Which method of setting the market’s communication budgets do you think the American Standard used? Explain why you think so
Setting the market’s communication budget is often an ill-researched project whose basis is factors such as company records, focus on future results, and secure funding. Every company should, at some point or the other, come up with a communications market budget and there are several ways of deciding on how much money to allocate on such a budget, what specifically to invest in, and how to set up efficient measurement systems to evaluate the publics’ response to the advertisement. The methods include the all available funds method, the affordable method, which uses the amount left after covering all the other expenses, the historical method, which is based on what was done in the previous year, viz. the executive experience. Percentage of sales, which is the percentage of the previous year’s sales or the next year’s forecast sales, the similar to competitors whose rule of thumb is that the share of voice at least equal to share of the market, and finally, the based on objectives method including as variables the benefits, growth, market share, or brand, among others.
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Of all the above methods, the percentage of sales method is most popular and this may be one of the methods applied by American Standards. However, a more accurate guess is that this company used the Econometric Modeling and Optimization Algorithms method. This assertion hinges on the fact that this method of budgeting for market communication incorporates the responses of the public to the campaign being advanced and allows the company to measure the effectiveness of certain methods of advertising by an analysis of various sales. The variables incorporated in the econometric modeling and optimization algorithms method include the amounts invested in advertising, the targets for the advertisements, and the channels used to advertise. This method also provides an elaborate measurement scheme that would have been helpful to the company in the measurement of various key variables including market size, market trends, customer satisfaction, and customer preference among others.
In the case of the American Standard Company, these variables are very evident, especially concerning the targets and the channels. The company was aiming at catching the attention of the majority of the Americans and it used a wide array of channels to achieve this end. The channels used include the distribution of bathroom magazines, the organization of showroom symposia that allowed customers and dealers to sample the goods offered, and the feedback mechanism that saw to various personal sales representatives making personal invitations to customers and dealers to sample the available goods.
The response curve in the econometric curve is non-linear, meaning that it does not necessarily continue to slope upwards in direct proportion to the increment of the advertisement budget. Additionally, three more variables in this method are significant and apparent in the American Standards Company vignette and these include a survey of brand awareness, brand attitude, and buying intent. As noted by the results of the market research, after the campaign, the perceptions of most Americans regarding American Standards shifted from “boring and institutional” to “well designed and depicting personal spirit”. This observation is an indication of the campaign’s objective to increase brand awareness to improve brand attitude and it was successful. The buying intent increases with the improvement of brand attitude and brand awareness and so in this case, the campaign can be adduced to have been very successful.
American Standard products are available in Canada. If you were a media planner, which Canadian media vehicles would you choose for print advertising. Justify your choices in terms of the target market
The first and conventionally obvious media vehicle would be the newspaper. Everybody has access to the daily and so that is guaranteed to reach a wide population of the country. Besides just reading the paper each morning, these leaflets are also often used to wrap a myriad of store items that people purchase. Ultimately, when that woman, girl, man, or anyone for that matter gets home with the products purchased and wrapped thus, other people in the house could be attracted to the glossy pictures of the American standards products presented before them. This aspect means that when deciding to put the products on the dailies for circulation, it would be prudent to use very colorful pictures that are guaranteed to catch the eye. However, it would also be wise not to overspend on such issues because they may not be permanent in their longevity.
Another option would be the use of magazines, such as those that are for architectural designs, interior design magazines, homes magazines, and even other magazines such as hair or body products magazines that the female clientele tends to peruse when doing mundane tasks such as getting a hairdo or standing in a queue. Additionally, the American Standard company could opt to feature some of its products or bathroom designs in conjunction with other businesses’ advertisements. For instance, in a wine advertisement, since the theme of the campaign is to love one’s bathroom, there could be a design that incorporates a couple in a steam bath sipping the wine. This aspect would both cut the costs of the advertisement and increase the receptive target’s appreciation of the bathroom designs.
