Marketers rarely rely on only one promotion method. They make use of two or more methods to accomplish promotion and marketing objectives. When a firm makes use of more than one promotion method for one product, the promotion methods are used to constitute the promotion mix for that product.
For example, while TV spots, newspaper and fashion magazine advertisements, and attractive festival displays at the authorized retail shops constitute the promotion mix of textile fabrics specialized industry magazines and participation in the national and international exhibition of clothing materials and cosmetics goods may constitute the promotion for women generally.
The promotion function being linked with the ever-changing market environment is a dynamic function. The promotion mix, therefore, acquires the dimension of dynamism and varies from product to product over a period of time.
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Quite similar to the problems faced by a marketer in the determination of the optimal marketing mix are the problems faced in the determination of the promotion mix.
The task involved is rather more complex due to the cross-substitutability of the various promotion methods (i.e. each method is capable of achieving what the other method may achieve) thereby making the measurement of promotional effectiveness more difficult.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, the factors mentioned below act as the major determinants of the promotion mix:
- Type of product
- Nature of market
- Stage of product in its life–cycle
- Available budget, and
- Company policy.
1. Type of Product
In terms of the promotion task involved, the type of product is the major influence on the promotion–mix.
For example, a low-priced, frequently purchased, consumer convenience item, say a toilet soap, a brand of toothpaste or a cigarette will require that repeat messages influencing and reminding the existing consumers, and persuading the new consumers, be used in a mass manner and at a high frequency.
Newspaper and magazine advertisements, TV spots, and Cinema Slides, an offer of incentives to consumers, and the organization of contests will, therefore, constitute the ‘promotion mix’ of such consumer goods.
Now let us think of an industrial product, say a particular purpose machine tool washing machine, which has a high unit value, is technical in nature, is purchased in-frequently, and requires demonstration and conviction before it gets sold.
Personal selling, quite obviously, becomes indispensable for such a product along with organizing product demonstrations and exhibitions, holding seminars, etc.
These then constitute the promotion mix in the case of an industrial good with newspaper advertising playing only the limited role of keeping the public informed about the company’s activities and accomplishments. Publicity, however, to the extent that it projects the desired image of the company, plays a more important role.
2. Nature of Market
The locational characteristics of the customers, intensity of competition in the marketplace and the requirements of wholesalers and retailers influence the promotion mix relating to the product in their own way.
For example, if the target audience of a consumer product is both large as well as widely dispersed in different parts of the country such as soft drinks like Coca–Cola, Pepsi–Cola, and double cola, advertising, and sales promotions emerge to be both more effective and economical promotional methods than the others.
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This is why advertising and sales promotions are so dominant among consumer goods companies. Personal selling also has a role to play among consumer goods companies. Still, it is limited mainly to wholesalers and retailers who receive greater focus for activities such as pushing inventories, conducting displays, etc.
3. Stage in Product Life Cycle
The promotion mix changes with the movement of the product from one stage to the other in its life cycle.
For example, when the product is in the introduction and early growth stages, and the tasks involved are that of building and motivating trials of the product, the promotion mix comprises publicity, informative advertising, consumer sales promotions, and trade deals.
Later, as the product reaches the maturity stage, and goals of maintaining brand loyalty and creating brand preferences become more important, aggressive brand advertising and dealer promotions become the key components of the promotion mix.
4. The Available Budget
Each method of promotion has certain costs associated with it. The level at which each promotion method is to be used and the selection of the promotion mix is dependent on the promotion budget of the firm.
Firms with small promotional budgets have to be content with more localized area activity, using dealer displays, wall writings, personal selling, and other less sophisticated methods.
It needs to be emphasized here that the minimum threshold level must always be exceeded for the promotion function to be effective.
5. Company Policy
In the final analysis, an aggressive consideration of the above four determinants of the company’s own marketing and promotion policy determines the mix.
Important factors here include the conviction of the top management in the role of promotion and its various components, the product marketing company strategy, and the type of corporate image it wants to project.
For example, a company even under the seller’s market might still believe in keeping a high profile in public and thus may go for extensive publicity and advertising programs.
Yet another company in the same industry may rely more on personal selling, and continue to grow by maintaining its promotions at a low key.
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