IMC is usually concerned with effectively communicating the features of a product of a company through marketing strategies to a target audience. In reality, everything the company does have IMC potential. The price of a product can communicate to a target audience the value and image of an offered product. Outfitting a car with a CD player and leather upholstery also sends a strong message. A company that distributes its products only through discount stores communicates to the consumer a great deal. The combination of price, distribution and product with IMC, make up the marketing mix, which is a set of marketing tools that the firm uses to pursue its marketing objectives in the target market.
Managers have to consider the interaction between IMC and other marketing mix elements when deciding on the right IMC mix to the product offered by the company.
The product aspect of the marketing mix refers to the company’s offerings, of either goods or services.
Goods include the physical aspect of the products, size, weight and the services offered, for example, warranty, maintenance and repairs supplied by the company.
In planning a IMC, the Marketing Manager has to select one or two characteristics that will be crucial in positioning the product in the market. These attributes will be an outstanding feature in all forms of communication the company will use in establishing and reinforcing its message. The selected attributes will ideally represent product characteristics the target market wants, and clearly differentiate this product from other competitive products.
Many products are developed to have specific attributes that will give them the desired positioning in the market. The interaction between product policy decisions and IMC strategies is substantial, and as such sophisticated marketers will take note of it.
The price element of the marketing mix may appear to be a straightforward concept, but it has several dimensions.
In the implementation of the IMC strategy, the right price must be clearly related to the value of the collective attributes of product offered, as perceived by the customer. If the price is too high or too low relative to the perceived value, then the customer might not purchase the product. Other considerations in pricing involve features such as credit terms offered for the product, quantity discounts, prices for various sizes, models, and styles, and rental versus purchase prices.
Price has IMC influence. The content, style, mood, and orientation of advertising, sales IMC, packaging, and other aspects of IMC activity must communicate the same sense of quality to the consumer as the price suggests. An inconsistent message creates uncertainty and hesitation in decision to buy or not to buy the product.
Another aspect of the necessary integration of price and IMC decisions lies in sales IMC. Sales IMC activities often entail an offer of a price concession (such as discount coupons) to the consumer. This form of price reduction ensures that the lower price in fact goes to the consumer and not to the retailer in the form of a higher margin. Price reductions of this nature are usually temporary. Price and IMC must go together in strategic decision-making or else one risks consumer misperceptions of ineffective pricing moves.
Distribution is another element in marketing mix. It concerns the selection of distribution channels. Clearly, the choice of retail outlets relates to both product offering and its price.
The structuring of a distribution channel involves choice and decisions by two parties the manufacturer and the distribution outlet. Each selects or rejects the other, and IMC plays a major role in these choices.
Some retailers will only select brands that are heavily advertised and have strong brand following to help attract customers to their store. Others place great weightage on IMC allowances and cooperative advertising programs that suppliers offer. Still others prefer to promote their own store brands, which they acquire from smaller manufacturers under private-label arrangements.
Some manufacturers will sell only to outlets whose image and position in the market are consistent with their own. Others choose retailers known for their support of manufacturers’ IMC programmed, such as in-store displays and demonstrations. Some prefer to eliminate retailers altogether, opting for direct consumer sales.