by Dr Mary Boyd, Course Director BSc (Hons) Marketing, Ulster Business School
The 21st century has seen the dawn of a new marketing era, one which is influenced by economic circumstances, technology innovation and development and social awareness. We live in an ever changing world of increased economic uncertainty, increased digital communication and an increase in corporate social responsibility.
Marketing in a time of recession can very often result in organisations becoming involved in reactive promotions focusing on price cuts. In many ways this can result in inadvertently devaluing the very facets of the brand that were of value to their customers. It has never been more important for businesses to engage with customers, to generate brand values and subsequently generate desirable consumer behaviour. Companies need to know their customers and be aware of the attachment the consumer has with the brand.
The mission of marketing should be to build a powerful brand image in the customer's mind. In essence, marketing is the most essential part of any organisation in that it establishes customer needs and wants and strives to meet these through appropriate communication strategies.
Marketing is a significant dimension of any business in today’s highly competitive world in identifying opportunities that can determine organisational success. Marketing communications is an audience centred activity which needs to have strategic focus. An integrated marketing communication approach is essential to any marketing campaign. This needs to be customer orientated, personalised and technology enabled. Organisations need to be able to engage with their customers in an increasingly digital environment where there is a proliferation of media. The customer is no longer part of a large passive audience but one which is now interactive and participating in experiences and communities.
Word-of-mouth has always played an important part in successful marketing communications, but social media makes this method even more important. Consumers have the ability to interact with millions of people in the 21st century, in sharp contrast to the days when information was shared over the garden fence. Customers can now collaborate, share, cocreate and discuss, thereby incorporating a word of mouth communication which can have a powerful influence over the buying decision process.
The 21st century consumer is also more aware of corporate social responsibility where organisational reputation and the good of the community are important to them. Honesty, integrity, transparency, citizenship and fairness are desirable attributes in any organisation in light of many recent, high profile cases.
An emphasis on ethical practices, shopping locally, buying Fair Trade products, recycling and concern for the environment are but a few of the factors that have come to the fore in recent years. There are new consumer capabilities and major societal factors at play in the 21st century. Marketers need to be aware of these, using more direct, personalised communication activities with not only an effective combination of communication tools and media but also meaningful content and messages.
Organisations now need to produce a fresh and thoughtful marketing approach and engage with their audience as people not consumers. In this current climate of economic uncertainty, increased connectivity and social awareness, organisations above all need to be utilising the main elements of effective and integrated marketing communication in influencing the consumer. They need to be able to differentiate their brand so that it is perceived to be different to their competitors, they need to reinforce the message so that they remind and reassure customers about their brand, they need to inform the target market and make customers aware of the brand’s existence and attributes and they need to persuade the consumer and thereby influence consumer buying decision making and develop brand loyalty.
The rise of focused, personalised, and noteworthy marketing communication heralds the dawn of a new marketing frontier, one in which marketers must be equipped to engage meaningfully and coherently with their target audiences.
The Ulster Business School as a Faculty within the University of Ulster delivers high quality Marketing programmes designed to produce high calibre Marketing graduates that have the unique skills, attributes and abilities that make them valuable assets to their employers in the 21st century. We firmly believe that our graduates are the future of marketing in Northern Ireland.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional or other advice.
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