The influence of marketing communications on the market leadership of Dangote Salt in an economic recession.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In 2016, President Muhamadu Buhari declared Nigeria was in a recession, an economic reality which was invariably going to affect most if not all aspects of the nation's economy. A nation is said to be in a recession when it experiences two successive quarters of negative growth as measured by the Gross Domestic Product, and during an economic recession, there are major reductions in activities across the country which are visible in areas such as employment, industrial production, real income, wholesale, retail, etc. (Investopedia)
As a result of this, to stay afloat, companies are prone to cut marketing and advertising spend, a trend which occurs not only in Nigeria but globally. However a research carried out by WPP, a global advertising agency shows that strategic marketing during a recession has the ability to enable companies and their brands better withstand the recession. In marketing strategically, innovations will be required by brands and companies so as to meet the needs of their consumers, in order to maintain their competitive advantage and profitability.
Although innovations will be required in the key aspects of the company's/brand's marketing which include price, place, product, promotion, process, physical environment and people, the area of focus of this study is centred on marketing communications which is an aspects of promotion. Marketing communications according to the Business Dictionary are “coordinated promotional messages delivered through one or more channels such as print, radio, television, direct mail and personal selling” (Business Dictionary) which are geared towards creating awareness of the brand, boosting brand recognition and sales. Marketing communications has also been defined as “all the messages and media you deploy to communicate with the market.” They include “advertising, direct marketing, branding, packaging, online presence, printed materials, PR activities, sales presentations, sponsorships, trade show appearances” etc (What is marketing communication (MarCom)?, 2013)).
Currently the leading player in the market with over 60% of the market share, Dangote Refined Salt is iodized and available in 250g, 500g and 1kg sachets (www.dangotesalt.com). Over the years, the brand as well as its parent company NASCON Allied Industries Plc have been involved in a number of corporate social responsibility activities such as giving gifts to Oregun High Schools, and Orphanage homes including Little Saints Orphanage and Babies Salam, Installation of street lights along Ikosi Road, Lagos and donation to the police, towards the purchase of a patrol vehicle. In the past, the brand has had minimal marketing communications activities with a few functional adverts geared towards informing the public about the availability of the brand and its various unique selling propositions. However, Dangote Salt has in recent years undergone changes in its packaging, introduced a brand ambassador, continuously expanded distribution, as well as embarked on a full scale integrated marketing communication campaign which involves seasonal tactical advertising and promotions (Easter, Sallah, Independence Day, etc) as well as television and radio commercials introducing the rebranded Dangote Salt, to mention a few.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Usually, during a recession, companies cut down on their marketing and advertising budget in a bid to reduce cost, save money and increase or sustain profitability. Companies in Nigeria which have practiced this include GSK and Guinness. However, it has been observed that in spite of the recession NASCON's flagship brand Dangote Salt rebranded and embarked on extensive marketing communications activities. This research therefore seeks to investigate if and how the marketing communications activities of Dangote Salt have influenced its market leadership in this category in the current economic recession.
• To determine the influence of marketing communications on the market leadership of Dangote Salt in an economic recession.
• To determine the extent to which marketing communications will influence the brand equity and salience of Dangote Salt
• To determine whether the use of marketing communication is a key strategy for achieving market leadership during a recession.
• To determine which elements of marketing communication will be effective in securing or sustaining Dangote Salt's brand equity and salience.
• In what ways does marketing communications influence Dangote Salt's market leadership in an economic recession?
• To what extent does marketing communications influence the brand equity and salience of Dangote Salt?
• Is the use of marketing communications by Dangote Salt a key strategy for achieving market leadership?
• Which of the elements of marketing communications will be effective in securing or sustaining Dangote Salt's brand equity and salience during an economic recession?
H0: Marketing communications has no influence on Dangote Salt's market leadership during a recession
H1: Marketing communications has an influence on Dangote Salt's market leadership during a recession.
H2: Marketing communications has no influence on Dangote Salt's market leadership during a recession.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
• This study will help companies (senior executives) generally and marketing departments (marketing directors/managers) specifically in formulating strategies for maintaining brand equity, salience and leadership, thereby improving their ability to survive during a recession.
• This study will provide an insight into effective and non effective marketing communications strategies to achieve brand equity, salience and market leadership even during a recession.
