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How does Alessi implement Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) to help promotethe brand and attain market share?Introduction Alessi is an Italian company that was founded in 1921 by Giovanni Alessi. Initially, it was just a workshop that made the small objects from wood and metals and these objects were used in the houses and the kitchen. The brand is famous for delivering a very high quality of the products and since a century, the company has gradually developed to become one of the lading factories with Italian design. The company has become capable of applying the expertise and excellence in the field of design management to the various types of products. This company has always been open to change and has grabbed all sort of international opportunities. This company has a strong bond with the cultural background and traditions of its area. Rationale of studyThe company Alessi is a mid-range brand that focuses on a niche market. It serves that group of customers who like the cultural and aesthetic designs. It sits in the middle of the range. The moreexpensive brands are Christofle and there are other cheap mass production brands. Alessi sits in the middle. There is a gap that Alessi exploits in order to gain market share. One of the efforts that the company puts to fill this gap is that it is implementing the integrated marketing communications plan which has the potential to help the company in gaining the market share. With the IMC tools and techniques, the company has been able to sell itself in the market. Alessi has been very much involved in promoting its products by using the IMC so it is required that theeffectiveness of the same gets evaluated and the company can know that how much the plan has been effective and useful so far.
With the research that will be carried out, Alessi can gain further market share by expanding their range to more of a mass produced range, something that can be used for everyday use.The following research has the following objectives:1.To study the IMC concept and determine its usefulness for the companies.2.To analyze the implementation of IMC by Alessi.3.To determine the success of IMC in promoting Alessi as a brand.4.To investigate the impact of IMC on the market share of Alessi.Literature ReviewThis section looks into the previous studies conducted regarding Integrated Marketing Communication. IMC is defined “an on-going, interactive, cross-functional process of brand communication planning, execution, and evaluation that integrates all parties in the exchange process in order to maximize mutual satisfaction of each other’s wants and needs” (Duncan and Mulhern 2004, p. 9). IMC is evolving as a strategic management process that involves the interweaving of activities and procedures crossing traditional departmental boundaries, employing the knowledge and skills of specialists and nonspecialists alike to bring together allresponsibilities for communication (Ratnatunga and Ewing 2009). Furthermore, it is a process driven by, and responsive to, customer data, understanding stakeholder perceptions aboutthe brand, the role of traditional and emerging channels, and recognizes that increased brand equity reflects the outcome of efficient and effective customer and stakeholder relationships(Burmann, Jost-Benz, and Riley 2009). IMC plays an important role in contributing to the building of brand equity, which is the stored value, built up in a brand, used to gain market advantage (Srivastava, Fahey, and Shervani 2000).
There are several benefits associated with developing an IMC capability. It helps firms focus their resources (time, effort, and financial) against “best” customers and prospectsvia “outside-in” thinking, which starts with the customer rather than determining what is to be said and then looking for prospects to whom to say it. It is designed to bring all the marketing and communication elements into a credible, persuasive, meaningful, and measurable process that can be evaluated for effectiveness and efficiency. It consequently encourages thecohesive coordination of all the firm’s communication activities into a whole via a common firm-wide framework. Finally, it facilitates the effective use of external resources and internalcapabilities to achieve maximum results (Ratnatunga and Ewing 2009).IMC is valuable because it confers many benefits in communication (overall effectiveness, lowercosts, more targeted to stakeholder groups); this explains why many companies are investing in IMC (Duncan and Mulhern 2004). IMC is on one hand embedded within organizations; on theother, its deployment and implementation is episodic. Hence, the configuration of activities in IMC for each organization is different and potentially unique. However, it is believed bestpractice IMC could be imitated. This may be expensive for competitors (diseconomies of duplication; Dierickx and Cool, 1989). Consistent with Eisenhardt and Martin (2000) IMCmay not be a source of sustainable competitive advantage but is likely to provide a series of temporary advantages. Again it is noted that IMC may be substitutable by various configuration and strategic management orientations with specific reference to communication. It is believed this substitutability is not complete but adequately serious to caution us from hypothesizing that IMC is a source of sustainable competitive advantage. It is further noted that capabilities differ from physical resources in that often their efficacy increases with regular deployment and use (asopposed to depreciation) (Makadok, 2001).
