Marketing Communications Marketing communications are the means by which firms attempts to inform, persuade and remind consumers directly or indirectly about the products and brands that they sell. It represents the voice of the brand and are a means by which it can establish a dialogue and build relationships with consumers. The marketing communications mix consists of advertising, sales, promotion, public relations and publicity, personal selling, events and experiences and direct marketing.
TOYOTA, a first class global car manufacturing company, with headquarters in JAPAN is our focus in this discourse and we assume that the organisation is considering the adoption of a more customer focused business strategy. Consumers can be told or show how and why a product is sued, by what kind of person, and where and when, consumers can also team about TOYOTA who makes the product and what the firm and the brand stand for and consumers can be given an incentive or reward for trial for usage.
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A customer focused business strategy centres on the customer who is the KING in marketing. Micromodels of marketing communications concentrate on consumers’ specific responses to communications. All these models assume that the buyer passes through a congnitive, affective and behavioural stage. This learn feel do sequence is appropriate when the audience has high involvement with a product category perceived to have high differentiation, as in buying a vehcile like TOYOTA.
The role that marketing communication is required to currently fulfil within TOYOTA can be set at any level of the hierachy of effects model. Rossier and per cey identify four possible objectives viz: (a) Category need (b) brand awareness ( c) brand attitude and (b) Brand purchase intention. (a) Category need: A new to the world product such as a new model of TOYOTA would always begin with a communication objective of establishing category need.
In addition, as TOYOTA seeks to establishing category its products lines category, it desires to remove ( or satisfy) a perceived discrepancy between current motivational state and a desired emotional state. (b) Brand awareness_ ability to identify ( recognise or recall) the TOYOTA cars within the category of vehicles available for sales to consumers in the automobile manufacturing sector. Inasmuch as recognition is easier to achieve than recall, consumers are more likely to recognise TOYOTA models than recall the rand if asked to think of a particular brand of motor-cars from the FAR EAST-China, Japan, South Korea and India. Brand recall is vital to consumers outside of the TOYOTA dealers’stores and brand awareness provides a foundation for Toyotas brand equity in the auto-industry. (c) Brand Attitude: This evaluates TOYOTA brand with respect to its perceived ability to meet a currently relevant need. Withion the last three years, it was reported that some TOYOTA JEEP vehicles exported to Nigeria from JAPAN had serious mechanical faults on the wheels and braking system… nd the firms’sole representative in Nigeria, TOYOTA NIGERIA LIMITED launched an advertising campaign in 2010 as relevant brand needs was negatively oriented ( problem removal, problem avoidance, incomplete satisfaction as some buyers were not happy that the TOYOTA vehicles they bought were 100% excellent, normal depletion of new, old and potential customers who did not want to be seen driving malfunctioned TOYOTA jeeps around town. d) Brand purchase intention: Self- instructions to buy TOYOTA cars or to take purchase related action. Therefore, formulating the communications to achieve the desired response to TOYOTA brands will require solving three problems: what to say ( message strategy), how to say it (creative strategy) and who should say it (message source). II. TOYOTA is the world’s third largest car manufacturer and is the biggest Japanese car manufacturer.
It has the following strengths: it is reliable and has high quality image, innovative, its efforts on Research and Development “R&D is a first among equals; it has a just in time production outfit, and COROLLA, is its best selling car worth 20 million units sold worldwide to date while LEXUS brand isa very strong brand that competes favourably with Chrysler, Mercedez-Benz, BMW and other top range cars.
All the above qualities of its range of products are desired objectives of its marketing communications team, making its products customer friendly goods offered on a global basis in diverse markets worldwide across America, Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia. TOYOTA adopts both personal communications channels ( two or more persons communicating directly face to face, person to audience, through e-mail, over the telephone, instant messaging and its official website) and non-personal communications channels ( communications directed to more than one person and include media, events, sales promotion).
All these efforts are customer focused and geared towards creating brand awarenessfor its range of products; creating new strong knowledge through its sales representatives, company brochure, dealers group and websites for customers, ensuring through public relations that people in various occupations, age-groups ( youths, adults, old people and teenagers) and nations like its TOYOTA models-CAMRY, COROLLA, HIGHLANDER, TOYOTA 4 RUNNER, AVALON, CAMRYHYBRID, FJ CRUISER, LANDCRUISER, PRIUS, RAVA, SEQUOIA, SIENNA, VENZA and YARIS.
