Marketing Communications Strategy Essay
Branding has become one of the most classiest of all activities for marketers as a result of the globalized nature of economies and countries. The best target group for effective branding has been the teenage segment of the population i.e. people belonging to the 13-20 age group. This segment of the population is highly brand conscious and when it comes to clothes, there is a high degree of particularity that has to be taken care of.
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As a result, classy, trendy and fresh branded outfits are the norm for this age bracket of which the importance can be judged by a statement from Branded- a book written by Quart, Alissa (2003) where she writes “Inspired by the commercialization of youth and also by the signs of resistance to it, I decided to write Branded. The term brand suggests both the ubiquity of logos in today’s teen dreams and the extreme way these names now define teen identities. (Margarella, 2003)” Thus, the focus of this paper will be to develop effective marketing communications campaigns for this target market for a medium sized firm keeping into view that the first impression in the market is the last impression. Thus it is very necessary to design the marketing communications program for designer clothes that would be appealing and attractive to the youth segment of the population.
One of the most noticeable apparel that a person displays is his or her dressing. This is, in fact, one of the primary concerns for most of the population especially for females in the ever more fashion and appearance oriented societies that we now live in (Gombeski, 2008). Moreover, there has been a tremendous leap towards the disposition of branded clothing during the past couple of years which means that companies nowadays are investing more resources towards developing, grooming and maintaining their branded clothes collection which ultimately find preference over the traditional unbranded attires. It is extremely important that companies undertake a well planned and thorough marketing activity to initiate their clothing line in order to be able to compete effectively in the market against other local and international clothing collections.
Branding for the youth
One of the most important ingredients of marketing that either make or break the designer line’s name and his success is branding. The first step in any marketing activity is to identify the target markets which in our case are the youngsters’ between the ages of 13-20. It is this age bracket in which the adolescents seem to be standing at an awkward age where neither they are too young to play with the toys nor have they groomed into adults. “Understanding the target market, their way of thinking, their activities and the reasons for the true desire to embrace designer outfits with a knowledge of what the teens really want to wear and show off is tremendously important for framing the entire marketing plan and consequently developing the right brand name and image and positioning it in the way youngsters really want it (Lee 2007, p15)”. What is needed is basically to know exactly what the youth want and delivering according to it. The entire process of branding should focus on the youth and their needs and desires.
Understanding the target market
For the youth who are lingering somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the craving for dressing and clothing is more than the desire to eat. It is the very desire to dress distinctively and wear brands that would leave upon others a positive perception that fuels purchases for the teenager segment. Once identified with the overall target market, the company now needs to segment this age group on the basis of tastes, preferences and activities. Within the youth age bracket of 13-20, there are the party goers who settle in for the trendiest, fashionable and expensive outfits there are on the rack. Then there may be the gloomy ones adopting a gothic outlook and hence wanting anything in dark shades and styles (Margarella, 2003). School and college goers would want comfortable yet trendy and informal tops and pants within an affordable range as they would make large purchases for their everyday college wear. Personal activities such as a love for sports mean incorporating such designs or labels on shirts. In United States, it has been reported that drinking has also affected teens clothing to a great extent with many boys wearing shirts showcasing drinking labels such as Budweiser or with related pictures or logos.
Similarly, a desire for celebrities outfits, cartoon characters, specific looks such as military or army, the medium sized company should have all on offer from the latest looks of rock concerts, movie magazines and gossip tabloids that will attract the youth on all levels with all sorts of tastes and desires. “Fashion conscious teens tend to go wild over shirts, caps and jackets emblazoned with their celebrities’ initials, their favorite team’s logo, rock star’s name or appealing graphics (Lee 2007, p13)”.
Developing the strategy
When the target market of adolescents under study of the age bracket 13 to 20 has been fully analyzed with their needs, wants and desires, it is now time to frame an organized brand strategy that incorporates all of the findings and caters entirely to the wishes of the target consumers. The beginning step is to set down how to gain the appeal and fondness of this target market. 4 Brand names do not necessarily have to mean anything but they should be catchy enough to be easily restored in people’s minds. Short and memorable brand names make the most appeal. However, it would not just be the name; it will be the entire aura around it that will add to the appeal of the youngsters’ brand. The aura has to be created with the use of appropriate marketing techniques that give off the required image that the medium-sized company really wants its target market to perceive the brand as.
“The brand image and brand identity that a company needs to develop in order to successfully target and appeal to its consumer segment has to be achieved with the use of effective marketing strategy (Temporal 2002, p1)”. The marketing department needs to focus on the desires of the youth or tap into those unexplored areas of interests that will suddenly emerge in the youngsters once they become exposed to the marketing practices of the company. Advertisements can play a crucial role here by taking up TV celebrities, young movie stars like twilight heroines or classy sports figures like Ronaldo and Rooney can cause a special attachment in the youngsters for the brand. The advertising can be done on TV primarily on channels such as on cartoon channels to target youngsters within 13-17 maybe and for the older segment which tends to be more mature Star World or other drama channels can be more relevant.
Apart from TV advertising, there are numerous teenage magazines where cloths branding will be the most effective. “Also, in the daily newspaper a segment that is devoted to youngsters can be used to occupy an ad from this designer company (Etzel, Walker, Walker & Stanton 2000, p12)”. It is important to consider the Gestalt Theory when framing advertisement: which tells marketers to use the correct image, color and graphics for remembrance of a brand in the minds of the consumers. Flyers being given out inside shopping malls can also be a good way of promoting the company’s brand. Also, the company needs to sponsor or create its own program that truly gives off the right impression of the brand and hence creates the brand identity.