Billboards are another option available in the print media and these could demarcate the various frequented malls in Canada. Related to such billboards are the other types of posters that can be placed on strategic points in the malls and other areas that are frequented by the masses. Additionally, the company could slip in brochures and pamphlets with attractive designs into dailies, magazines, other periodicals, and at the counter of major stores so that people can have as many avenues of exposure as possible. The age-old practice of using a mascot to hand out posters could also work very well. Such can be located at strategic places such as next to the products’ display areas in stores. Another option would be to establish a ruffle system that requires customers and dealers to fill in coupons and leave their contact information; for instance, an offer to have one’s bathroom remodeled if one is the lucky winner of the ruffle.
A justification for the use of print media in the forms suggested above with regards to the target market would be that for the products and services being proffered by the American Standards Company, the target market is mostly middle-aged Americans who while being technology savvy, market research has proven that they still are highly dependent on print media. This group grants credibility to tangible information and so newspapers and magazines would not be wasted on them. Technology research posits that especially after the notorious scandals involving the Internet such as Enron and the Sony sagas, they are less likely to be fully dependent on technology. Moreover, it is this segment of the population that has somewhat “settled” in life and obtained homes or are in the process of obtaining the same through mortgages. Consequently, they need the services that the American Standards Company provides for purposes of decorating or remodeling their homes.
Conversely, the younger generations are still in school or just beginning to earn in the economy and so they may not be such ardent clientele unless maybe for purposes of instilling brand loyalty, in which case the company may opt to advance campaigns engineered specifically for this purpose. The final reason why this choice would be a feasible media vehicle in Canada is the fact that it is a new market and so it is a safer option. These media vehicles are location and time tested and they are bound to work anywhere. Later, when the company matures further, it may opt for unique and target specific media.
Which forms of direct response marketing were used in this campaign? What was the desired response and how would American Standard measure it? What pieces of data would American Standard have in its database because of this campaign?
The campaign employed the call to action strategy that allowed customers and dealers to make toll free calls, or that enabled them to fill in a questionnaire to submit or request additional information. Consequently, each time a customer requested additional information, his or her contact data went into the American Standards database and this information was accessible to the sales representatives, the distributors, and even the kitchen and bath dealers who would then follow up on the customers and do their best to provide all the required assistance.
However, this strategy aimed at mobilizing customers to visit the showrooms. Consequently, immediately after the clients, customers, or dealers made an inquiry and their contact information was obtained by the American Standards database, they would soon receive a phone call or a postcard in their mail inviting them to visit the local showroom for further, more effective, and interactive personal assistance by the staff. Usually, the local showroom consultant would make the phone call thus giving the customer or dealer a sense of appreciation and interest by the company. This strategy came in handy in improving relationships with both dealers and customers. At the showroom, they would be engaged in discussions about bathroom designs and the American Standards products, usually culminating in a sale or contract in the case of dealers.
The desired response was that the public would become more aware of the products and services offered by the American Standards Company and the measurement of success or failure could be obtained by the amount of positive feedback to the communication outreach as well as invitations. In the short term, this could be deciphered from the number of clients and dealers who actually accepted the personal invitations and personally visited the local showrooms. In the end, the sales would determine whether the method of direct communication invested in was fruitful or not, because they would increase if useful or remain stagnant or even decline if this method of communication was not effective.
Due to this campaign, the American Standard Company would obtain critical information that it could use in the improvement of its products to match the customer’s and dealers’ expectations. Such information includes the contacts of the target group. Through the direct response communication strategy, most clients would leave their addresses and phone numbers through which the company could carry out networking operations including the obtaining of critical data in market surveys. Additionally, they could advertise their products more directly and at a lesser cost because they know whom to reach out to in the process.
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Another type of information that would be available on the company database after the campaign is constructive criticism. As the company interacted more personally with its target market, it could learn from their responses what it was not doing right and what they approved of, what they would prefer that it does not offer, and even how it could improve on other non–product related areas of its service provision to the public. Additionally, it could obtain its rating in the market amongst its competitors as the customers are bound to have preferences and this aspect could assist in the tweaking of its grading as a service provider in the field in which it specializes.
