Integrated Marketing Communications And Consumers Patronage Of Nigerian Beverage Products
The need for an organization to properly coordinate its marketing communications strategies to achieve a clear, consistent and competitive message about itself and its product has become issue of concern to every result driven firm. The study is aimed at examining the impact of integrated marketing communication on consumers’ patronage of Nigerian beverage products. The objectives of this research among others are to (i) establish the level of understanding and the use of IMC by Nigerian beverage communications institutions. (ii) Find out whether the use of IMC can bring about profitable long term customer relationship (iii) determine if optimal use of IMC can make a product compete effectively thereby recording a good consumers patronage, and (iv) ascertain whether proper implementation of IMC programmes can help reduce a firm’ cost of marketing communications. This research adopted a survey method with four hypotheses and structured questionnaires distributed among sampled respondents, which include those from marketing communication organizations, beverage producers and consumers of the products in the South Western part of Nigeria. To ensure reliability of this instrument, a test-retest was carried out within one and half month interval. The result yielded 0.88and Cronbach alpha of 0.76.The face and content validity of this instrument were ensured. The divergent validity of -0.62 and convergent validity of 0.82were revealed. In analyzing the data, the researcher used suitable test statistics, correlation and Kruskal Wallis one-way analysis where appropriate. Findings show that respondents appreciate the inherent benefits that the use of IMC will bring over its non-use (the traditional approach). Such benefits according to findings include cost savings; effective and efficient marketing communication messages, sustained long term client-customer relationships, better consumer patronage, amongst others. Mere implementation of different combination of marketing communication tools together cannot guarantee better results, it is the strategic coordination of marketing communication tools and the media that will facilitate efficient results and help the company influence its perceived brand value in the eyes of its esteemed customers and other stakeholders.
Keywords: Integrated, Marketing, Communications, Consumers, Patronage, Beverage.
The need for an organization to properly coordinate its marketing communications strategies in order to deliver a clear, consistent, credible and competitive message about itself and its product has become a challenge today for every result oriented firm. Effective marketing communications should therefore be an integral part of every efficient and result driven organization. How innovative and creative marketing communications practitioners are inappropriately combining, coordinating and efficiently using marketing communication tools will have great impact on their companies’ products/services and by extension, on such products’ market share. This again could pose serious challenge to competing companies across markets in the country.
The Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) approach believes that a company must leave no chance for error, no patience for miscommunication, and no time for confusion. (Picton and Broderick, 2005). The IMC approach placed much premium on the consistency of messages, that by this, it posits that communications effort of a company through its different products must project a unified voice. Business (companies) must be able to deliver the right message in the right medium to elicit the right results. (Schultz and Kitchen, 1997). A simple argument for IMC is that there are financial, competitive and effective benefits to be achieved through the synergy afforded by the process of integration (Peltier and Schult, 2003; Smith, 2002; Shultz & Kitchen, 2000; Thomas, 2001; Picton and Hartley, 1998). Rather than being considered as a revolution in marketing thought, IMC is gradually emerging as a natural evolution in marketing communications brought about by drastic changes in at least three main areas, which are: (i). The market place; (ii). The media and communications; (iii). The consumers. These changes have been driven primarily by advancement in information technology; and have caused a major shift from the mass marketing, product centred theories of marketing popularized in the 1950s and 1960s to the more customer-centered, database-driven interactive and measurable approaches of integrated communications, (Schultz, 2003).
The development of IMC can be traced to the early 1980s when many Americans advertising agencies started to feel threatened by their clients’ attempt to save money through direct media buying and patronage and creative boutique operations. Added to these forces were the inclinations of many advertisers to shift money from advertising to more immediate and effective aspect of marketing. These developments came to a climax towards the early part of 1990s when advertising agencies started to offer more than their traditional functions of just producing and placing advertising in the media. The advertising agencies then saw that their survival in the turbulent decade of the 1980s depended on providing integrated strategies. The question one might ask here is “were advertising agencies not adding value to their clients’ programmes before IMC?” Of course, they were but not in ‘an integrated sense’. In this respect, Kliatchko (2005) opined that value added services need not start and end in only advertising messages and strategies. But now, in an expanded view of advertising, advertising agencies must positively evolve specific promotional mix to provide clarity, consistency and maximum communication impact.