• This study will provide scientific evidence for the management of companies, marketing directors and agencies on why companies and their marketing teams should sustain or increase certain aspects of marketing communications during a recession. This study builds on previous works though they did specify the particular elements which should be modified during an economic recession this therefore seeks to address this gaps.
• Given the current economic dispensation, this is a timely research whose finding will serve as a guide in formulating winning marketing communications strategies.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This research will be carried out in Lagos State, Nigeria. It will entail an analysis of the various marketing communications of Dangote Refined and Iodized Salt within the last two years (2015 – 2017), and their influence on the brand's category leadership. It will involve a survey of marketing communications companies in Ojudu and Victoria Island, interviews with the Sales/Marketing heads of Dangote Salt, with offices located in Oregun and Ikoyi, and finally a cross section of the target market in Agege, Anthony and Lekki.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
• Influence: This refers to the power or ability to have an effect on a person, thing or situation or something (in this case marketing communications) which may or may not have the ability to do this. (Dictionary.Cambridge.org)
• Marketing communications: This refers to various communications and communication activities aimed at promoting a brand, in this case Dangote Refined and Iodized Salt. These activities include press adverting, radio advertising, online advertising, television advertising, promotional activities, sponsorships, the use of brand ambassadors, etc. (BusinessDictionary.com)
• Market leadership: This refers to the ability of a brand, product or company to control the largest percentage of total sales revenue (i.e. market share) of the market (i.e. a given industry).
• Economic recession: This refers to a general decline in the economy characterized by a reduction in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for two consecutive quarters i.e. six months. This period is marked by high unemployment, stagnant wages, fall in retail sales, production, etc. (Investopedia.com)
• The brand: This refers to a differentiated product. In this case, Dangote Refined and Iodized salt available in a sachet of 250g, 500g and 1kg as against other Dangote Salt variants.
In this chapter, a theoretical framework will be laid using a series of theories related to this discipline, thereby laying a foundation for this research. This will be followed by an empirical review, which will provide literatures on works similar to this study, of which, this serves to build upon. Methods of previous works will be analysed after which a review of other key concepts will be treated, leading up to the conclusion.
2.1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Four theories will be used during the course of this study because of their relevance to the topic. In some instances, the succeeding theory serves to build up on the preceding one i.e. Two Step Flow and Encoding and Decoding Theory, in other instances, the theory is related to a preceding theory i.e. Source Credibility and Two Step Flow. The last theory to be used is the Hierarchy of effects theory, a marketing communications theory that reveals how marketing communications influences consumer behaviour.
2.1.1 TWO STEP FLOW THEORY
This is an effect theory which provides a better understanding of how the mass media influences the decision making process of the audience. It was propounded by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet, in their work The People's Choice, a study based on the decision making process during a Presidential election campaign, in which the researchers discovered that the media did not have much of a direct influence on the voting behaviour of the people, but rather, the people were influenced by informal personal contacts in the form of opinions from opinion leaders, which invariably affected the audience's decision.
The theory therefore states that messages from the mass media move in two distinct stages, first from opinion leaders - individuals who pay close attention to the media and its messages, and receive its information. These opinion leaders interpret this information and pass it on in addition to the actual content of the media (“University of Twente: Two Step Flow Theory”, 2017). This information then moves through interpersonal communication channels to individuals who have had less exposure and are dependent upon others for information (Anaeto, Onabajo & Osifeso. 2012).
Kotcha (2017) states that when the opinion leaders receive the communication, they spread their interpretation (i.e. their opinion) of the media content to their audience. The term ‘personal influence' was coined to refer to the process of intervening between the media's direct message and the audience's ultimate reaction to that message (Momoh 2015). Such that, according to Postelnicu (2016), the researchers concluded that word-of-mouth transmission of information plays a more important role in the communication process, while the mass media has only a limited influence on most individuals. This theory therefore reveals that informal and interpersonal communication with relatives, friends, and members of one's social and professional serve as better ‘predictors of a person's behaviour rather than the person's media exposure.
This is in line with the conclusions made by Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz who further developed this theory in the book Personal Influence (1955), wherein they stated that people's reactions to media messages are mediated by their social environment, and the various groups within this social environment bear more influence on the audience's decision making process than messages from the mass media. Therefore, the audience should not be treated as a homogenous entity that reacts to messages uniformly (Postelnicu, 2016).