As shall be further discussed below, it is important to note that the data that is accumulated in the company’s database should be protected from predators that frequent the World Wide Web in search of system vulnerability. In a bid to promote user trust, it is prudent to ensure that customers offer their permission before their personal information is disseminated to other avenues.
If the “We want you to love your bathroom” campaign were to be recreated today, what forms of new media would you recommend for the marketing communications?
With the recent explosion of technological advancements the world has seen, it makes no sense to utilize the myriad of opportunities that the developments expose marketing communication to in the process of evolution. Print media, even though it is still a major disseminator of information, now trails social media. Social media gives scope that has never before been seen before. Its proponents like YouTube, Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google + among others have a far wider readership and with the advent of microprocessors, all these and more can be found on mobile gadgets. Various arguments have been advanced to justify the usage of electronic media, the most persuasive being its capacity to reach billions of users in record time and at almost no cost. Additionally, it saves the environment and thus could be a major booster in advancing the American Standards Company’s corporate social responsibility.
Facebook, as a social network, allows companies to create a fan page that users can subscribe to and the company can post articles, photos, and pictures for their consideration. LinkedIn is considered a professional social media platform and members procure their curriculum vitae for global consideration. Such a site would come in handy in filtering out the various dealers in the products offered by the American Standards Company in a most efficient manner. Additionally, social networks present an opportunity to reach vast varieties of clientele in different countries because this avenue provides the option of translation software that would otherwise require the company to form branches in the targeted areas and probably employ local staff that can communicate with the various consumers. Consequently, it saves on space and resources. The company could start by lodging a website in most of the international languages and thus virtually become a trans-national company without the associated hurdles of a need to acquaint itself with local legislation and regulations.
The technological revolution provides a myriad of result measurement tools that are far more effective, efficient, and accurate than traditional schemes. Examples include the Internet statistics or analytics such as the search engine optimization soft wares (SEO), website registrations, email campaign metrics, electronic news distribution services; for instance, PRNewswire, Businesswire, or PRWeb, Google alerts, and UTMs.
I would take full advantage of the massive exposure to be gained from social media. For example, a Twitter account with links to a website with regularly updated photo galleries of products offered by the American Standard Company. Regular updates on products on product development posted online would ensure a digital presence with a wide target. If statistics are to be believed, 67 percent of young and upwardly mobile adults own a smartphone. Marketing on these social media sites gives American Standard access to the right target group for its products. In addition, a subscription to a mailing list would serve to keep in touch with interested buyers. They would be kept posted on available products, new trends, and limitless information that would keep the buyer interested and browsing for more. In addition, setting up a website would make access of customers to the American Standard Company information easier. Customers can glean preferences, monitor customer trends, track customer satisfaction, and even make buying easier by setting up online browsing, ordering, and payment at the touch of a button.
This system also provides the company with the opportunity to get leads from various nationalities in the form of client feedback that would be enhanced by the instantaneous response option available such as “likes” and “comments” on Facebook. Additionally, by creating such an option, the company creates a hip and trendy image of itself that is attractive to clientele from all the demographics of age, social class, and education. Being technology savvy enhances the company’s ability to transact businesses overseas with much greater ease because e-commerce is the new way of doing business. It cuts out the intermediaries that would otherwise be siphoning a great percentage of the profit returns by requiring payment for their networks. With the present state in the post-modernist world, these are not necessary because the client needs only fill in their credit card information and click a button to purchase products. Delivery may be free as from a reasonable threshold and even in cases where it may cost the company, the costs could be shared.
However, it is important to note that the Internet has its own shortcomings, which is why scandals such as Sony’s hacking occurred. If the company decides to adopt an e-commerce option, it would be advisable to ensure that it puts in place all the possible protective and preventive measures to secure its system from cybercrimes. By fortifying itself, it shall promote consumer confidence in both the security and efficiency of its systems and this shall have the desired cumulative effect on financial returns as well as in promoting customer loyalty.