Ongoing exchange of ideas is one of the basic elements of a successful business. For this kind of exchange, an integrated marketing communication plan is substantial. The process of integrated marketing communication involves coordination of different promotional elements and other marketing activities that in turn assist in communicating with customers (Armstrong & Kotler, 2006). Here, in this paper an Integrated Marketing Communication plan will be developed for Starbuck Company that specializes in coffee.
Now, the company is introducing Starbuck's coffee in the Netherlands with the objective of understanding and integrating the needs of local Dutch market with the Starbucks business practices. The city selected for targeting is Amsterdam and the target customers are students. For effectively communicating with its target customers, the company requires an effective integrated marketing communication plan. In this paper, the IMC plan will be developed along with the consideration of different elements of IMC and a variety of applications.
Integrated Marketing Communication Plan
The concept of marketing is evolving from traditional to interactive, consumer driven and social marketing. In regard to all these, the concept of IMC is also developing that is known as Integrated Marketing Communications (Armstrong & Kotler, 2006). Integrated marketing communication is the marketing strategy that integrates all the promotional mix of a company like personal selling, sales promotion, publicity, direct marketing and advertising. It is directed to communicate about a product or brand. Strategic aim of a firm's IMC plan is to establish long term bond with its specific target market (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2005).
With the help of IMC, marketers combine communication messages throughout all accessible media channels into an uninterrupted brand experience. Being a part of a successful integrated marketing strategy, IMC incorporates public relations, advertising, online, social media, etc; and various other communications elements into one unified entity all delivering the identical message (Clow, n.d.). It is a cross functional process directed to execute all kinds of vital tasks for the company such as marketing, operational, financial and production.
An effective IMC plan facilitates a business in transforming itself and demonstrating its presence in global market (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2005). In present most of the organizations are adopting the concept of IMC. Rather than splitting up marketing communications into distinguished groups that seldom communicate; organizations can now integrate all marketing aspects under one umbrella. IMC is a viable approach for asserting competency in the intended market. With the development of an effective IMC plan, a company can easily communicate the desired message to its current and potential customer (Armstrong & Kotler, 2006).
Development of Integrated Marketing Communication Plan
Development of an integrated marketing communication plan is not as easy as it seems. It is an all inclusive process that includes some specific steps. The Starbuck's also has to follow all vital guidelines for the launch of their coffee in Netherland. The company can effectively develop an IMC Plan by following an appropriate sequence (Armstrong & Kotler, 2006). Without this, it would not be possible for the company to communicate and introduce its brand effectively.
Subsequent is the process through which Starbuck's can develop an IMC plan for communicating with local Dutch market:
Review the Marketing Plan:
The marketing plan of the company evidences that Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation is the leading coffeehouse chain across the globe. The company currently has operations in more than 44 countries. Now company is planning to open its store in Netherland. It wants to offer local Dutch market and its youthful generation with standardized products in the form of coffee, tea and other wide assortment of snacks and sandwiches (Vecht, 2006). For this launch, the mission of the company is to introduce Starbucks in the Netherlands by starting a test store in Amsterdam. This store of the company will be operated by adjusting to the needs of the local customers while holding the core Starbucks strengths integral.
The objectives of company's launch are also quite effective in regard to the target market environment. The company has to operate according to its target market environment that depicts that Dutch care a lot about the environment and consider social responsibility as an imperative factor of a company. The target market selected is not having a coffee-house culture even they like coffee a lot. As well, the Dutch do not spend money easily on food and beverages and they respect good service (Vecht, 2006). They like exceptional discounts even if it is only for a specific group like students.
According to the target market environment, the marketing strategy adopted by the company should be well-developed and focus on operating in responsible manner. The marketing mix of the company should be all-inclusive as it needs to be developed on the basis of characteristics' of target market (Belch, Belch, Kerr & Powell, 2009). The product offered by Starbuck's can be divided into tangible and intangible products. Generally, tangible products offered by Starbuck's include coffee, other beverages, snack, coffee mugs and music etc. Intangible products include its services and homely environment to its customers.
