Quiz 15: Retail Communication Mix


In a competitive marketplace with numerous offerings, brands are crucial for identifying, differentiating, and recognizing individual offerings or retailers.  For the consumers as well as retailers, brands represent evaluations, experiences and meanings associated with a product's consumption or retail mix. Brands convey information to consumers about the nature of the shopping experience - the retailer's mix - they will encounter when patronizing a retailer.  Consumers can invoke their past evaluations and experiences as well as what they perceive the brand to represent in terms of quality, etc.  These affect consumers' confidence in their decisions to buy merchandise from a retailer.  Moreover, given the quality assurance and other signals associated with the brand, consumers' can feel more satisfied with the merchandise and service they buy. For retailers, brand image or brand equity helps affecting consumer decision-making processes and helps them motivate consumers to make repeat visits and purchases.  Retailers could leverage their brand image to create emotional ties between consumers and brands and thus, build brand loyalty.  Strong brand names help retailers differentiate their offerings from competition and also help them charge higher prices, while lowering the marketing costs associated with promotion and selling.  Strong brand image helps retailers increase their margins and reduce their reliance on price promotions to attract consumers.  Moreover, once a brand reputation is established, retailers can successfully introduce new retail concepts with limited marketing effort.

Integrated marketing communications is the strategic integration of multiple communication methods to form a comprehensive, consistent message. An example of how advertising, personal selling, and promotion complement each other is Lane Bryant's integrated approach to target the African American market. The focus of the program was a five-city mall tour coordinated by Essence magazine. Radio and TV ads were used to inform customers about the tour and the special mall event. Prior to the arrival of the tour, direct mail announcements were sent to consumers in the city announcing the mall event and the presenting Lane Bryant's offering for African American customers. Ads with discount coupons placed in the Essence issues distributed during the tour offered additional encouragement to visit Lane. The CRM program helps the retailer's communications programs by providing detailed data about the retailer's target market(s). The CRM data can illustrate demographic data, lifestyle information like hobbies and activities, and information about shopping behaviors: how often they shop, which channel they use, merchandise brand and type preferences, etc. All of these details can be used to better develop promotional messages through the various communication channels to reach the retailer's target market(s) with messages that will help to cement the retailer/customer relationship. The CRM data will also show which customers are responsive to various types of sales promotions like contests and special events, and which customers are not likely to be enticed by those types of activities.

Direct marketing refers to the type of marketing wherein the business products or services are directly sold to the customers or to the public. In this, the product or service manufacturer directly sell its offering through mail or telephone instead of using retailers to sell those offerings. From the customer's perspective, the positive aspects of direct marketing can be described by stating that new customers can be attracted towards the firm's products with the use of direct marketing which builds better relationships with them. The viability of the product and its appeal for the customers gets tested when products are directly marketed to the customers. Direct marketing helps customers to get aware of the deep content and characteristics of products which increases the selling of the product and the firm's sales. On the other hand, the negative aspects of direct marketing from the customer's perspectives can be described by stating that direct marketing is taken as a disturbance and intrusion by some customers which makes them annoyed towards the direct marketer. Sometimes, people do not find selling platforms of emails and telephone appropriate and it irritates them which creates a negative brand image of the direct marketer.