on its own.
In this study brand building was taken to mean a process of convincing your prospective customers to see you as the only provider of solution to their problem through a consistent and effective communication effort.
Here transition means the period within which Zain changed to Airtel.
Summary, Conclusion And Recommendation
This chapter gives a summary drawn from the findings to this work, draws conclusions from them, and offers recommendations.
This research is aimed at evaluating the impact of integrated marketing communication on brand building. The case study is Airtel, a Global system for mobile communication (GSM) Company.
Findings from this research suggest that IMC provides knowledge about products. Majority of the respondents agreed that they knew about Airtel through its various IMC programmes to test Airtel brand awareness, respondents never asked questions about the Airtel brand from their various responses, it can be deduced that Airtel has brand awareness.
It is also possible to say that through advertising and other IMC tools influences brand perception, consumer’s actual experiences may have greater influences on brand perception, as the researcher’s interaction with respondents revealed that their contract and experience with the service of Airtel helped in influencing their perception of the brand. Hence, the research tends to show that contrary to Kim B. Rotzol et al., (1976) as cited in Belch and Belch (2004) there is great perceptional defense against IMC messages, especially now that consumers are getting more informed. Findings tend to show that exposure to IMC messages exert an influence on the consumer. Also, IMC gives a brand positive image.
Findings show that prospects tend to transfer their likeness for an IMC campaign to the products and services offered by a brand. It is possible to say that consumer may be willing to pay less for a good product, than pay high of a bad product. Majority agree that Airtel is less expensive but, when asked which network, they considered better, a reasonable size of the sample population chose Airtel.
On the whole, this research shows that integrated marketing communication has positive influence on prospects and builds brands by creating awareness through its various programmes. IMC tends to influence perception of brand, but this influence is not absolute. However, it should be noted that the ultimate impact on brand can have on prospects will be delivery on promises made.
Based on the findings reported above, the researcher concludes that integrated marketing communication (IMC) has an impact in brand building even during or after transition. Contrary to what critics say, IMC is not a waste.
Based on the findings in this research, the researcher recommends that IMC should be used by organizations that want to build strong brands.
- In using IMC, the client should bear in mind the easiest way to build a brand and to satisfy the customers especially on promises made.
- Good IMC cannot sell bad product, it can only try, and it is left to the product to “sell
- Although this research shows that a lot of respondents consider direct marketing as ineffective in brand building, but the researcher found that it was due to ignorance from the respondents as they did not understand that tools like e-mail, text messages, post mail etc are termed as direct marketing when sent as a mass with commercial content.
- It is advisable that advertisers in client should roll out an awareness campaign to enlighten their audience about direct marketing.
- For IMC to be effective, the client should send a strong, viable and consistent message. Most of all, it should be one central idea.
- IMC messages should be carefully put together, in terms of central theme, media planning and usage.
- A good IMC message through the right medium is probably the first step in brand building.
- Media selection is very important because IMC in the wrong medium or to the wrong audience could be disastrous; amounting to waste in resources or even profit, decline.
In the words of mar-shall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”.
- A consistent and planned budget for spending on IMC is also required to build brands. Spending erratically or unpredictably may actually destroy the brand.
Finally, it is recommended that an integrated marketing communications should be applied in brand building. In other words, a combination of advertising, public relation, direct marketing, event sponsorship, sales promotion and personal selling is required in brand building.
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