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The Effectiveness of Marketing Campaigns in the Retail Industry

Info: 13674 words (55 pages) Dissertation
Published: 3rd Jan 2022

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Tagged: MarketingRetail


This research sets out to analyse the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in the retail sector. The aims of this project are to understand consumers’ perceptions towards marketing campaigns and how best retailers big and small cater to those needs. Also, the research aims to understand how ethnicity, age and gender effect the choice and size of campaign.

The project flows from a literature review which covers many of the existing marketing campaign styles through to how the success of these campaigns is measured. Using secondary sources and existing research the researcher chose to use qualitative data as with this topic mass amounts of quantitative data is available yet can be misleading. The qualitative data came from the analysis of the top nine most effective retail marketing campaigns as defined by the WARC 100.  These findings were then broken down and placed along the transactional/relationship marketing continuum, by doing this the researcher is able to show the findings of the data in a far clearer manor.

Following this analysis, it was found that the campaigns that suite the retail industry the best are e-marketing campaigns that focus on building on relationships with existing customers. Moreover, the research also deduced that when genders are involved the trend is for the campaign to use females as the main characters in most campaigns, for ethnicity the predominant trend is the use of white people in the western world with often the ethnicity being mixed between all characters in America more than Europe. However, in eastern countries the ethnicity trend shows that the main character is often the same ethnicity as the target market. The analysis of the impact of age on campaigns showed trends that highlight an effective campaign consists of a target audience which is the millennial generation as they have the highest buying authority and susceptibility.  Overall there was some limitations that could have been solved with a larger sampling selection which is evaluated in the conclusion.

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Marketing campaigns are ubiquitous. It is virtually impossible for an average person to live one day without being a wiling or unwitting consumer of marketing messages. While some advertisements have an immediate effect and result in a resolve to action, others need to be repeated multiple times to incite a favorable view of the advertised product, and yet others do not succeed in fulfilling their goals at all. Competition in the retail sector seems especially fierce and consistently effective marketing campaigns are what makes or breaks a company in the retail industry, where loyalty is low and the desire of novelty is high.

While the general consensus is that the success of marketing campaigns depends on multiple factors, this research projects sets out to discover the role of the type of marketing campaign on its effectiveness, as well as the effect of demographics on the success of the retail marketing. The present study uses both deductive and inductive approaches to the secondary analysis of qualitative data that includes thematic analysis of the most effective marketing campaigns in the last two years.

1.2 Personal motivations

My personal interest in marketing and reasons for its effectiveness guided the selection of this topic for my research. Having grown up with parents that are self-employed, from a young age I have been around a business environment. This has meant as I grew up I had to help out in various roles of the business, one of the roles I took to the most was the marketing of my family business and this was the reason I chose to study Management (Marketing) at university. Before I attended university I took a year out to work form my family business which is in the retail sector. I learnt many things in various fields of industry yet the one field that intrigued me the most was marketing. This was grew to become a passion of mine as I wanted to know how different types of retailers could out-do one another with just having a better marketing campaign. I have always been interested in the formula behind creating an appealing advertisement and making marketing messages spread far and wide. I chose this topic because I was genuinely curious to discover the results of this research, and I believe this information will serve me well in my future profession.

2. Literature review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the results of the literature review concerning the topics of marketing campaign styles and their classifications in general, as well as marketing in the retail industry specifically. This literature review sums up the existing academic literature on the marketing effectiveness and marketing campaign size. It also presents the results of the analysis of the previous research on the effect of such demographic attributes as age, gender, and ethnicity on the choice of marketing campaigns. The conclusion section of this chapter contains the discussion of the research gaps, as well as the opportunities for further research.

2.2 Marketing campaign styles

There are multiple approaches to classifying marketing campaign styles by different attributes. For example, marketing campaigns may be divided into modern and post-modern (Fırat & Dholakia, 2006; Proctor, Proctor, & Papasolomou-Doukakis, 2002); products-services and products-solutions (Cerasale & Stone, 2004; Cova, Ghauri, and Salle 2002); company-centric (or product-centric) and customer-centric (Kim, Suh, & Hwang, 2003); and others. Some of these classifications overlap or are difficult to be defined specifically and distinctly from one another (Davis, 2001). However, one comprehensive approach to defining marketing campaign types that encompasses many of the aforementioned campaign styles was developed by the Contemporary Marketing Practice group (Lindgreen, Palmer, Wetzels, & Antioco, 2008).