Kotcha (2017) notes that although the original theory talked about word-of-mouth conversations between the opinion leaders and other members of the public, in the present day, these conversations now happen among friends and followers on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whereby opinion leaders seek to use their own personal influence to sway their followers to their interpretation of a broadcast. Opinion leaders tend to have a strong influence on those they try to persuade. This is especially the case because these opinion leaders communicate on a personal level and people tend to communicate with those who are similar to them.
In relation to marketing communications, this theory is particularly important because it reflects how commercials and other messages are received in the real world (Egan 2007). For instance, when a consumer wants to buy an item, having been exposed to the commercial for a brand, the consumer still seeks opinions before making a final buying decision. Egan (2007), states that this is particularly the case when a customer wants to buy a product in which the features are complicated or expenditure is high. This becomes even more relevant during an economic recession whereby customers are more careful with buying decisions and spending in general. Therefore marketers can use opinion leaders and opinion formers to drive desire and increase purchase for their brand through recommendations from experts i.e. through Food Programmes, Cookery Books, or use none experts with large followership who serve as endorsers e.g. celebrities.
In spite of the relevance of this theory, it does have a number of shortcomings. For instance, some researchers have argued that it is an over simplification of the flow of information from the mass media to the mass audience, which has been revealed to have more than two steps. Also researchers have found evidence that shows that mass media messages does actually flow directly to individuals in its original form without necessarily being relayed by opinion leaders, especially with the advent of television and internet. Further research has also shown that people do actually rely much more on information received from the mass media than personal communication (Postelnicu, 2016).
Although this theory has been criticised, it remains relevant to this study, however, other theories will also be used in this study to make up for some of the gaps that have been identified with this theory.
2.1.2 ENCODING/DECODING THEORY
This theory was propounded by Stuart Hall in his work titled ‘Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse'. The theory suggests that the audience does not passively accept media messages but actively reads them, such that Hall proposed that there are four stages in the television communication process: production, use, circulation and reproduction. According to Pya (2013), the audience serves as the sender and receiver of the message such that “TV producers look to the audience's socio-culture to develop TV programs”. The audience's feedback then determines whether or not the message is understood or accepted, which invariably determines whether the programme created is continued or a new one is created. This process is especially important because a message needs to be meaningfully decoded to serve “its purpose to inform, persuade, entertain or instruct the receiver with cognitive emotional, ideological or behavioural consequences” (Pya 2013).
According to Castleberry (2017), this theory represents a paradigm shift from the effects theory of the media, and provided “criticisms that evaluate the ideological role of the media” as well helped to clarify the role of the audience especially the many ways in which they receive and decode meanings based on experiences. Hall (2008/1980) proposes that the audience can decode messages in three ways:
1. Dominant-hegemonic reading: This is when the receiver decodes the message as the encoder intended i.e. interprets the message as the sender intended/decodes and accepts the intended meaning of the sender and reproduces the intended behavioural effect of the television producer, advertiser, etc.
2. Negotiated reading: According to Fiske (2011/1987), theorist have noted that the “Television text is, like all texts, the site of a struggle for meaning”. Negotiated reading occurs when the text is “broadly received but only narrowly or partially shared with the producer” (Pya, 2017), because the audience interprets the message based on personal experiences, beliefs and views which are influenced by economic status, race, gender, etc. (Castleberry, 2017). Therefore in this case, the audience receives the message but modifies it to fit their values and opinions. This form of reading/interpretation is particularly important because messages can be polysemic in nature, which means that producers and advertisers must seek to factor in the various meanings that can be ascribed to their codes/messages so as to best communicate in a way that will elicit the behaviour/reaction they want.
3. Oppositional reading: Here, the reader who is outside the target audience (as a result their social situation), understands the preferred reading but rejects the message and rather receives their own alternative message, “bringing to bear an alternate frame of reference”, such that meanings received are at variance with the preferred meaning of the producer/sender/advertiser. To this end, Fiske (2011/1989), states that:
“... the work of popular culture, then provides the means both for the generation of oppositional meanings and for their articulation with that dominant ideology to which they are opposed”.
This theory had a major impact on communications studies, and is reflected in what is presently known as the communications process or model wherein the sender sends a message through a channel to the receiver who then decodes this, and then sends a feedback to the sender all, in the presence of noise, which may be internal or external. Also, this theory is particularly relevant to marketing communications as it provides an insight to how the consumer processes messages thereby serving as a guide in formulating communications that will elicit positive reactions e.g. brand acceptance, brand loyalty, increased purchase etc, while providing a rationale for why messages are not accepted or behavioural expectations are not met, such that messages and codes can be crafted or re-crafted by advertisers.
