In a competitive economic system where there is an aggressive battle for survival and development of the organization, it is necessary to have an insight about the consumers. The insight includes detailed information about the consumer’s needs, preference, attitude and behavior. Integrated Marketing Communications is a concept that is designed to make the elements of advertising, sales, promotion and marketing work together in such way that it becomes a unified system, rather than each element working in isolation (Keller, 2001). Therefore, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications is getting an additional attention in the context of research but still the behavior of the consumer related to Integrated Marketing Communications and its impact is hard to evaluate (Hackley and Kitchen, 1998). Mulhern, (2009) stated that Integrated Marketing Communications has emphasized on consumer orientation in the designing and development of processes for the strategic communication. Hence, understanding consumer insights is accepted as the first step in the development of an Integrated Marketing Communications plan and strategy.
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Consumer behavior in relation to Integrated Marketing Communications can be categorized in four ways, and each of them can be used into order to evaluate the IMC effects. The four ways can be described as follows:
In the modern context, it has been universally accepted that the concept of marketing is not persuading individuals to buy what an organization offers, but the main purpose of the company is to satisfy the needs of the customers, which is the core objective of the organizational existence. Developing effective mode of channels through which effective marketing communication can be developed is an essential characteristic of an Integrated Marketing Communications in the contemporary world (Reid, Luxton, & Mavondo, 2005). Implementing the approach of Integrated Marketing Communications is not a part of the marketing mix however; it is holistic marketing concept in which the company strengthens the relationship with the consumer to send a particular message. Thus, an Integrated Marketing Communications aims at building strong relationship with consumers so that long-term relationship can be maintained (Black, 2004).
In recent years, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications has evolved and this has led to the concept of faster communication in all areas of the business. Thus, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications has changed the overall dynamic of marketing and improved all the areas in which the element of communication is present. Communication requires the transformation of digital message into the form of symbols so that the desired message can be delivered (Blythe, 2006). The effective communication of the desired message will have a positive impact on the output of the organization. Marketing communication occurred in the 20th century has significantly changed the market dynamics (Cateora, 2007). In a global market where the competition is aggressive, and the market is highly dynamic in nature, the organization wants to find out the ways in which they can cater the needs of the customers in an efficient way and the benefits can be passed upon them (Clow, 2010). Similarly keeping in view the vision and mission of the organization and its alignment with the marketing communication the importance of IMC has drastically increased and has taken a new significant shape. Its importance has also given rise to the fact that communication and marketing concepts are inseparable i.e. various organization are using the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications to deliver and communicate their value and offerings. Briefly, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications has a complex structure in terms of its context and as a tool for action. The primary purpose of marketing is considered as, a way to strengthen the brands. However, on the other side the competitors have become brands. Therefore, observing the competition many experts are of the opinion that the fundamental idea of an Integrated Marketing Communications is the only way to create sustainable competitive advantage over others. The long-term relationship will enable the company to create and communicate what a company wants to offer and what are the benefits attached. This will help customers to build a strong relationship, which will lead to brand loyalty (Mihart, 2012a).
Consumer behavior changes with the varying social, cultural, psychological and personal factors undertaken by different Integrated Marketing Communications channels. If the marketing activities hurt the personality, social or cultural aspects of consumer, it will impact the consumer behavior negatively. However, such marketing activities that support the consumer’s various aspects will result in constructive impacts on consumer behavior towards a particular product (Ratnatunga & Ewing, 2005).
Integrated Marketing Communications like sales promotion, advertising and personal selling helps to change the perceptions of people about brand, create more brand awareness and image. The imposed brand image and awareness can influence the level of customer satisfaction, expectations, customer values and trust, which ultimately result in behavioral and attitudinal loyalty (Kliatchko, 2005). A conceptual model of how Integrated Marketing Communications affect the consumer behavior, which is given below, defines this:
(Thaichon, n.d., p. 61)
Integrated Marketing Communications helps to create an affiliation of brand with consumer behavior. According to Keller (2001), Since IMC is directly related to consumer behavior; it can affect the buying decision of consumers. As Beerli and Santana (1999) have also suggested that IMC activities such as advertising, promotion have positive impacts on consumers’ responses that are based on three crucial dimensions, which include affection, cognition and conation. Lavidge and Steiner (1961) commented that IMC imposes positive impacts on consumer responses by combining the major elements like cognition, conation and affection. This statement is also agreed by Eagle and Kitchen (2000). These elements affect the purchasing behavior of the consumer and increase the sales, profits, market share, and brand loyalty. The conation stage of the consumer identifies the buying intention of the consumer. However, Vakratas and Ambler (1999) argued that the hierarchy of affection, cognition and conation is temporary, and this can be changed depending on the use of different Integrated Marketing Communications tools. Hall (2004) supported the fact that IMC has positively impacted the consumer behavior. He further proposed that IMC helps to shape the perceptions of consumers, enhance the product experience and organize their memory about the product. IMC also develops the ways to create a good relationship with consumers, which in one way or other assist companies to sell their products to customers with whom they have better relationships.
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Bitner (1990) has emphasized that satisfaction is one of the major factors that influence consumer behavior in terms of purchase. Consumers usually go through the justification of needs and prefer products that best meet their needs. Hence, such IMC methods are useful that help to portray the fulfillment of consumers’ needs, satisfying them to the core so that they make a final purchasing decision. Sometimes, consumers, purchasing behavior does not rely upon complete satisfaction of needs but they make purchases due to emotional resonance developed between them and the product with the help of IMC activities (Tsai, 2005). Hence, this shows that IMC is an effective approach, which develops an association of product or brand directly with the consumers. Szymanski and Henard (2001) has argued that once the consumer is satisfied, this indicates the service excellencies, affection and equity, and fulfillment of desires. This signifies the importance of IMC on developing satisfaction level of consumers, which then subsequently result in greater purchase of a product that greatly satisfies the consumers.
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