This approach is favoured by a variety of scholars (Pels, Coviello, & Brodie, 2000; Palmer & Brookes, 2002; Li, 2011), because it places marketing campaign styles along the continuum between transactional marketing, focused on new customer acquisition, and relational approach, focused just as much on retaining existing clients and developing current customers, lest they be lured away by the competitors, as they are on acquiring new ones (Lindgreen et al., 2008). The approach does not place definitive boundaries between the marketing styles along the continuum, but rather reflects the degree of their transactional or relational nature (Brookes & Palmer, 2004). The following five types may be differentiated within this approach: transaction marketing (TA), database marketing (DB), e-marketing (IMT), interaction marketing (IMP), and network marketing (NM).

2.2.1 Transaction marketing

Transaction marketing is focused on attracting new business by managing elements of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion, and place. These 4Ps marketing strategies (Constantinides, 2006) are an essential part of all the marketing styles in this approach, but in transaction marketing they are the most important part that drives communication activities. TA involves communicating marketing messages to consumers in an undifferentiated mass market manner and relies on new customers to generate new sales. Relationships with customers are limited by one-off transaction interactions and no effort is made to create personal or individualised contact. Marketing activities are conducted by functional market teams and sales managers (Li & Nicholls, 2000).

2.2.2 Database marketing

Database marketing, in addition to using the 4P’s, employs some tools to manage existing customers. Thus, it collects their information and created databases, through which it initiates occasional semi-personal contact, such as sending out mass e-mails. In addition to the communication, generated by technology, DB marketing also uses loyalty managers and customer service staff to perform marketing activities. While interaction with customers are mainly formal, DB marketers pay more attention to the individual situations of their consumers than TA marketers (Peltier, Schibrowsky & Schultz, 2003).

2.2.3 E-marketing

E-marketing uses the Internet and other interactive technologies to create a dialogue between the company and the many consumers through websites, e-mails, social networks, as well as other electronic media and marketing tools, encouraging and facilitating them in exchanging information among themselves through forums, reviews of the products, etc. (Lindgreen et al., 2008). Some researchers use the terms e-marketing, internet marketing, e-commerce, and e-business interchangeably (Strauss & Frost, 2001; Smith & Chaffey, 2005), while others differentiate between them, describing differences in scope between the terms (El-Gohary, 2010). As opposed to transaction marketing and database marketing, the communication created in IMT is two-way and implores responses from the consumers (Lindgreen et al., 2008).

2.2.4 Interaction marketing

Interaction marketing involves face-to-face interaction between representatives of the company and individual clients. Instead of marketing messages being distributed to a massive number of customers, they are co-created with customers on a one-on-one basis with the input from the buyers. The communication between employees of the selling company and representatives of the buying company in IMP happens not only in formal meetings, but also in personal and informal settings (Song, Droge, Hanvanich, & Calantone, 2005). Marketing activities are conducted by employee teams in different functions on different levels throughout the company (Parvatiyar & Sheth, 2000).

2.2.5 Network marketing

Network marketing focuses on establishing the company’s position within a network of company-level relationships (Lindgreen et al., 2008). Communication with customers in NM is developed from impersonal to interpersonal and can be characterised as ongoing. Marketing activities are conducted not only by marketing teams and teams of employees from different functions, but often senior management is also involved in cultivating relationship with customer companies and potential customers and partners through networking within the company’s industry both formally and informally (Siamagka, Christodoulides, Michaelidou, & Valvi, 2015).