In a similar vein, a number of scholars observed that coordination is a powerful element of an integrated communication strategy. And that many companies might find integration difficult to adopt due or owing to tough battles on how to allocate resources and reluctance to invest in the needed database. They also observed that different departments were responsible for different elements in the communication strategy (i.e. an advertising department; direct mail department; and a trade show or an event management department). In many of these cases, they are usually reluctant to give-up control over their respective area and fight each other for a piece of the marketing budget. The result will be that the communication strategy will be fragmented rather than integrated. What happens when interactions with customers are fragmented? Belch and Belch (2004) opined that if customers are fragmented then, they would get annoyed because different parts of the company don’t know what others are saying. Consumers might feel that they are talking to many different companies instead of one, which is not the way to build relationship.
In the opinion of Akande, (2001) he raised the concern that marketing has moved from customer acquisition (winning new customers) through ‘customer relations’ (keeping customers for life) towards customers’ deselection (dumping unprofitable customers while selectively seeking and keeping the profitable ones). He listed other forms of marketing communication strategies which are media; proliferation, audience fragmentation, advancement of information technology and the internet, consumer empowerment, increased advertising, cluster, shift in channel power and the desire for more accountability. All these underpin the driving forces leading toward integrated marketing communications.
In their work on marketing communications, Duncan and Everett (1993) asserted that IMC is both a concept and a process. The IMC perspective can be interpreted as “meaningful integrative” of “Holistic thinking” i.e. looking at marketing communication in a way by which various marketing communication tools are strategically employed in a complementary fashion after a careful analysis of customer needs and review of market situation. Schultz and Kitchen (2002) equally viewed integrated marketing communication (IMC) as a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate coordinated measurable persuasive brand communication programmes over time with consumers, prospects and other targeted relevant external and internal audience.
Duncan (2002), in his contribution to the literature on evolution of IMC believed that the above definition of IMC by Schultz and Kitchen, forecasted the trend of the development of IMC in the future. He therefore noted that this new definition indicates that IMC has moved from (or has the potentiality to move from) a “marketing planning process” to a “strategic business process”. Schimp (2000) summarized five facts of IMC as: (i). Aims to affect behaviour
(ii). Starts with customers or prospects
(iii). Uses any and all forms of contents
(iv). Achieves synergy and
(v). Builds relationships.
Low (2000) opined that integrated marketing is simply a step further from IMC or the highest stage of IMC by focusing on conveying unified messages to customers via the correct blending of the promotional mix.
In the Nigerian marketing environment today, many organizations have not appreciated the importance of the strategic blending of the promotional mix elements so as to produce cohesive, consistent, clear, precise and efficient messages. The common explanation is that through IMC, a firm or a manager can attain synergy between all the firm’s marketing communications activities and decisions. This synergy in turn improves performance.
With the pace at which globalization is moving, there is need for Nigerian Advertising Agencies to wake-up to a new reality in the marketing world. Clients, world-over, now demand integrated solutions rather than thinking in the old-style of above or below the line statement. Client needs to create a sustainable competitive advantage to meet up with the demands. This cannot be done with advertising alone with a seamless marketing communication programme. Many clients (advertisers) are now asking themselves questions such as “How do I allocate the marketing budget over a variety of promotional tools”?. Here, many rely on the professional advice from advertising agencies. Today some advertising agencies are trying to become marketing consultants, independent media purchasers and multi-dimensional communication practitioner-(Kallmeyer and Absatt, 2001). The words of these scholars revealed the need for these advertising agencies to become total marketing oriented professionals rather than just advertising driven in order to convince clients that they can add value to their marketing efforts.