In the entire process of identifying and developing a branding strategy, focus groups comprising of a handful of 15 teenagers can be extremely helpful in shaping the minds of marketers and taking them towards the right direction. Polls can also be held online on the company’s website comprising of the entire catalogs of outfits that are available. Online advertising on websites related to the youth can also prove to be a very successful idea Moreover, the atmosphere and ambiance of the outlet needs to be very appealing to the youth. Funky songs can be played in the background, with fresh and lively pictures all around with a few activities for the youngsters. The youth likes to mix and match different styles of shorts with different pants or skirts and hence it should be left entirely on them to choose an outfit for themselves (Trout 2009, p1). However, in case kids want help there should certainly be some fashion advisors in the outlet and customer service should be superb.
Without the right ambiance, marketing strategies or the right products in place, the market for the designer clothes may shrink or may never grow. The medium sized company should then find the inefficiencies or deficiencies in the existing brand strategy that it pursues and identify those elements that are not in line with the youths’ target market needs and wishes. It should alter its current strategy to become consistent with the new branding strategy to target the youth (Temporal 2002, p1). Only if the company is able to deliver to its customers in the way they want it will it receive the brand loyalty and brand commitment that they deserve otherwise the youngsters have an array of choices out there and they can easily switch their purchases from one brand to another.
Integrated efforts of all involved
Сreating or altering a brand strategy and developing the brand image and then delivering it to the target audience with the promise of living up to the corporate brand expectations by the youth involves an integrated, concerted and unified effort from all those involved in the entire process of branding. The entire series of people or groups who are either working in the process of branding or are being affected by it in any way by it need to be taken into consideration throughout the process. This will involve different sets of people which we will now look at. Firstly, it is the customers which in our case are the youngsters in the age group of 13 to 20 who need to be taken into account. “The company needs to be customer-centric and focus all its activities in a way that caters to each and every expectation and desires of the target market. Focus groups, surveys, mall interviews, samples through a pilot survey for the clothing and brand name testing and questionnaires can all help towards gaining knowledge on what exactly the youth wants (Etzel, Walker, Walker & Stanton 2000, p113)”. Customers play a vital role because they need to be involved, directly or indirectly in every phase of the branding strategy. Customers need to be treated as the kings and then their participation and views are the most important for the organization.
Managers or personnel who are directly involved in the branding process are the ones that are responsible for framing into perspective the needs and desires of those customers, developing a blue print and realistically setting the goals of the entire branding process. They are the ones who develop the branding strategy, the brand names and the entire brand image associated with the product. The major chunk of this responsibility lies with the Branding Department with a great deal of continuous communication with the Marketing Department who will then put the whole plan into action. Also, the Finance Department plays a vital role here by allocating resources and budgets and making other numerical judgments such as the prospective revenues or profits to be made and the amount of risk involved (Lee 2004, p2).
Suppliers are also an extremely important figure in the entire branding process. They are the ones delivering the necessary supplies of fabrics, embellishments, designs and other accessories. Their deliveries in the required amounts need to be received for further manufacturing. The prestated standards and quality measures need to be met in order to ensure that the products or outfits developed meet the expectations of the target market. “On-time deliveries is another important aspect of it in to avoid any late manufacturing and hence late delivery of final products to the market leading to lost sales and harming the image of the company (Temporal 2002, p13)”.
Company’s other product line managers also need to be aware that this new brand is coming up. This is especially necessary to make up for any back up that may be required in case the brand does not do well initially. It is hence a means of balancing the revenues or profits of the company using different product lines in order to assure that if the new brand incurs initial losses, the other brands or product lines of the same company can be made more profitable. In fact all these brand managers and product managers along with marketing managers need to work in a collaborative manner in order to be alarmed beforehand of any unwanted situation.
Competitors are also a major consideration when a new brand is to be launched or an existing brand needs to be altered to target a new market niche. Having a look at the competitor’s strategies that are already in the business and analyzing them critically will open up new insights for the medium sized company which can then be used as opportunities to take advantage of. Insights about location of the outlet, the new styles of clothing, the ambiance of the outlet and different product offers and promotional efforts can all be taken from a thorough market research and competitor analysis.
Other business may also be a part of this brand creation and brand promotion. This is especially true of those businesses that can help the business in some way or another. There can be creative designer companies or market research companies that will help the firm in developing and establishing the brand strategy by providing it with the necessary research data it requires about customers and competitors. There are also promotional companies such as advertising firms that the firm can get in touch with if it thinks that its internal marketing department may be insufficient.
The elements of an effective marketing communication strategy mentioned above can be the major differences between success and failure, most of the times. It is very necessary to “know” your target market and understand their behavior. Marketers in the clothing industry fail to see through the lines and often fail in the advertising portion. Building the brand is the most important activity that needs to be undertaken with great care and vigil. Thus, it would be highly advisable for firms to rely on their creative human resource assets to take the company ahead in a highly competitive market and achieving for them a sizeable pie of the consumer market through effective branding and positioning and developing an integrated marketing communication program.
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Temporal, P. (2002, June). Retrieved December 5, 2009, from BrandingAsia.com: http://www.brandingasia.com/columns/temporal10.htm
Trout, J. (2009, May 9). Brand Positioning Basics. Retrieved December 7, 2009 from: http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2009/02/brand-positioning-basics.html