2.3 Marketing in the retail industry

Since the customers of retail companies and buyers of consumer goods are individual consumers and not businesses, and IMP and NM deals primarily with the B2B marketing, the transaction-relationship continuum for the retail industry is limited to the first three marketing campaign types, with TA being on the far transaction side and e-marketing being on the far relationship side. Transaction marketing is still widely used by retailers to expand market share and attract new customers through distribution of leaflets, TV advertisements, and other marketing strategies (Alexander & Colgate, 2000). Databases are also popular both with brick-and -mortar businesses that encourage customers to share their personal information, such as e-mail or home address, in order to receive offers and loyalty promotion, and with online retailers that prompt every website visitor to sign up or registering on the website for future benefits (Unni & Harmon, 2007). However, retail companies are gradually moving away from mere transaction marketing towards relationship marketing, increasingly relying in the use of e-marketing tools (Alexander & Colgate, 2000).

Relationship marketing offers many benefits to the retailers due to the nature of their business, since they offer a variety of products that can be purchased by the same customer, often repeatedly (Wong & Sohal, 2013). One of the obvious benefits is the cost, since the cost of acquiring a new customer is five times larger than the cost of retaining the existing customer through relationship marketing, while their lifetime value is also an important factor (Berger & Nasr, 1998). In the retail sector, the lifetime value of customers plays an increasingly important role due to the widespread adoption of consumerism as the main framework for shopping in retail outlets (Woodruffe‐Burton, Eccles, & Elliott, 2002). Decades ago, people used to buy new things only when the old ones were completely used up, but now customers have more purchasing power and shopping is driven by desire, not necessity (Muratovski, 2013). Thus, in modern times, it is sufficient to convince the customer that a new product is desirable, rather than appealing to the rational mind in an effort to convince to purchase (Alford, 2011).

Retail clothing industry has effectively adopted the concept of ‘fast fashion’ in order to convince the customers to buy new clothes every season, advertising new trends in an effort to render the previous clothes irrelevant (Cachon & Swinney, 2011). Having a core group of customers is beneficial to the company in other ways than direct sales. Companies can use their existing customers to test new products with reduced risk (Alexander & Colgate, 2000) or even solicit new ideas for products or derive them from customers’ feedback and input (Benedetto, 1999). In addition, customer loyalty cultivated by relationship marketing serves as a barrier to competitor’s entry into the market, even though switching costs are low in the retail sector (Yang & Peterson, 2004).

Despite the obvious benefits to the use of relationship marketing, the setting of retail industry does not make it easy for large companies to cultivate relationships with the consumers. While other settings, such as financial service providers, barber shops, or even family-owned restaurants build relationships with their clients through repeated personal service interactions, large retail stores seem very impersonal by comparison (Zimmer & Golden, 1998). In addition, the types of products sold in retail store include those that require high involvement and decision making at the time of purchase, but not afterwards, or low involvement and higher number of subsequent visits, but rarely both (Alexander & Colgate, 2000). Thus, retail companies have to rely on their marketing departments to communicate messages that build trust and send the impression of mutual respect in order to build relationships with the consumers.

2.4 Marketing campaign effectiveness

Success of the company largely depends on the success of its marketing campaign in its ability to reach and influence the target market (Strahilevitz, 2003; Cano, Carrillat, & Jaramillo, 2004). The effectiveness of the marketing campaign is defined by its ability to reach new prospects, generate leads, earn media, promote the brand, and, ultimately increase sales (Fulgoni & Lipsman, 2014). However, it is rather difficult to measure such reach with a high level of precision due to individually subjective processes that take place in the mind of the consumers between the time when they learnt about the brand for the first time and the time they purchased a product. In addition, there is a multitude of marketing messages directed at the consumers throughout the day that may interfere with the consumer perception of the brand, such as adverts from competing brands. Even marketing messages from other industries may influence the consumers to switch to substitutes or abandon a certain type of lifestyle altogether, leading to the decrease in relevance of the advertised product (Nowlis, Kahn, & Dhar, 2002). Thus, complex approaches are needed to effectively measure the marketing campaign success. In academic literature, the following methods of measuring marketing campaign effectiveness are described: advertising tracking studies, cross-sectional analysis, quasi-experiments, conversion studies, and online behaviour tracking. Below is a short description of each of them.

