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Retail marketing
Retail marketing

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3.4 The marketing communication mix

Retailers should consider the range of communication tools that they can mix to communicate their marketing and branding messages. Advertising, sales promotion, public relations, digital marketing, direct marketing and personal selling are examples of important marketing communication tools widely used in the retail industry and other industry sectors.

Figure 11 The communication mix and the interrelations between media tools and audiences. Source: Fill (2009), p. 14.

Figure 11 indicates an interrelationship between the target customers, the tools and the media. This is because the tools a retailer might choose to target a particular audience will affect the media used to carry the message. It is important to note that deciding on the tools and media involves a complicated set of decisions. Indeed Davies (2001) suggested there are over 2,000 different combinations of interlinked decisions to consider that could affect marketing communication planning.

In order to make such choices, retailers need to select a blend of tools and media that will reach the target audience.

Each tool in the communication mix has different characteristics, which affect how they are used in conjunction with the media and communication messages.

According to Fill (2009) four important characteristics can help guide your choice of which communication tool to use for delivering particular marketing communication messages. The four characteristics are:

  1. Communication potential – focuses on the ability of the communication tool to deliver a personal message, its audience reach and the level of interaction offered.
  2. Credibility – refers to how the communication tool is perceived by the target audience.
  3. Cost – includes considerations about how much of the communication budget is required to use a particular tool, ratios of cost per contact and the size of investment required to use the particular communication tool.
  4. Control – the ability to reach specific target audiences and flexibility to adapt to changes in the communication setting.

The characteristics of each of the communication tools affect how and where they are used, based on the level of:

  • Communication potential, e.g. television advertising is good at visually informing target consumers of key features and benefits, whereas sales promotions are a call to action, to encourage consumers to make a purchase for example.
  • Credibility required (tools are perceived and valued differently by the target audience, e.g. public relations score high whereas advertising scores low).
  • Cost which is a major consideration and the communication budget will influence the choice of communication tools.
  • Control that is required. (In other words is the message that the target audience receives the same as the one the transmitter intended to send?)

What have you learnt about marketing communications in retailing?

In this section, you have been introduced to some of the key areas of marketing communications – the message, the media and the communication tools. You have considered the basics of the communication model that underpins the development of marketing communication messages. You have also explored what it takes to develop a communication message, how to use communications to build a brand and the characteristics of the different media that might carry marketing communications. In addition, you have identified a range of communication tools which make up the marketing communication mix.