The Growing Importance of IMC: The move towards integrated marketing communications is one of the most significant marketing developments that occurred during the 1990s and this approach is growing daily as this new millennium continues to advance. Belch and Belch (2004) believed that the IMC approach to marketing communication planning and strategy is being adopted by both large and small companies and has become popular among firms marketing consumer products and services as well as business-to-business marketers. Some of the reasons why marketers are adopting the IMC approach according to Belch and Belch, (2004) are:
“The understanding that the strategic integration of the various communication functions rather than having them operate autonomously would bring many added benefits to clients and customers. Advocates of IMC believe that it will help company maximize returns on their investments. The move towards IMC reflects an adaptation by marketers to a changing environment with respect to consumer’s technology and the media. Today many consumers are tired of being bombarded with different sales messages.”
These factors according to Belch and Belch, (2004) are capable of promoting marketers towards the development of alternative ways to communicate with target audience.
Another reason responsible for the growth of IMC according to Belch and Belch (2004) is the growth and development of database marketing. Many companies are building database containing customers’ name, geographic, demographic and psychographic profiles; purchase patterns; media preferences etc. Advocates of this approach believed that database marketing is critical to the development of effective use of IMC. A shift of marketing dollars from media advertising to other forms of promotions, particularly consumer-and trade-oriented sales promotions. Many marketers are also of the opinion that traditional media advertising has become too expensive and not cost effective (Thomas, 2001).
Finally, there is demand for greater accountability from advertising agencies and changes in the way agencies are compensated. Many companies are moving towards incentive-based system whereby compensation of their ad agencies is based, at least in part on objectives measures such as sales, market share and profitability. The rapid growth of the Internet services, which is changing the very nature of how companies do business and the interest with the consumer, could also be seen as a major reason for the growing importance of IMC in today contemporary marketing environments.
There are divergent of opinions in the effectiveness of integrated marketing communications in promoting consumers’ patronage of products. Some scholars belief on the traditional approach of using solely any of the promotional mix elements while others have strong belief in the synergy that the integration of the elements would create; (Reid, 2003;Copley, 2004) amongst others. The need for an organization to properly coordinate its marketing communications strategies in order to deliver a clear, consistent, credible and competitive message about itself and its products has become an issue of concern, which every focus driven and result oriented firm wishes to overcome today. Similarly, the marketing environment is becoming more highly competitive, and the once glamorous world of advertising is loosing out to integrated marketing communications (IMC) under which managers can combine approaches and allow brands to speak with a single voice across all media formats.
Swan and William, (2004) argued that a major organizational problem that most companies face is that the various components of the promotional mix are often seen as the responsibility of different departments or agencies. Companies and agencies have different perceptions as to the uses and benefits of integration of marketing communication elements (Nowak & Phelps, 2004; Belch and Belch, 2004). Consequently, many organization executives are craving for ways of minimizing cost of marketing communications with better results. And are not sure of the synergy effects, of the use of IMC. (Picton & Hartley, 1998; Copley, 2004; Raid, 2003; Fill, 2006). One of the trends in recent time according to Pelsmacker, Geuens and Bergh (2004) is the increasing need by companies to build customer relationship in order to sustain brand loyalty.
Many Nigerian beverage producers are using different promotional mixes without due consideration for the cost and appropriateness of the stage of product in its life cycle (Thomas, 2001; Fadipe, 2004), etc. They are often skeptical as to how to properly coordinate the communication mix at different stages of a product life (Thomas, 2001). Many beverage producers have not fully appreciated the fact that communicating effectively with customers and other stakeholders involves not only a mix of the traditional tools but rather an efficient coordination through the adoption of the IMC approach. Many Nigerian Beverage producers are constantly looking for how to catch and retain the youth especially school children (catch them young syndrome) and build strong brand loyalty with these school age children (Achumba 2000; Thomas 2001). Swan 2004 argued that companies face the challenge in identifying what could efficiently promote or hinder IMC implementation as various departments are faced with bulk passing of marketing communication responsibilities.