2.4.1 Advertising tracking studies

The advertising tracking approach is used when consumer research data is gathered to provide information about the reactions of consumers at different stages of the marketing process (Colman & Brown, 1983). It is useful to gain insight about the process through which the marketers build awareness of the product or the company, influence opinions, and shift attitudes over a long period of time, since not all advertising carries an immediate sales objective (Siegel & Ziff-Levine, 1990). However, due to the positive relationship between advertising awareness and sales effectiveness for individual brands, assessing communication and emotional values through advertising tracking awareness was commonly used before the newer research methods became available (Colman & Brown, 1983).

2.4.2 Cross-sectional analysis

Contrary to the advertisement tracking studies that follow the same group of consumers over a long period of time, cross-sectional analysis takes a snapshot across different demographics at one point in time (Buzzell & Wiersema, 1981). This approach is less costly and requires less time than advertisement tracking, but it would not be helpful in discovering causal relationships or the developments of trends over time, since it is limited to describing correlation, without an ability to prove causation (Bowen & Wiersema, 1999). Nevertheless, it may be used for spotting trends and uncovering important differences among certain target segments, for example, differences in behaviours of consumers of different age, gender, and ethnicities (Dutra & Glantz, 2014).

2.4.3 Quasi-experiments

Some researchers conduct quasi-experiments through exit surveys of people who were exposed to the marketing messages and those who did not and compare the two groups (Woodside, MacDonald, & Trappey, 1997). Since the consumer behaviour, including their attitude towards a company and consequent purchase of the product, may not always result from an exposure to a single advertisement or marketing campaign, a control group is used to measure the effect of a particular message (Mok, 1990). Thus, when Quebec outlawed advertising to children, the French-speaking children who watched only the Quebec TV stations became a control group for the English-speaking children who watched American channels that contained advertisements. The differences between the two groups were significant, since the English-speaking children recognised more toy brands and had more cereals at home than their French-speaking counterparts (Goldberg, 1990). As opposed to cross-sectional analysis, the quasi-experiments are able to yield the conclusions of significantly important connections between advertising and behaviour (Hill, Moakler, Hubbard, Tsemekhman, Provost, & Tsemekhman, 2015).

2.4.4 Conversion studies

Many academics and marketers measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns by conducting research, most often through questionnaires, that assesses the percentage of people who are exposed to advertisement that convert into paying customers (Wagner, Benlian, & Hess, 2014). Conversion studies are also useful in identifying why consumers move on to the next stage in conversion, from expressing their interest through requesting additional information and quotes, adding items to their shopping carts, submitting their orders, and completing their purchases (Pratt, McCabe, Cortes-Jimenez, & Blake, 2010). These conversion actions can be correlated with certain consumer characteristics, such as demographics, in order to understand the relationship between certain types of advertisements and certain qualities of the target market. 

2.4.5 Online behavior tracking

The most ideal method of measuring the effectiveness of separate advertisements or whole marketing campaigns is online conversion tracking.  This combines the elements of longitudinal quasi-experiments and cross-sectional analysis, as it makes it possible to compare groups that were exposed to online advertisements and banners and those who were not, as well as different demographic groups. It also incorporates the elements of advertisement tracking and conversion studies, allowing it to match the behavior of consumers to different stages of their relationship with the campaign. The most important advantage of this approach is that instead of asking for self-reported opinions and intentions, it tracks the actual behavior of the consumer, such as clicking on the banner that was shown for the third time, downloading the advertised software, requesting a quote, clicking around on different parts of the website, and completing the purchase (D’Eon & Bolt, 1999).

The rise of online conversion tracking and its effectiveness gave way for marketers to be able to pay per results, and not per impressions (Osman & Usman, 2001). In addition, it made it possible to make precise predictions about different types of consumers and which ones are likely to convert, thus making targeting the preferable market segments more effective (Ur, Leon Cranor, Shay, & Wang, 2012). One challenge of this approach comes from the concern for privacy of individual consumers who prefer not to have their online behaviour tracked for the purpose of enriching the companies who sell and buy online ads (Castelluccia, Kaafar, & Tran, 2012). On the other hand, data gathering comes with the use of online resources and is described in the terms and conditions of certain websites (Steinfeld, 2016).

