Talking to Heidi: Choosing the Right Communications Mix case study

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As part of the formal assessment for the BA (Hons) Business you are required to submit a Marketing Communications assignment. Please refer to your Student Handbook for full details of the programme assessment scheme and general information on preparing and submitting assignments.

Students will be required to analyse the case and respond to a range of questions based on both the case study and their understanding of the theory and practice of Marketing Communications.

Learning outcomes

  1. Compare and contrast different aspects of communication theory and practice.
  2. Critically evaluate and select appropriate channels of communication for marketing
  3. Apply advertising theory to practical situations.
  4. Utilise marketing research to make effective decisions.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of international aspects of marketing

Assignment Tasks

With reference to the information in the Talking to Heidi: Choosing the Right Communications Mix case study (shown below) and from other sources you feel would be useful, answer the following questions.

Notes:

–   Answer all three questions.

–   Word limit is 3,000 words in total (i.e. for all questions)

–   All questions carry equal marks.

  1. You are a cosmetics company aiming a new revolutionary skin cream at Heidi compare and contrast what would you need to consider before deciding on your choice of communications mix? You should take into account relevant theory in formulating your response.

(Third of the Total Marks: 33.3%) (Learning outcomes tested: All)

  1. Critically evaluate and develop a communications campaign for this skin cream aimed at Heidi, taking account of the considerations you have identified in question one what tools do think would be most appropriate and why? You should consider what international aspects need to be taken into account in formulating your response.

(Third of the Total Marks: 33.3%) (Learning outcomes tested: All)

  1. Outline the benefits of undertaking an integrated marketing communications campaign with Heidi rather than just using tools in isolation.

(Third of the Total Marks: 33.3%) (Learning outcomes tested: All)

Talking to Heidi: Choosing the Right Communications Mix

Yasmin Sekhon

University of Bournemouth

So what does Heidi mean? Heidi is an acronym for young women who are highly educated, independent, degree-carrying individuals. This segment is growing and has the potential to spend a lot of money. Why is that? It is because they are part of the ‘me’ generation and make decisions based on their own individual wants and needs. As a newspaper article revealed “These single-but-not-sad disco dollies are brand sluts and wear masstige fashions (mass products with designer prestige — such as Stella McCartney at H&M). They’re also valuephrenics — they scrimp some of the time, but will splash out on a Prada bag (because they’ve been brandwashed)”.

So what is the best way to communicate to this segment? A group that has to balance work and play and doesn’t have a lot of time to waste. Whatever message you wish to communicate it needs to be to the point and let the Heidis out there know exactly what you are trying to say.

A typical Heidi is aged between 25-35 years and loves to socialize. To target this group successfully the right communications mix needs to be used. The use of television to target messages might be a futile activity if Heidi is out with friends in the evening. If Heidi does stay in, what will she be watching, an episode of the Hills on MTV or Desperate Housewives on Channel 4? Effectively communicating the message to Heidi means organizations need to consider the key ‘touch points’ they have with her.

Television advertising at the right time, in between the right programme may be one part of the communications mix. However there are other communications tools that could potentially be more effective and more personal.

The use of email is another communications tool that could be used. Imagine Heidi at work. During her lunch or coffee breaks she needs to find the perfect pair of shoes for her night out and time is of the essence. A potential way to communicate your campaign or any offers you might have is to email her. Once the email arrives she is able to examine all the shoes on offer without even moving from her desk. She is able to find out your product offerings, the cost, the delivery time, the colour and shoe sizes available. This is a more effective and more personal tool than advertising which is a non-personal form of communication and the message cannot always be as individualized as Heidi would want it.

Another key consideration is that Heidi buys from a range of organizations, from the high street to more exclusive shops where top designer brands are sold. This means that Heidi is not necessarily brand loyal but will purchase depending on where she is going, with whom and when. When going to the gym, the high street will suffice for clothes. However if Heidi is letting her hair down on Saturday night and will be visiting a cocktail bar, followed by a dance in the night club, branded clothes and accessories are a must. This has implications to the marketer as Heidi’s ever changing needs must be fulfilled and so the message has to be tailored accordingly. However, more importantly, the medium through which the message is conveyed is key. The use of print advertising particularly fashion magazines will be referred to by Heidi when making these decisions. She will be thinking about what is trendy, what is most fashionable, what the celebrities are wearing, and this will impact on her own purchases. The use of magazines is one method which could also be integrated with a direct response campaign. These integrated methods would ensure that the business can reach Heidi with its message. Furthermore, by using direct response media, this will mean that direct contact is also being made with Heidi, thus creating a dialogue with her.

Things to consider when deciding on the ultimate communications mix for Heidi:

  • Her disposable income is between £30,000 – £40,000;
  • Heidi is happy to make use of store cards, credit cards and loans;
  • Heidi is marrying later: The average age that women marry increased to 33.6 years for women (Office of National Statistics, 2007);
  • Social networking is a big thing, especially the use of Facebook and Bebo. Another equally important consideration is that Heidi is independent. What are the implications of this to the marketer? Firstly if Heidi is making her own decisions she will also have full control over her finances and so in turn what she consumes. It is likely that even as an independent young woman her reference groups may be a mixture of friends and work colleagues. Her wider reference groups may consist of celebrities and fashion models that might also inspire her consumption. This then influences an organizations choice of marketing mix since whatever tool is chosen it needs to be endorsed by the right celebrity and the right celebrity is forever changing.

All of these factors are vital and will impact on Heidi’s decision-making when choosing what product to buy or what service to use. So an integrated campaign, that can make use of a number of communications tools, will have the most impact and will be noticed by the busy but ever trendy Heidi.

In summary, when choosing the right communications mix for Heidi it is not a straightforward task. This young, savvy, independent and career-minded target group knows what it wants. Heidis are not going to be led aimlessly by marketers and so traditional forms of communication may not be as effective. In fact, in today’s marketing arena where media is more fragmented and the choices are varied they will decide on what they respond to or not and it could be that more personal communications and the use of advocacy is an important consideration. Without it, the marketer could be missing out on a very lucrative market that has potential to grow.

Source: Yasmin Sekhon. (2010). Talking to Heidi: Choosing the right communication mix. In: Baines, P. and Fill, C. Marketing. 2nd ed. Oxford: OUP Oxford. p435-7.

Guidelines:

You MUST underpin your analysis and evaluation of the key issues with appropriate and wide ranging academic research and ensure this is referenced using the Harvard system. The My Study Skills Area contains the following useful resources; Study

Skills Guide (containing a Harvard Referencing section) and a Harvard Referencing Interactive Tutorial. You must use the Harvard Referencing method in your assignment.

Additional notes:

Students are required to indicate the exact word count on the title page of the assessment.

The word count excludes the title page, executive summary, reference list and appendices. Where assessment questions have been reprinted from the assessment brief these will also be excluded from the word count. ALL other printed words ARE included in the word count. Printed words include those contained within charts and tables. See ‘Word Count Policy’ on the homepage of this module for more information.

Assignments submitted late will not be accepted and will be marked as a 0% fail.

Your assessment should be submitted as a single Word (MS Word) or PDF file. For more information please see the “Guide to Submitting an Assignment” document available on the module page on iLearn.

You must ensure that the submitted assignment is all your own work and that all sources used are correctly attributed. Penalties apply to assignments which show evidence of academic unfair practice. (See the Student Handbook which is on the homepage of your module and also in the Induction Area).

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