The need for Nigerian beverage producers to fully adopt the IMC approach is therefore borne out of the fact that there are financial, competitive and effective benefits to be achieved through the synergy afforded by the process of integration. (Pickton and Hartley, 1998). Despite the broadening of marketing into many facets of Nigerian economy today, and the sensitive position that marketing promotion occupies in the strategic management of a firm’s marketing communication efforts, no known attempt has been made, locally, to investigate empirically, the impact of the use of Integrated Marketing Communications on consumers patronage of beverage products in the Nigerian Food and Beverage Industry. Moreover, despite the huge amount of fund spent on Advertising and Information System in the same industry, no body seemed locally to be interested in evaluating the alternative comparison between traditional method of promotion and the new IMC method. This proposed research therefore, intends to fill that intellectual gap.
Many studies have been carried out on marketing communications or on marketing promotions generally. However, a few (if any) of these studies carried out locally have appreciated the effects of appropriate and efficient coordination as well as some of or all of the promotional tools on consumers’ patronage of goods and services.
The need for Nigerian beverage producers to fully adopt the IMC approach is borne out of the fact that there are financial, competitive and efficient benefits to be achieved through the synergy afforded by the process of integration (Pickton and Hartley, 1998).
The general purpose of this study is to examine the impact of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) on consumers’ patronage of Nigerian beverage products. The specific objectives of this research amongst others are to:
i. Establish the level of difference in perception of the effectiveness of IMC in improving customers’ patronage by staff of beverage producing companies, customers and marketing communications organizations.
ii Ascertain whether proper implementation of IMC programmes by an organization especially in the Nigerian Food and Beverages Industry can help reduce the cost of marketing communications, thereby having effects of minimizing the company’s cost of marketing communications.
iii Find out whether the use of IMC by clients (beverage producers) through their advertising agencies can bring about profitable long-term client customer relationships.
iv Determine whether the proper use of IMC at the different stages of the product life cycle could be a major factor in making the products (beverage products) to compete effectively in the market thereby recording more customer patronage for the product.
v Establish the level to which the use of IMC by Nigerian Beverage producers can influence parents of school children to continue to purchase these products thereby building strong brand loyalty for the products.
vi Determine what factors to enhance or promote the use of IMC by organizations as well as what factors could serve as barriers to the diffusion of the IMC concept into Nigerian Food and Beverages Industry.
This research will provide answers to the following questions;
i. Are there any significance differences in the perception of IMC by staff of beverage producing companies, marketing communication organizations and customers on the effectiveness of IMC in improving customers’ patronage?
ii. Will proper implementation of IMC programmes by an organization help in reducing the firm’s cost of marketing communications cost thereby having effects of increasing customer patronage through low priced products?
iii. Can the use of IMC bring about profitable long-term customer relationship between customers and management of Nigerian Beverage producers?
iv. Will the proper use of integrated marketing communication at the different stages of the product’s life cycle make the chosen samples to compete effectively in increasing consumer patronage of the products?
v. Can the use of IMC influence parents of school children to continue to purchase these beverages thereby building strong brand loyalty for the products?
vi. What factors can enhance the use of IMC by organizations and what factors could serve as hindrance to it usage?
The following hypothesis was formulated in the null form and tested with the aid of proper statistical tools and well-structured questionnaires that were effectively administered so as to achieve stated research objectives. The hypothesis is as follows:
H0: There is no significant difference among the respondents i.e. (staff of beverage producing companies, customers, and marketing communication organizations) on their perception on the effectiveness of IMC in promoting customers patronage.
The following hypotheses are stated in the research form
H1: The more an organization adopts integrated marketing communication principles, the less funds; it will spend on its marketing communication activities in the long run.
H1: The more an organization uses IMC principles the more profitable long-term client-customer relationships it will build.
H1: The more an organization uses IMC tools at the different stages of a product life cycle, the more customer patronage it will achieve for its products
Marketing communication has been used for several years as an umbrella term to refer to the various communication tools used by marketing. Every organization has at one time or the other constructively used the communications tools such as Advertising, sales promotion, public relations, personal selling, or even direct marketing. It is the strategic integration of these functional areas that makes IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications), a better approach to reaching consumers and other stakeholders. In the developed economies of the world, such as United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, etc. Integrated Marketing Communication has continued to make positive waves as the way ahead for marketing through its synergy of having a common and unified voice in the market place. With IMC in place, managers in these developed economies can combine approaches and allow a brand to speak with a common voice across all media formats. At every point of contact with the brand, consumers see the same message (Mark Ritson, 2005).