2.5 Marketing campaign size

The scope of a marketing campaign is defined by the size of the target market, as well as the purpose of the campaign and the goals of the company, but is limited by the company’s budget (Eikenberry, 2009). For example, a company may wish to advertise its mass market product on TV, but due to the budget restraints and the high price of TV time, it opts for ads in the community magazines and on YouTube (Campbell, Pitt, Parent, & Berthon, 2011). Large companies may be able to afford paying for billboard signs and bus stop posters, while smaller companies find it more fitting to their budget to print out leaflets and flyers to be handed out by promoters on the streets (Burton, Lichtenstein, & Netemeyer, 1999). Similarly, while placing a Google ad would reach a larger audience, Facebook ads are more cost-effective and can be set to target smaller segments of the market (Margarida Barreto, 2013). On the other hand, a company with less restrictive budget but a niche product; may prefer to purchase an advert placement in a specialist magazine rather than advertise in mainstream publications (McDowell, 2004), even if it can afford to do so.

The size of the marketing campaign can be increased due to the efforts of the company who purchases additional TV air time or advert placements in magazines, but it can also grow organically, through word-of-mouth or unpaid media mentions that are also called ‘earned’ media impressions (Milano, McInturff, & Nichols, 2004). Traditional media outlets, as well as blogs, constantly seek out stories that would interest their readers and when companies, products, or marketing campaign themselves provide such stories, the authors are eager to feature them at no cost, expanding the reach of the company’s marketing (Kulmala, Mesiranta, & Tuominen, 2013).

2.6 Demographics

Descriptive studies, as well as statistical research, have found significant differences in demographic attributes, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, between people who frequently shopped at certain retail stores and those who did not (Sampson & Tigert, 1992; Carpenter & Moore, 2006). These findings correspond with the marketing efforts in targeting certain segments of the market, rather than attempting to appeal to everybody and spending on advertising to people that are not attracted by the type of product marketed. Thus, demographics both define the marketing efforts and are the subject to them (Naseri & Elliott, 2011). Below is a brief description of the main demographic characteristics as they apply to the retail industry.

2.6.1 Age

Academics traditionally divide consumers by age into generations, such as Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964; Generation X, born between 1965 and 1976; Generation Y (or Millennials), born 1977 to 1995, and Generation Z, born after 1996 (Glass, 2007). Academics also agree that with the progression of age, consumer behaviours change, especially relating to retail and grocery shopping, therefore the age factor should be taking into consideration when designing marketing campaigns (Seock & Souls, 2008). For example, Baby Boomers limit their shopping to few locations, while Generation X consumers comprise the support of multiple retailers. Older people are less likely to be attracted to multiple-purchase promotions but increasingly value nutrition confidence (Meneely, Burns, & Strugnell, 2009).

On the other hand, Generation Y are a group of consumers with an unprecedented purchasing power who are exposed to an unprecedented choice in any product category, placing increased value on the socialisation factor and uncertainty reduction in their consumer behaviour (Farris, Chong, & Danning, 2002). In addition, reactance and self-discrepancy, as well as feelings of accomplishment and connectedness are also significant drivers of product purchases and retail patronage by Generation Y consumers (Noble, Haytko, & Phillips, 2009). The importance of considering age in marketing is perhaps best demonstrated by the practice of additional consideration for age in marketing campaign taken in order not to use older-age cues in advertising retail locations that are also meant to target young people, because such messages trigger a reluctance to be seen by their peers as patronising those locations (Day & Stafford, 1997).

2.6.2 Gender

There has been a lot of attention devoted to the differences in consumer behaviour between the genders. While there is some academic research to support the notion that in modern times, gender distinctions in behaviour are less adhered to as they were in the previous decades due to higher gender fluidity (Bettany, Dobscha, O’Malley & Prothero, 2010), and individual consumer preferences are increasingly more indicative and predictive of consumer behaviour than gender (Armentor-Cota, 2011), the overwhelming majority of academics and marketers agree that gender remains an important factor in marketing that should not be ignored while designing the campaign (Darley & Smith, 1995; Kim, Lehto, & Morrison, 2007).