At the time of introducing Starbuck's location in Amsterdam, the group of Starbucks products should remain restricted and it is because of basic cultural and behavioural differences among Dutch and other country people. Dutch people are little bit closed and they consider their breakfast and lunch moments as private moments. Offering snacks with coffee would work as a hold-up for the company as with this their sales may decline (Vecht, 2006). In addition to offering coffee, the Dutch customers should be provided with some discounts or bonuses as there almost every chain makes use of bonus and saving system.
The company may offer coffee at premium pricing aggregated with a premium name. The place through which coffee will be served is company's coffee store that should be located in city or at the place that does not have any negative impact on the minds of Dutch customers. For the promotion of its store, the company need to offer all the things that Dutch customers want (Vecht, 2006).
They need to assure that products and services of Starbuck's appeal them in comparison to other coffee places. They can be attracted by offering different tastes and sizes (Marketing Communications, 2009). As well, they may be attracted by evidencing that Starbuck's have comfortable chairs, good music, adequate lights and possibility to use internet. In this way, Starbuck's can easily with Dutch culture.
All these marketing mix elements need to be maintained by the Starbuck's as the competition in the Amsterdam is quite effective. It is a big city and is always crowded with diverse people. Its diversity varies with students, tourists, ethnic groups and businessmen. This diversity of the city attracts lots of businesses that are also applicable in case of coffee chains. Starbuck's also has to compete with existing as well as new entrants (Kurtz, MacKenzie & Snow, 2009). The existing competitors of the company are Coffee Company and Bagels & Beans. Both of these companies are doing well and have attained an effective position.
Promotional Program Situation Analysis:
The company is presently operating in 44 countries that evidence its ability to establish its presence in global markets. The company is having all essential strengths for promoting Starbuck's in Netherlands. The company employs a number of professional marketing managers that assist it with its different promotional campaigns. Throughout the world, everyone knows Starbuck's as the company has established itself as a worldwide brand (Belch, Belch, Kerr & Powell, 2009). The Dutch market is also not unaware with its popularity and most of the people have an optimistic attitude in concern to the future introduction of Starbucks in Amsterdam.
The company has already established its presence that now can be appealed with effective promotional campaigns and elements. The company also integrates certain aspects that yet not have been integrated by its competitors (Developing an Integrated marketing Communication Plan, 2010). If offers a substantial variety of quality coffees with a comfortable and cosy environment. The company have all essential strengths through which it may easily establish an effective promotional campaign for launching its store in Amsterdam and targeting students (Starbuck's SWOT, 2010).
In contrast to company's internal ability to develop promotional programs, the external environment of the company is also favourable. By analyzing the needs of its Dutch customers and students that are targeted, the company can develop a successful promotional program (Roy, 2004). The target customers of the company are students and Amsterdam is a real student's city. In this city, different kind of education is provided that vary from diverse schools to diverse education levels in different fields. In addition to this, diverse students' societies are also founded in Amsterdam. In the whole day, number of students travel through the city to go from one place to other.
The students are usually social and they like to hang out, chat and have some drink in outside to their residency premises. These students can go to Starbuck's that can provide them with comfortable environment to chat and discuss their study related matters (Marketing Communications, 2009). The needs of these students provide Starbuck's with an opportunity to establish its presence in Amsterdam and further in Netherlands with other target groups.
The company can easily establish its promotional programs with the help of segmentation, targeting and positioning. The segmentation can be done on the basis of demographic, psychographic and behavioural segments (Kotler, 2002). Target marketing strategy that may be adopted for effective promotional program is undifferentiated marketing. This will be most appropriate as in Amsterdam the product that is offered to all target customers is exclusive that is coffee.
In addition to segmentation, targeting the company may also make its promotional program effective with the development of positioning. When company starts it marketing campaign, it should focus mainly on building the Starbucks and for this, it will be positioned generally in respect to its market (IMC Plan Outline, n.d.). The main goals at initial stage will be creating brand awareness and attracting more and more customers. When, it will be established, the company can focus on different target groups.