Yet, this theory does have its short comings. For instance, Moores (1993) in his work ‘Interpreting Audiences: The Ethnography of Media Consumption' raised the question about how to establish the ‘preferred reading' therefore he asks “where is it and how can it be found, can we be sure we didn't put it there ourselves while we were looking?”. Corner (1983) argues that it may not be easy to find media texts in which there is a preferred meaning within a plurality of meanings. Wren Lewis (1983), takes a different possible, by arguing that: “the fact that many decoders will come up with the same reading does not make that meaning an essential part of the text”. Myers (1983) in Chandler (2014) also notes that it may be leading to search for a determinant of a preferred reading mainly within the form and structure of the text, and within the context of advertising, states that:
“...The openness of connotative codes may mean that we have to replace the notion of \'preferred reading\' with another which admits a range of possible alternatives open to the audience.”
Building on Hall's work, Morley (1992) introduces the issue of contexts and topics in the decoding strategies of individuals and states further that when interpreting the readings of viewers of the mass media texts, focus should not only be restricted to agreement i.e. acceptance or rejection, but should also include comprehension, relevance and enjoyment. Morley also proposed the use of semiotics and denotative meanings of terms to arrive at adequate interpretation of codes, though other recent scholars have proposed factoring both the connotative and denotative meanings in creating messages (by the sender) and in interpreting them (by the receiver).
2.1.3 SOURCE CREDIBILITY
This theory is based on the assumption that a communication from a right or high credibility source can increase the effectiveness of the message, such that according to Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2012), if an effective or credible source is used to speak for an idea or product the propaganda device of testimonial is being used. This in effect has the ability to create more opinion change or better persuade as revealed by the experiment carried out by Hovland and Weiss (1955) who designed this theory, such that a message communicated by a source which is perceived as being an expert and trustworthy will generally be believed and accepted to a large extent. For a source or speaker to have persuasive ability, the following factors should necessarily be present: trustworthiness, professionalism or competence, dynamism and objectivity (Whitehead 1968). Another factor which is worth noting is physical attractiveness as studies have shown that attractive communicators are usually more successful in convincing their audience than unattractive ones, which explains the use of attractive models in commercials and brand communications in general (changingminds.org). In addition to these, a source that is well known and celebrated, such as celebrities, industrialist, etc, has the ability to influence opinions beliefs, attitudes and behaviour (Belch and Belch, 2001), based on the notion that such information is accurate.
Egan (2007) reveals that a combination of these factors as well the different layers of trust i.e. institutional trust (based on qualification), character-based-trust (trust that is dependent on the character of the individual which is a key factor in personal selling) and process-based-trust (which refers to reputation built up over time) determine how a message is received and eventually believed.
Therefore in communicating brand messages, brands sometimes rely on the pedigree of their parent company, experts which are used to endorse brands, celebrities which serve as brand ambassadors, etc all with a view of increasing the degree to which the audience accepts and trusts what the brand or organization tells them.
A major critique of the source credibility theory is its scientific nature. The theory has been disproved a number of times by researchers thus making it highly falsifiable. Yet, this theory still holds true in many situations though not absolutely so. In this regard, Erdogan (1999) states that source credibility plays a key role in process of celebrity selection, but Lafferty and Goldsmith (1999) also revealed the corporate credibility and endorser credibility determined whether or not consumers purchased a product.
2.1.4 HIERARCHY OF EFFECTS
This is a theory that shows how adverting works. It represents how advertising influences the behaviour of the consumer towards making a purchase decision about a product or service (Investopedia) This theory assumes that the buyer passes through different stages before purchase (Egan, 2007).
Although a series of models have been created to represent the effect of marketing communications, for the purpose of this study, focus will be on the DAGMAR model by Colley (1961). DAGMAR is an acronym for defining advertising goals for measuring advertising results, and serves as a formula for setting communications based objectives. This model shows how advertising and various brand communications helps the consumer to move from awareness to comprehension, to conviction and finally to purchase.
According to the DAGMAR model, the communication process involves informing an unaware customer so they become aware of a product, then sufficient information about the product and its benefit is provided to achieve comprehension. The communication then proceeds to convince the customer about how the product can meet their needs or why it is better than competition, thereby “moulding the audience's behaviour” (MBA notes) towards being favourably disposed to the brand. Finally, the communication encourages the consumer to take action which is usually to purchase the product.
