This paper aims at the clarifying various beliefs about IMC in the consumer market especially in planning and advertising. IMC has a great potential for several organizations and businesses operating in varied environments. This paper focuses on the reasons for the adoption of IMC as well as the barriers against the efficiency of operation of IMC strategies. Several authors view IMC differently which has elucidated varied reactions. The paper also analyses empirical studies in IMC and the relevant contemporary studies. IMC is the new paradigm in the marketing sector despite posing varied reactions from different scholars.
Important Terms: Marketing, “Integrated” Marketing Communication (IMC), Advertising, Planning
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Integrated marketing communications is the basic platform which a given company cautiously desegregates and aligns its varied communication channels to help deliver a consistent, compelling clear messages about the organization and its products (Ewing 2009: 114). This is first aimed at identifying the consumer needs and building a strong brand identity in the given market. IMC is also concerned with reinforcement and trying together all the messages and images of a given brand. IMC therefore ensures that all the corporate messages, identity and images are coordinated across the marketing communication channels. This has led to the various definitions linked to IMC; where the consensus aims at defining them as; the integration and coordination of all the marketing avenues, sources and tools in a given company to a seamless program which ensures maximum effect on consumers as well as all the end users at a relatively low cost (Yeshin 2006: 32). The integration affects firms, customer focus, marketing channels and internal directed communication. This paper outlines varied views in planning and advertising strategy of IMC perspectives.
1.2 Reasons for Adopting IMC
Integrating marketing is one of the most significant moves that marketing developments have adopted since 1990s. The IMC approach in marketing “communication advertising” strategy and planning is being adopted by both the small scale and large scale companies. This is based on the various business-to-business values attached.
1.2.1 Rationality Norm
Yeshin (2006: 67) opines that under uncertain conditions, managers and organizations usually limit techniques that are considered fashionable. The management fashions and efficient perspectives differ in terms of the reasons fuelled by the organisation and the managers. The performance gap is the major determinant of any economical or technological idea (Luck and Moffat 2006: 321). Several managers seek novelty and security which is part of a fashionable management technique. In addition, management techniques offer rationality appearance which satisfies the social pressures from the stakeholders. IMC has also been accepted by various advertising agencies and marketers which imply that IMC is a rational norm (Cornelissen 2001: 485). IMC assists managers and marketers to solve a complex situation in a rational manner. Eagle, Kitchen and Bulmer (2007: 961) concludes that there is a rationality norm upon which managers must conform in relation to the norm of progress. There is no universal evaluation for this set of ideals which makes it difficult for these ideals to be fully attained. Thus, IMC becomes the only way which can alleviate these ideas.
1.2.2 Use of Rhetoricals
Ewing (2009: 110) states that IMC is closely associated with terms such as synergy, integration and holism argued on the rhetorical presentation as well as the appeal of its thoughts. Lack of theoretical debate and rhetoricals exemplifies symptomatic management style. Rhetoricals means written and spoken courses which justify the application of a given idea or technique. Organizations that have adopted rhetorical rely on construction of myths around the organization which is regarded a powerful discourse by managers in implementing their ideas (Hartley and Pickton 1999: 102). Rhetoricals and management fashion techniques provide a platform which helps managers justify their actions. Therefore through rhetoricals, managers can effect change, rationalize their behavior and bring on credibility and expertise in their organizations.
1.3 Barriers to IMC Implementation
Kitchen and Schultz (1998: 472) reiterates that managers and marketers find it difficult to cope with changes in investment and marketing communications. This has led to varied reactions about the growing trends in advertising and generally in marketing communications. Both the agencies and clients are negatively affected when creating and implementing an effective communication programme. Media fragmentation impacts negatively in several communication sectors which declines audience access to debates about measurement techniques. This has therefore forced re-examination of the marketing communication devices with the consequences of traditional media which may hinder new appliances in the industry (Percy and Elliot 2012: 123).
There is a distinct drift in the evolution of the IMC and the marketing theory practice. For instance, Luck and Moffat (2009: 318) outlines that there is turf war and tension between control of “communication” development and strategy and coordination of marketing communication. Ewing (2009: 109) acknowledges that the most valuable customer should be considered first. This state differs from the reality where there is little evidence of differential customer value. It is also clear that there exists an undefined relationship between different marketing communications and consumers. However, there is an emerging synergistic effect on the combination of print and television advertisements.
1.4 Empirical study on IMC
Duncan and Everett (1993: 35) state that it is quite difficult to take a perfect research on IMC as it comprises both the processes and the concepts. The concepts also differ based on the type of the organization and the researcher. Research on IMC focused on several aspects such as cooperation within an organization, compensation systems employed, and an organizational strategic development. This therefore posed a huge hindrance on the implementation of the IMC in UK.
In UK and USA, there is minimal evidence on the IMC prescription in various corporate and marketing communications. Cornelissen and Lock (2000: 12) asserts that 81% of the largest corporate in US have arranged their external communication into separate marketing departments and public relations. On the other hand, Eagle, Kitchen and Bulmer (2007: 968) reported that out of 323 organizations in the UK, Canada and the USA, public relations was more effective when communication function is equal to marketing communication. In addition, Eagle, Kitchen and Bulmer (2007: 966) study also looked at the effectiveness of an organisation of central public relations against the various independent units of communication programmes like marketing communication. This study stressed that there is little evidence about delegation of communication “responsibilities” and there are no negative consequences on the structural dispersion of communication disciplines to form separate units.
Kitchen, Kim and Schultz (2008:540) acknowledges that IMC is quite prevalent in USA and UK as compared to other countries. It is predetermined in the global communication “techniques” despite suggestions by Luck and Moffat (2009: 315) that media integration and advertisement are the major instruments in global promotional and marketing campaigns. In addition, Yeshin (2006: 89) opines that IMC is contingent on an individualised behavioural database which hinders an active organizational process in developing a sophisticated marketing communication network.
1.5 IMC and Contemporary Marketing Communication
Percy and Elliot (2012: 190) confirms that there is little empirical proof about marketing communication and IMC shift from mass marketing communication to the impending IMC practices. The IMC concept has been proven to be ambiguous as it is still underdeveloped. The marketing communication organization has however set up a clear description of change as integrated configurations have now replaced the functional structures in an advertising agencies and companies. Traditionally, IMC has a holistic system which fosters zero based thinking; this is a state where most cost effective solutions to communication are critically chosen. Hartley and Pickton (1999: 99) argue that integration is the sole solution to foster cross-functional cooperation in varied disciplines. In addition, Ewing (2009: 113) posits that integration is considered as the merger of barely all the marketing communication.
Validity is one of the descriptive theories that marketing communication management has established. Recent reviews on IMC research in UK and US have suggested that IMC has been periodical and as such; little evidence has been posed to validate contemporary marketing communication processes. I have therefore argued for IMC concept to be considered rhetorical. IMC is also less practical in UK and US as IMC concepts is considered ambiguous. Changes in market trends have also hindered the incorporation of IMC in today’s advertising. The paper has also critically analysed the rhetorical reasoning. In addition, past and contemporary marketing communication researches have been clarified.
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