The argument for integrated marketing

Just as more and more advertising and marketing practitioners are arguing the need for Integrated Marketing Communication in their marketing concept and process, I believe imc will become the leading methodology for ethnic marketing in Canada as well.The current ethnic market...

Just as more and more advertising and marketing practitioners are arguing the need for Integrated Marketing Communication in their marketing concept and process, I believe imc will become the leading methodology for ethnic marketing in Canada as well.

The current ethnic market situations in both Canada and the u.s. fit in with the following prerequisites of imc approaches.

1) Unified corporate/brand image: before positioning the corporate/brand image in the ethnic market, the advertiser and its ad agency need to consider the original corporate/brand image in the mainstream media, in the ethnic country of origin, and the brand loyalty of the target ethnic group.

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After selecting the right corporate/brand image, it is recommended that that image be used for a fixed period of time and that all ads have the same look and personality.

2) Consistent voice/message: the advertiser should know how to communicate to all of its audiences, namely staff, trade distributors and retailers, consumers, suppliers (domestic ethnic/overseas ethnic), and so on. The overall message should be of the same tone and outlook.

Commitment

This approach in the ethnic market will show the advertiser’s commitment to the selected ethnic market. In return, all parties will be willing to set more long-term goals and programs for development.

3) Consumer and market data: if the advertiser has budget limitations in conducting quantitative or qualitative research, market studies are recommended.

Market studies include a market visit, discussion with ethnic business associates (colleagues, suppliers or distributors) or selected ethnic consumers.

Setting up an ethnic consumer panel on a permanent basis and monitoring changes will provide valuable information.

4) Public and community image: one of the promotional approaches used commonly by advertisers in the ethnic market is the sponsorship of charity, community or business functions.

Unfortunately, most of these advertisers never fully use these sponsorship opportunities, partly due to the inexperience of the organizers and partly because of their media and ad agencies.

Simply including the logos of sponsors in all advertising and public relations materials will not create or enhance an advertiser’s corporate identity.

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These activities should tie in with the company’s corporate image and philosophy. Also, an individual strategic public relations program should be executed at the same time for more effective results.

In 1991, the manufacturer of confectionery brand Ferrero Rocher decided to test Chinese markets in Ontario.

Originally, the company simply wanted to run some tv commercials and newspaper ads to get a feeling for the market potential.

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Instead, we recommended the imc approach by using a promotion campaign. This was not the usual cash discount or premium promotion.

The objective of the marketing activity was to establish distribution outlets, to maximize merchandising and product exposures, to measure different product package performances in selected territories and to collect retailer and consumer feedback.

By applying the imc concept, we were able to use the same brand name in the Orient and create a new slogan (‘romantic lightness, the most enjoyment’), which, together, established the brand image and has since been used in most of the merchandising materials.

To minimize promotion costs, we used the point-of-sale and merchandising materials. Through strategic selection of and negotiation with retail outlets, the promotion achieved the client’s marketing objectives and did so under budget.

Best Foods, a leading packaged goods company in North American ethnic markets, integrates trilingual package design, promotions, tv commercials, newspaper ads and corporate sponsorships, among other marketing tools, in most of its campaigns.

A recent Mazola Corn Oil tv spot emphasized the brand name Mazola and highlighted its selling point: ’100% pure.’

The commercial ties the brand image to a Hong Kong scene, with which our target customers, who used the product while they were in the Orient, are familiar.

For the past two years, Toyota has used the trans-creation slogan ‘Toyota, promise of something better’ in all its magazine ads, newspaper ads and tv commercials.

Although each product is geared for a specific target market, the overall look and corporate image is always the same.

Each product ad is specifically targetted and the main concerns of the potential buyers are evaluated. Whether it is targetted to the business executive, yuppie or mature adult, the copy reflects the needs of its target market.

For example: ‘Corolla for family gathering,’ ‘Camry – set the benchmark of executive sedan,’ ‘Celica – your taste and style are developing from dynamics.’

Fixed budget

Unless a company has a fixed ethnic marketing budget or is committed to the ethnic markets, it may have difficulty in applying the imc approach.

In that case, it should modify its approach as follows:

- Clearly set your individual marketing goals and objective in each campaign. Do not select a media vehicle simply because it has the highest ratings or circulation, rather, research specific programs and the editorial content before placement.

Festival tie-in

Also, check to see whether any cultural festival can tie in with your campaign. Do not rely on one medium if possible. A media mix will create better results.

- Despite budget constraints, do not simply translate your message. Use a professional ethnic ad agency to develop creative strategy, slogan and copy specially for your target group. Without strategic thinking, your media investment is ineffective and wasteful.

- Start with marketing planning, rather than media planning. The ethnic market is the same as the mainstream market. Marketing mix, consumer behavior and merchandising are basic elements.

Without prior identification of your marketing strategy and goals, running a campaign in the ethnic market is just like shooting without a target.

Cleve Lu is president and account director at Toronto-based Era Advertising.