This research will be highly significant to producers of beverage products in many respects. It will assist them on how to send highly impactful messages to their esteemed target audience. It will also assist them on how to save cost of marketing communications in the long run. This will translate to minimization of cost of marketing communication. The outcome of the research will also benefit these producers on how to use marketing communications to build long-term client-customer relationships. The research will benefit consumers of beverage products, as the use of IMC will afford consumers with clear, credible and consistent messages. When consumers hear the same messages through advertising, sales promotion, and personal selling (sales force), they (consumers) will have strong faith in such messages and they are likely to do more of those thing which producers of products expect them to do.
Of fundamental significance of this research is to advertising agencies. The use of IMC will definitely help advertising agencies to achieve better results for their clients’ investments on marketing communications. The present global economic down-turn is affecting many companies. This has made many companies to look inward and find areas of minimizing cost of production. One area where many companies want to reduce cost is in the area of marketing communications (Advertising, Public relation, Sales promotions, etc). Therefore both advertising agencies and their esteemed clients will readily appreciate a research, which shows how a company can save cost. This research will also be of immerse importance to the academic sector especially scholars in the field of marketing and marketing communication in particular who want to know the effect that a better coordinated marketing communication tools will have on an organization marketing objectives, consumers patronage, sales growth and market share.
A number of factors are encouraging the use of integrated marketing communications today by firms/organization, which make the conduct of this research highly significant. One of such factors is lack of real growth in advertising expenditure. According to Picton and Broderick, (2005; 32), advertising is increasingly been questioned as the best or most appropriate form of communications to achieve certain promotional activities. It is the strategic integration of these functional areas that makes IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications), a better approach to reaching consumers and other stakeholders. Scholars such as Thomas, (2001) asserted the belief among some Advertising Agencies that a competitive edge and financial reward may be derived from offering services to clients when integration is in use.
Another major significance of this study is the increasing sophistication by clients in their use of marketing promotional activities, and in what many of them expect from those activities and how they should organize themselves and their advertising agencies to achieve the best results. Added to this is the increasing growth in the activities of media independent agencies. These media independents are gradually taking on the role of media purchase; and this has left advertising agencies seeking other forms of income generation. Increasing reliance has been placed on the charging of fees for services and more integrated services being offered. Greater marketing communications impact will be achieved if all the elements involved are integrated into a united whole by integrating the range of communication mix elements, so that they work in harmony or synergy with each other. Picton and Broderick, (2005) added that synergy is achieved when we bring together marketing communication elements in a mutually supportive and enhancing way so that the resulting whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Government at all levels (such as Federal, state and local) will find the results of this research highly useful. The use of integrated marketing communications will help government functionaries saddled with the responsibility of repackaging Nigeria as a special brand in the eyes of international community. Companies who wish to maximize returns on their investment, reduce cost of marketing communication will find this study highly useful.
In Nigeria however, scholars asserted that IMC has not been given due attention. Companies see either Advertising, public relations and sales promotion as the major promotional tool available to them and from which they could just pick any one depending on the situations. The result has often been instances of confusion in the market place when Advertising says a message and Sales Promotion comes later to say the contrary (Thomas 2001; and Achumba 2000). In a similar vein, it was documented that advocates of IMC approach are of the opinion that it is one of the easiest ways for a company to maximize the return on its investment in marketing and promotion. (Picton and Broderick, (2005); Schimp (2000).
Today, there is a growing decline in newspapers and magazine audience. Due to a number of factors such as economic reasons which tend to reduce the number of daily newspapers people buy per day; improved technological advancement which make many people to across news on Radios, Television, internet etc. Marketers are also facing the problem of consumers’ being less responsive to traditional advertising. Many consumers are turned-off by advertising and are tired of being bombarded with different sales messages. These factors if established may compel marketers towards development of alternative ways to communicate with their target audience; such as making their sales messages part of the popular culture. Marketers will therefore find the recommendations contained in this research as highly useful in giving out credible, consistent and clear messages to their target audience. This research therefore, intends to correct the trend, or fill that gap and show the strategic importance of the use of effective Integrated Marketing Communications in sending messages across to target audiences and the immense inherent benefits which Nigerian companies stand to gain by its usage.