A key flaw in this theory is that it is sometimes difficult to determine which aspect of sales is specifically as a result of advertising, though research has shown advertising to be a key driver of sales. Also, it has been noted that the buyer does not always pass through this logical sequence of learning – feeling and doing that leads to purchase. In addition to this, research has revealed alternative effects hierarchy whereby the buyer passes through alternate paths leading to purchase depending on the type of product being purchased, level of involvement and information needed. Egan (2007) notes that this model as well as others in the hierarchy of effects theory does not take into account the possibility of interaction between stages. Finally the post-purchase experience is not factored into this model.
Finally, the different stages leading up to the purchase decision, the following relevant marketing communication tools have been established:
Learning: Advesirting and Public Relations
Feeling: Advertising, Public Relations and Personal Selling
Doing: Personal Selling and Sales Promotion.
2.2. METHODOLOGICAL LITERATURE REVIEW
Some literatures have been studied during the course of this research with an emphasis on the methodologies used during the course of their studies.
Baeva (2011) whose focus was on how brand strategy and brand communications can contribute to building brand equity used the Qualitative research method. The qualitative research method according to Parasuraman (1991) involves the collection, analysis and interpretation of data which cannot be meaningfully quantified that is summarised in the form of numbers. The qualitative research method enabled the study of small samples which proved useful in studying in detail the firm chosen, since the data collected could not be analysed in the form numbers and non-structured questions were utilized during the course of the research, the qualitative method as viewed as effective. For secondary data, the quantitative method was used, which was collected to provide evidence that the said brand was perceived as strong and had high brand equity, the data utilized was based on a previous study: “Brand Equity Tracking Survey – Office Paper 20092.” conducted by a research company - Opticom International Research AB titled. Therefore, both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used. For the qualitative research, which was a case study, collection of primary data was through interviews with the company's brand manager. For the quantitative research, secondary data was obtained from official company documents, reports, press releases, archives and surveys by independent organizations.
The type of research used was exploratory in nature, and its objective was providing insights into the problem situation faced by the researcher (Parasuraman, 1991). This form of research was used because this was a case whereby there was a need to define the problem more precisely, identify relevant courses of action as well as gain further knowledge so the approach can be developed. According to Baeva (2011), “the exploratory research seems to be the right option for this thesis since it enabled a detailed, in-depth analysis of precisely defined problems”.
This case study method was used, which involves the collection of evidence through documentation, archival records, interviews, participant observation etc (Yin, 2003). This method was viewed as appropriate by the researcher because it allows for an understanding and examining in depth, the important steps in creating a strong brand, especially since case studies focus on a specific subject and seeks to reveal how and why things occur. However, Hamel, Dufour and Fortin (1993) noted that the case study has been faulted as a result of its lack of representativeness as well as a lack of rigor in the process of collection, construction and analysis of the research materials that give rise to the study”.
For Virtanen (2011), the Qualitative approach and deductive reasoning was utilised, while telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews were used to collect primary data. To this end, the researcher argues that since a major purpose of qualitative data is to increase knowledge about the actions of the subject, it is applicable to the research. On the issue of whether the qualitative research method is sufficient in collecting and producing information on a research topic, Virtanen (2011), states that the “qualitative methods have been approved also in the field of business sciences” based on the works of Alasuutari 1995, Metsämuuronen 2005, Silverman 2006 and Yin 200.
The case study method was also adopted in this study. Primary data was collected through unstructured interviews with the CEOs, marketing managers and other employees dealing with marketing related activities of the companies, which served to add a level of variation to the study. Secondary data was collected through a process of selecting articles and columns from the topic, and an analysis of financial statistics from the economic situation, which were retrieved from online sources. The secondary data served to support the collection of the primary data as the information gained was used in the preparation for interviews and ensured a focus that helped to ensure the most important information was unravelled.
2.3 EMPIRICAL LITERATURE REVIEW
This section will focus on various literatures related to this area of study. It should be noted however that because of the nature of this research topic, most scholarly works identified (so far) are more business than communication oriented.