Inasmuch as vehicle manufacturers always desire to introduce new models into the automobile industry, TOYOTA’s management always strive through R;D to innovate ist products, always launching new, current, mobile cars on a yearly basis- just to be customer focused so that buyers will prefer its own brands over its competitiors own products. Toyota also seeks to convince and convict its target market to buy its products and actually make a purchase by offering Toyota brands at a premium, at low price or allowing customers to drive their or allowing customers to drive their cars around town before paying for them.
III: The importance of corporate and ethical responsibilities by TOYOTA in its marketing communications policy: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) also called social performance, sustainable responsible business, or corporate conscience is a form of corporate self regulation integrated into the business model of TOYOTA. Thus, it has developed fuel efficient, air pollution free cars which are socially friendly and reduce noise to the abrest minimum when TOYOTA vehicle owners drive their cars around.
The organisation has endowed or set up foundations wherein it offers scholarships to brilliant children of its employees across countries just to encourage the firm workers to put in their best efforts in its work-place. Hence, corporate social responsibility (CSR) or ethical business on TOYOTA’s side means taking account of the firm’s impact socially, environmentally, economically and in terms of human rights. CSR considers people external to TOYOTA. Therefore working in partnership with local communities and development groups in USA, JAPAN, NIGERIA, ENGLAND etc.
In addition, it involves socially responsible investment worth millions of US dollars in countries where it operates. Ethical businesses of TOYOTA demonstrate real concer n and respect for employees (training, development, rewards, work life balance, incentives and perks for its executives), for customers (safe, quality, value for money, products and good customer service offered in its car-service centres in Victoria Island, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Abuja, Kadun and Kano, all located in NIGERIA, Africa’s largest economy with over 140 million inhabitants) and for suppliers trade fair policies etc.
In addition, TOYOTA’s ethical businesses are green and show concern for environmental protection and sustainability and the company’s top management are conscious of carbon footprint, energy efficiency and recycling. Ever since the founding of TOYOTA Motor Corporation in 1937, the company has endeavoured to play an active role in the creation of a prosperous society. Toyota seeks to grow in symbosis with its stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, business partnerfs and society at large.
TOYOTA Fund for Europe (TTfE): provides seed funding and gives direction to social contributions within the organisation. Fundned projects include :Eco Driving training in Belgium, Iceland, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, Reforestation activities by Toyota Spain and Pan-European road safety courses for young people. ???TOYOTA’s announcement of a technical fix for its sticky gas pedals-which can lead to acceleration problems resulted in Toyotas recall of its TOYOTA Jeep in December 2009 from all the countries that it exported this brand into from Japan.
This was a great and noble effort on its part in order to foter a harmonious relationship with its teeming customers worldwide. On its official website, http://www. toyota-global. com/ sustainability/ corporate??? citizenship/ _TOYOTA states inter alia; ??? Corporate citizenship Principles and Policies??? Across six continents, TOYOTA has programs focused on improving life for everyone from rebuilidng areas of improverished communities and helping set national environmental policies to promoting intimtae activities which both educate and inspire the youth of the world.
Other corporate citizenship activities delve on Environment (from reforestation to environmental education, actively working to keep our planet green and healthy; Traffic Safety: It has set up programs with the goal of eliminating traffic deaths and injuries; Education??? to promote science and technology for the education of our future leaders. etc. (IV) To a very large degree and extent, TOYOTA reflects its customer-focused business strategy through its marketing communications mix, which consists f advertising, sales promotion, events and experiences, public relations, direct marketing and personal selling. Two important factors were considered by TOYOTA when it selected the communication for all its brands; especially TOYOTA PRIUS. The type of product ( high involvement and its stage in the product life cycle (introduction). These two factors influence the consumer/ customer buying behaviour and therefore the mix has to be adjusted to fit these condition. Advertising: is the major communication mix ingredient for TOYOTA campaigns.
It is a controllable, but expensive especially Television. It was used to increase awareness, create interest and inform about TOYOTA models globally, while customers/ consumers were reached by placing adverts in their target media. (ii) The use of TV, Print Internet and Outdoor adverts by TOYOTA on a global basis a huge success. Sales promotion: monetary incentives to buy, is most effective to trigger a decision or purchase. It was useful at the beginning of the product life cycle to increase acceptance or provoke a trial. TOYOTA is already the PRIUS model beneath its production cost.