The operationalization of the research variables are presented below:
The title of the research is “Integrated Marketing Communications and Consumers’ Patronage of Nigerian Beverage Products”.
Mathematically, Y = f(X)
where Y = dependent variables
X = Independent variables.
Constructing the above title into a model where Y = OCP and E = EIMC we have OCP = f(EIMC)
and Optimal Consumers’ Patronage of Beverage products (OCP) can be obtained from Effective Integrated Marketing Communications (EIMC).
Opening up the nature of OCP (dependent variables) into its constituent components, we have:
OCP or Y = y1, y2, y3, y4, y5, y6-yn.
Where; the above components can be presented as follows:
y1 = Level of customer satisfaction
y2 = Level of Consumer income
y3 = Nutritional value of the product.
y4 = Improved client-customer relationship which enhances brand loyalty.
y5 = Competitive prices resulting into more sales.
y6 = Value added to the product from packaging features.
y7 = Special events packages and incentives.
y8 = Catch-them-young programmes of the company.
Also from the independent variables f(EIMC), we have F(EIMC) = x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x6,.-xn.
where x1 = The blending of advertising messages.
x2 = Effective use of the sales promotion tools.
x3 = The strategic coordination of personal selling with other IMC tools.
x4 = Efficient use of public relations tools.
x5 = Effective use of direct and interactive marketing tools.
x6 = A function of the literate level of the society.
x7 = The competence and expertise of the Advertising Agencies being used.
x8 = Availability of funds to the company. (The beverage manufacturer).
x9 = Company promotional policies and company promotional objectives.
X10 = Availability of e-marketing facilities.
∴ Therefore, we can say OCP = f (EIMC)
That is, Optimal Consumer Patronage of Beverage Product (OCP) is a function of the effective use of Integrated Marketing Communications. Put succinctly, we are saying that consumers’ patronage of Beverage products depends on marketers’ effective use of the marketing communication mix elements.
The study focuses on the impact of Integrated Marketing Communications on consumers’ patronage of Nigeria beverage products. The study will be limited to marketers or producers of beverages, advertising agencies and consumers of beverage products. As mentioned in the sampling techniques because most of the Advertising Agencies are based in Lagos, majority of the marketing communications agencies that were sampled are based in Lagos with the exception of a few based in Port-Harcourt and Enugu. Again, because most Advertising Agencies usually have small number of staff and in order to get appropriate sample size about 42 Marketing Communication firms were sampled. This represents about 50 per cent of total number of registered agencies under the umbrella of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN).
The period under study covers 1998-2006 (8 years). The study under investigation is carefully
chosen to give credence to the subject matter under study. As regards distribution of questionnaire to consumer respondents, the distribution is restricted to South-west geo-political zone of Nigeria. The towns and states that were covered are already stated under the sample size determination in chapter three and justifications have been provided for the choice of these towns and states where questionnaires were administered.
The research comprises of five main chapters. Chapter one covers introduction, objective of the study, research questions, research hypothesis, and justification of the study, amongst others. Chapter two deals with a review of related literatures. Both the conceptual, theoretical, and empirical frameworks are embedded in this chapter. The third chapter comprises of methodology used, research instrument amongst others. The fourth chapter comprises of analysis and presentation of findings in a logical manner with the use of test statistics such as Karl Pearson Moment Correlation Coefficient, kruskal wallis one way analysis and the use of T-test to test the reliability of the results obtained under the correlation analysis. Chapter five comprises of major findings (Theoretical and empirical findings), while a new model has emerged for the IMC process. This chapter further draws suitable conclusion and offers relevant recommendations, managerial and policy implications, which shall be of immense importance to Marketing Communication Practitioners, Marketers of Food and Beverage Products and other users of IMC tools.
The following terms are defined for the purpose of this research.
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