Communication Process Analysis:
Next substantial step in the direction of developing an IMC plan is to analysis communication process in which company's marketing as well as communication objectives are evaluated along with its budget determination. The launch of Starbuck's Coffee store in Netherlands is intended to attain following marketing & Communication objectives:
Attain revenues of â‚¬450,000 in its first year.
Maintain first year operating expenses less than â‚¬300,000.
Earn profit in the second operational year.
Attain 15% market share in first year.
Successfully launch Starbuck's in Netherlands.
Open its first store in Amsterdam.
Gain awareness among target market with the help of various IMC tools.
Communicate with target customers about Starbuck's and its location.
The budget of integrated marketing communication plan is $50000 that will be divided significantly among the all the promotional mix tool selected for IMC plan.
Development of Integrated Marketing Communication Program:
The last but not the least step of IMC plan is the development of integrated marketing communication program that can be done by making use of different promotional mix elements (Holm, 2006). For creating awareness among target customers, Starbuck's can make use of advertising and public relations. Once it successfully establishes its presence in Amsterdam can adopts more promotional mix elements to increase its presence in Netherlands. Subsequent is the pattern in which the company can make use of selected promotional mix elements:
IMC Planning Process
For accomplishing the above discussed communication objectives, the company can make use of advertising. It can adopt different kinds of advertising like posters, internet and magazines as its communication channels (Eagle & Kitchen, 2000). The company can advertise its coffee by creating a message like:
"Starbucks is a place to study, chat, relax and hang around with a comfortable and cosy environment in Amsterdam."
In the above discussed communication channels, first of all the company should concentrate on the use of posters that can be used on the public transportation system. In Amsterdam vast majority of students use public transportation to go from one place to another in city. Large and attractive posters can be placed at big stations of the city and at the metro stations and at stops of the trams (Vecht, 2006). These posters should be at appropriate places so that can attract everyone's attention.
In addition to posters, other communication channel that can be used to advertise about Starbuck's is internet. The company can advertise about its opening with popular sites used by students in the city like Hyves and university sites. This site is used by students to search old friends and it is identified that 75% students of the city use this site (Vecht, 2006). As well, launch of Starbuck's can also be advertised by school papers and magazines. In Amsterdam every university or school publish its own newspaper that is an effective medium to make them aware about Starbuck's launch in the city.
Subsequent to the determination of message and media strategy, it is essential that the company take decisions about media channels frequency, budget and flighting (Eagle & Kitchen, 2000). The campaign should start 4-6 weeks before the store starts. The campaign should be made interesting by delivering little bit information about the store in starting weeks and slowly and gradually they should be revealed with the actual name and its distinctive qualities.
In the use of internet a single exclusive message should be designed so that students don't get confused and it should be presented in the form of banners on students' sites. The advertisements placed in school papers and newspapers should also be synchronized with other advertising media so that only a single message is delivered (Vecht, 2006). The budget of $50000 need to be distributed among three media that can be done in the following manner:
Posters - $35000 due to wide reach
Internet - $12000
Print ads - $8000
For all the selected mediums, posters, internet, and print ads, the flighting will be identical.
Another substantial promotional tool that can be used by the company is public relations. The company can manage its launch by associating its operations with environment and community. The on-going students' related activities and special events can be sponsored by the Starbuck's. This will assist the company in creating its positive image in the minds of city students that in turn will assist in successful launch of its store (Holm, 2006). By creating public relations the company can easily and effectively attain all its marketing and communication objectives.
Monitor Evaluation and Control:
The last significant step in the IMC planning process is to monitor, control and evaluate the integrated marketing communication program. All aspects of communication program need to be controlled and monitored on regular basis so that if any kind of change is required can be adopted in timely manner (Christensen, Firat & Torp, 2008). This is the last step but the most crucial in the whole IMC plan.