These days, consumers are being targeted with countless promotional messages by the marketers through a wide variety of marketing channels such as radio, television, magazines, and billboards. The competition has made it difficult for marketers to effectively reach their targeted audience which is why Red Bull has resorted to innovative marketing strategies (The Times 100).
Promotion is one of the four components of marketing mix. There are three major types of promotion of which the first one is above-the-line promotion and includes advertising. Above-the-line promotion involves sending messages through mass media to a wide audience such as through television, radio, and internet. The second type of promotion is top of mind which is concerned with strengthening the position of the product within a particular product category in the consumers’ minds. The third type is below-the-line promotion which includes all other forms of promotion including live entertainment events and sponsorships (The Times 100).
Promotion is sometimes also classified as either pull marketing or push marketing. Pull marketing makes use of customers spreading positive word about the product or the brand such as word of mouth (WOM) marketing while push marketing involves marketer taking direct control of the promotion such as advertising. Red Bull has effectively used pull marketing to distinguish itself in the market place and build a loyal customer following. The company manages several marketing strategies that encourage consumers or media to spread word about the brand. One marketing strategy is Red Bull Wings Team in which student representatives distribute Red Bull products to fellow students at events. Similarly, Student Brand Manager Program involves student representatives organizing brand-sponsored events on campus. Red Bull Bedroom Jam encourages aspiring musicians to broadcast their performance live from their bedrooms and a similar program titled Red Bull Reporter provides opportunities to aspiring writers, film-makers and presenters to display their work at Red Bull events (The Times 100).
It is important for companies to evaluate the effectiveness of their promotional activities though it may not always be directly possible such as in the case of WOM. Red Bull understands the importance of evaluation promotional activities and measures the impact of promotional activities wherever possible. For example, the company monitors the editorial coverage of events it sponsors and gathers data on the social media such as Facebook and Twitter (The Times 100).
The promotional element of the marketing mix is concerned with promoting the products/services to new customers and/or increasing brand loyalty among existing customers. In other words, the aspect of the marketing mix ensures that the targeted market is aware of the product/service or how it may help their meet their needs and desires. This is even more important when the competition between market players is intense because consumers have several choices. The promotional elements is also designed to provide information to the consumers that will increase the probability of them engaging in actual purchase such as information about distribution channels, pricing, and product features. Promotional element of marketing mix includes everything from crafting the message and choosing the marketing channels (MindTools) to evaluating the impact of the promotional activities.
When the market is crowded with a large number of players who are targeting the same audience, noise is created because customers are bombarded with several messages that are similar in content. As a result, it becomes difficult for them to remember individual messages that may be coming from different marketers but have similar characteristics. As a result, they provide little benefit to the marketers and result in poor return on promotional expenditure. Thus, it is important to develop promotional strategies that are different from thousands of messages being targeted at customers. Innovative promotional strategies can cut through the noise and help increase brand awareness which may be why Red Bull has been successful because its promotional messages are unlike others and do not get lost in the noise.
Pull marketing is better than push marketing in targeting customers because it is more focused and often involves extensive research into the characteristics of targeted audience. One of the major benefits of pull marketing is that it engages the customers (ImFORZA) and increases their involvement and emotional connection to the brand, thus, strengthening their brand loyalty. Pull marketing is often targeted at customers with similar characteristics and positive experiences by the members of the targeted groups also lead to WOM. WOM is beneficial in increasing sales because people tend to trust the recommendations of those whom they trust or share interests with. Since pull marketing, unlike push marketing, doesn’t involve shooting messages randomly at a wide audience, the return on marketing expenditure may be better in the long term. By strengthening emotional connection between the products and the customers, the company may also enjoy greater pricing power and, thus, higher profit margins.
Companies have different promotional options available to them and each can be adapted to meet current and changing expectations of consumers in today’s fast-changing society. As far as above-the-line promotion is concerned, TV and radio have been traditional marketing channels for quite a long time in the electronic media but internet is fast replacing their importance as an advertising medium. One of the effects of the internet has been consumers’ greater appetite for product information. Companies can use internet, specifically, social media to identify consumers’ information needs as well as brand expectations and address them accordingly. Similarly, customers now have expanded views on total product experience which go beyond mere consumption of the actual product. Customers want brands to reflect their lifestyles. Companies can employ below-the-line promotional strategies by continuing to identify the interests of the targeted audience to maintain emotional connection. These interests may include popular entertainment and sports celebrities, events, and recreational activities that are popular regionally. Today’s fast-paced society has increased the importance of understanding consumers and staying in touch with their lifestyles, thus, companies should devote considerable resources to marketing research.
ImFORZA. Pull Marketing vs Push Marketing. 30 September 2013 <http://www.imforza.com/blog/pull-marketing-vs-push-marketing/>.
MindTools. The Marketing Mix and 4 Ps. 30 September 2013 <http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_94.htm>.
The Times 100. “Red Bull | Engaging consumers through word of mouth marketing.” Case Study. n.d.