In the UK, Powershift, a government backed agency, charged with encouraging cleaner fuels, will refund a 1000 pounds to the first 200 buyers of the Prius model. Direct mal: in the form of newsletters were useful for TOYOTA campaigs to create awareness ( pre-launch) and inform or offer for oppurtunity to book a test-drive in JAPAN, ENGLAND and NIGERIA. Already, Toyota has a database in place but can also buy further data. When the company targeted corporate buyers, it used direct mail. Press releases and press conferences: created positive public relations for TOYOTA over the last fifty decades.
These were sued for the launch and early stages of the TOYOTA PRIUS model, and other brands to raise awareness and create interest for Toyota’s new products, as well as educating the public about Toyota’s working and merits. Effectiveness was increased when PR appeared in media consumed by the target markets as in using the Guardian and ThisDay Newspapers to market TOYOTA vehicles in Nigeria. Latest models of Toyota vehicles were exhibited in trade fairs and exhibitions in the motor industry to initiate some buzz and prepare the markets in Abuja and Lagos (Nigeria).
Public relations- the development and maintenance of good relationships with different publics was utilized personal selling was viotal ion winning over both consumers and potential customers in the automobiles market. The Internal Communications in TOYOTA is a sine qua none and strategically executed and integrated by the company’s employees from top to bottom of the ladder. Media Strategy of TOYOTA: TV was a favourite medium of the company globally because of its wide reach and its high impact that is useful for showcasing a high impact product.
Identified television stations are CNN in USA; BBC One, BBC Two, ITV in the United Kingdom, NTA in Nigeria Print Adverts were placed in quality newspapers and weekend supplements ( back cover and second page with additional ads placed in car industry magazines: Daily Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times and Auto Express in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Outdoor billboards were placed in urbamn areas to reach a broad audience of car drivers, at busy juctions and on the street of major business centres in capital cities globally.
Finally, the INTERNET played a vital role where direct mails were sent as E-mails and this enabled buyers to buy TOYOTA brands on-line. V. All the marketing communications mix tools enumerated above can be above utilized/ sued to improve the way TOYOTA will convey the firm messages about corporate and ethical matters. The firm must communicate its commitment and progress in diversity to all who have a stake in the future of Toyota it must have respect for people and continuous improvement, it must make itself more accountable, be more committed to training and education programmes to acquire new skills and gain new understanding.
All these points must align with its desire to make a multi-billion dollar investment in diversity and align diversity with its mission and core business strategies iover the next ten years. The aforementioned points must be displayed on all its affiliates websites in every country where it is doing business. It must als seek to create successful dealer representation’s ownership interests so that there will be continuous loyalty on their side to the TOYOTA brand and organisation.
It behaves the firm to identify the target audience, determine its objectives and review these periodically, design its communications, select the channels it wants to adopt and establish the budget for effective communications across board in the global TOYOTA company-all these will make its communications efforts to be highly effective. A good blend of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, personnel selling, events and experiences and sales promotion will perform the trick for TOYOTA. CONCLUSION
Integrated marketing communications-which is a concept of marketing communications planning that recognises the added value of a comprehensive plan of TOYOTA must be in place. Such a plan evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications tools enumerated above and combines thehse disciplines to provide clarity, consistency and maximum impact through the seamless integration of messages. Personal and non-personal communications channels were combined by TOYOTA to achieve maximum impact and make it outstanding in the global automobile industry, making it a household name across the world.
REFERENCES ??? Don E. Shultz, Stanley I. Tannenbaum, and Robert F. Lauterborn, Integrated Marketing Communications: Puytting it together and Making it work ( Lincolnwood, IL:NTC Business Books, 1992) ??? Maxwell Ule, ” A Media Plan for “Sputnik Cigarettes”, How to Plan Media Strategy (American Association of Advertising Agencies 1957 Regional Convention, pp 41-52). ??? PhilipKotler and Kevin Lane Keller, Marketing Management, 12th Edition, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458,pp 536-563. ???www. toyota. com. ???Roland T. Trust, Advertising Media Models: A Practical Guide. (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1986).