The IMC supporters consider the concept as a revolution meant to enhance marketing efforts andcreate brand equity (McGrath, 2005). The branding literature suggests that the integration of marketing communication programmes can form consumer perceptions of the product or service and can help to create different attributes of brand image (Keller, 1993, 2009; Anantachart, 2004). In particular, IMC can influence and control the meanings linked with the brand, and create and reflect the brand image, thus influencing the way consumers perceive the product (CobbWalgren et al., 1995). As brand image is shaped in the consumers’ memory through brand associations, the consumer links the brand to both favourable and unfavourable concepts (Keller,2003). In addition, IMC can create brand meaning in the consumers’ minds by strategically linking tangible and intangible brand associations with certain properties (Keller, 2009). The strength of brand associations from communication effects will actually depend on the integration of brand identities (i.e., brand name, logo, and symbol) within the supporting marketing programmes (Keller, 1993). Specifically, Kandampully and Suhartanto (2000, 2003) suggested that, together with other marketing variables, communication can directly affect the hotel’s image. Moreover, consistent message may create a stronger image suggestion in consumers’ memory than amessage that delivers conflicting or not highly consistent information. Despite the medium that message is delivered through (i.e., print, television, Internet, or radio), if the message is consistent, it will enhance the possibility that the brand’s intended image is retained by consumers (McGrath, 2005). Therefore, we can conclude that the customer will perceive a strongbrand image when he perceives a consistent message through different communication tools (Dewhirst and Davis, 2005; Keller, 2003; Madhavaram et al., 2005).
In addition, Israeli et al. (2000) reported that repetition in marketing communications could be a signal or indicator of quality and, moreover, significant in creating and maintaining customer loyalty. Similarly, Keller (2009) suggested that IMC can stimulate intense and active consumer-brand loyalty relationships by facilitating a strong connection between customers and the brand. As McGrath (2005) noted, if consumers are exposed to consistent brand messages, these messages can help maintain brand loyalty. On the other hand, if consumers receive inconsistent messages, they can have negative impact on the initial learning about the brand (Ehrenberg et al.,2002). When focusing on this relationship in the hotel context, Imrie and Fyall (2000) suggested that hotel’s promotional mix strategies can ensure customer retention and loyalty. Similarly, Hennessey et al. (2010) pointed out that the purpose of many tourism marketing communication campaigns is to build-on or change perceptions of customers in order to influence their behavioural intentions. Therefore, from an individual customer perspective, one of the most important goals of IMC is to effectively generate and maintain brand equity through encouragement and reinforcement of brand relationships with the customers and prospects (Anantachart, 2004). The rise of advanced ICT has dramatically changed advertising and marketing communication planning in general, and IMC planning in particular (Peltier et al., 2003). The literature has evidenced several denominations which reflect the synergy between the ICT and IMC, such as: (1) interactive integrated marketing communication (Peltier et al., 2003), (2) integrated Web-based marketing communication (Barker and Angelopulo, 2005), (3) online marketing communications (Jensen and Jepsen, 2008), (4) integrated online marketing communication (Gurau, ̆ 2008), and (5) interactive marketing communications (Keller, 2009). The basic idea of
these approaches is the interactive nature of new media and the creation of personalised messages consistent with the communication campaign theme (Peltier et al.,2003).Furthermore, the literature supports the essential role of ICT on company productivity and improvement of business operations (Law and Jogaratnam, 2005). The implementation of new technologies in companies results in notable advantages in management knowledge (Li et al., 2012), competition, increasing profitability, cost reduction, efficiency, and information-sharing (Lee et al., 2003). In addition, Gilbert and Powell-Perry (2001) reported that the Web is an effective marketing relationship tool, while Lee et al. (2003) found that, according to hotel managers’ opinions and beliefs, technology can also enhance the quality of service, contribute to lifting the overall image of the company, and encourage customer loyalty.About the companyAlessi is an Italian company that manufactures the designer tableware and kitchenware globally. Giovanni Alessi started this company in 1921 as a workshop that made the hand crafted items only (Hill, 2012, pg.195). Then in 1950, the management of the company was taken up by CarloAlessi and he started doing this work with the help of freelancers who designed the work and the items for this company. The aspect of taking the services of freelancer designers to make the products of this company became one of the pivotal aspects of the operations of this company and this thing also differentiated this company from the other companies in market (Pasca, 2014). Thus, the philosophy of Alessi’s organization is based on the traditional craftsmanship and their designs. In the present world too, the company has collaboration with almost 200 external designers and architects who continuously supply their ideas and this is known as an
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