Adjagbodjo (2015) in his work ‘Aligning Sales Promotion Strategies With Buying Attitudes in a Recession' opined that managers do not have an effective strategy for aligning the buying attitudes of consumers with sales promotion strategies in a recession and through his work sought to determine the most effective strategies for improving sales and sustaining business during a recession. For the theoretical framework, the theories of sales promotion, consumer behavioural metrics, price reductions and strategy in a competitive environment were used to ground and complement the research. Findings revealed that the price discount strategy had the highest impact on buying attitudes on consumers (both male and female). Adjagbodjo (2015) therefore concluded that “the most effective strategy for aligning sales promotions with buying attitudes in a recession is price discount”. It was implied that price discounts have immerse implications for business practice by increasing sales during a recession, which could bring about “positive social change” such as lifestyle improvements as well as reduction in crime, poverty and unemployment.
This work reveals the need for marketing managers to implement strategic promotions that will align with the buying behaviour of customers during a recession; however it does not focus on the communications aspect of promotions, which is the crux of this current research. Yet the aspect of consumer behaviour in a recession is important in that marketing communications seeks to positively influence consumer behaviour towards a brand so as to sustain or increase sales. For Adjagbodjo (2015), although customers are sensitive to their economic situation as a result of the recession, this offers an opportunity for brands and companies to key into with the right promotional strategies so as to guarantee their survival.
Virtanen (2011) in ‘Impact of Recession to Companies Marketing Activities' sought to find out if companies will modify their marketing activities because of the recession so they can better survive. The result of the study showed that an economic recession was not a major threat to the companies, and studies carried out on the case companies indicated that marketing strategies were not changed as a result of the recession. In this case, the main influencing factors for the companies included the industry, marketing strategy, general strategy and nature of products and customers. It is interesting to note that on the companies sampled, the recession was not seen as a reason to increase marketing activities, as the research revealed that the recession had only minor effects on them. This Virtanen (2011) affirmed is at variance with earlier studies which showed “clear evidence that companies which increase marketing activities during recession will face the increase of market share and sales”. Yet, this study concludes that there was some evidence to show that increasing marketing activities can impact positively on the performance of companies during a recession as one of the case companies did face an increased turnover and sales during the years it increased marketing activities.
This study focused on the marketing mix and different marketing activities of companies, and how the recession affected these. It offered a broad study on how companies reacted to the recession and to an extent, on the need for strategies. However, the communications aspect of promotions was not treated in much detail, which is why in this current research, the researcher is building upon the work of Virtanen (2011), by finding out if and how marketing communications influences a brand's category leadership during a recession, and what mix (if any) are best used during a recession.
Baeva (2011) in ‘Strong Brand: How Brand Strategy and Brand Communication Contribute to Brand Equity The Case of Navigator', studied how an effective brand strategy and communication help to build brand equity thereby creating a strong brand. The study showed various elements to be essential in creating strong brands; however, the first area of focus was on the product and its features. An important element was building a quality product with unique features i.e. high performance products with incomparable results as research in this regard showed that customers valued product quality and performance above price. Also, building an innovative product through regular investment in launching new products so as to meet the needs of different customer segments i.e. the company not only makes printing paper but also exercise books and envelope thereby expanding its product range. Rebranding strategy i.e. renewing and renovating strategies that serve to refresh and sustain the brand, and in this case modernise the brand by developing a new image that came with an updated and more appealing packaging thereby creating a clear sense of the brand's distinctiveness.
However, strategy and brand communications were considered compulsory conditions and essential in building brand equity, as a Opticom International Survey 2009 revealed that “high levels of brand awareness have high brand equity index”. The brand strategy provides a direction for the brand and builds a competitive advantage through the use elements such as brand name (association with a leading brand), logo (which enhances brand awareness and helps brand associations), colours (this have been associated with reliability performance, leadership, prestige, consistency etc) and brand values (emotional benefits delivered to customers such as confidence and motivation in addition to the core value of performance, leadership and innovation). While an effective brand communication that combines the various aspects of integrated brand promotion such as advertising, events, direct marketing, web-marketing etc serves to draw the customers closer to the brand thereby creating a relationship with them, boosting brand awareness as well as reminding customers about the product. Baeva (2011) concludes that “creative and innovative brand communication is a way to boost brand awareness and thus build brand equity, which from its side is a way to build a strong brand”.
Although this study does not focus on marketing during a recession, it does capture the importance of marketing communications in creating and sustaining category leadership, and so provides a basis for and relevance in conducting this current study.
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