One common use of gender differences in marketing is the use of sex appeal and female objectification that is prevalent in advertisements to this day (Thompson, 2000; Szymanski, Moffitt, & Carr, 2011), with a small reversed trend in male objectification (Rohlinger, 2002). Some researchers voice a concern that even attempts at gender-neutral marketing favour a male perspective and should invest into creating appealing messages to female consumers (Westwood, Pritchard, & Morgan, 2000), especially because they are often the ones who buy for other people in their households or influence purchase decisions. A recent trend of marketing messages that promote gender equality and female empowerment is gaining momentum (Gee, 2015), attracting consumers with the use of the moral appeal and the meaningful connection attributes of a cause-related approach (Andersen & Johansen, 2016).

2.6.3 Ethnicity

Ethnicity of consumers is often correlated with cultural, religious, and traditional differences in values that should be accounted for in marketing. For example, Western worldview emphasises individualism and rationalism, while Eastern worldview values collectivism and harmony (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). Marketers have long strived to accommodate these cultural differences in their marketing strategies, adapting their messages to different target markets, in order to create a connection with consumer and avoid being insensitive or offensive (Nguyen, Nguyen, & Barrett, 2008). Some researchers, however, emphasise the trend of the emerging ‘global consumer’ in their argument that cultural differences are largely trumped by the global appeal of consumerism, and that the people of new generations on each continent are more like each other than they are like their fellow countrymen (Cleveland, Laroche, & Papadopoulos, 2016). Nevertheless, the role of non-Western consumers, as well as the role of minorities in the Western countries, demand a certain level of representation in the marketing as a powerful tool of shaping opinions (Araujo & Kjellberg, 2009).

2.7 Overview and research gap

The review of previous research, as well as current academic literature, revealed the existence of different approaches to the classification of marketing campaign types and demonstrated the superiority and universal applicability of the marketing campaign classification developed by the Contemporary Marketing Practice group (Lindgreen et al., 2008) that divides marketing campaigns into transaction marketing, database marketing, e-marketing, interaction marketing, and network marketing. The research also indicates that the trend towards the relationship side of the marketing spectrum is growing due to its effectiveness. The previous research literature suggests that the marketing campaigns used in the retail industry belong to the first three categories.

In addition, all of them use transaction marketing, while some use DB and IMT marketing in addition to the traditional focus on the 4P’s. The logical conclusion follows that some forms of the marketing campaigns that are the furthest on the relationship spectrum, while still being available for the retail companies marketing to individual consumers and not business entities would be the most effective forms of marketing campaigns. However, the overview of literature around the relationship marketing in retail revealed industry-specific difficulties in implementing such approach. Thus, further research is needed to discover what current forms of marketing campaigns are most effective in the retail industry and which style of campaigns suits retail businesses best.

In addition, while plentiful research exists as to the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, as well as the importance of demographics in marketing, the relationship of the demographics and the size of marketing campaigns was largely understudied and presents a gap in the existing literature and an opportunity for further research.

3. Methodology

3.1 Research approach

The research framework used in this research is based on the classification of the marketing campaigns developed by the Contemporary Marketing Practice group (Lindgreen et al., 2008) and further refined by eliminating the classifications that apply only to the business-to-business selling companies that are not relevant to the retail industry. The resulting framework contains three types of marketing campaigns that advertise directly to the end consumers and are situated along the transaction/relationship continuum, with transaction marketing (TA) occupying the furthest position on the transaction side of the continuum, database marketing (DB) positioned in the middle, and e-marketing (IMT) located the furthest on the relationship side of the continuum.

The present research project employs a combination of deductive and inductive approaches. The deductive approach provides the hierarchical structure that allows to organise collected data and expose gaps, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the research data (Elo & Kyngäs, 2008). However, fully deductive research is out of scope of the present research project due to the large volume of current marketing practices by the contemporary retail companies, therefore the inductive approach was chosen to allow for the in-depth analysis of a sample of data, thus complementing the deductive approach in answering the research questions.

3.2 Research questions

The aim of this project is to discover which forms of marketing campaigns are more effective than others in the retail industry. This will fill the gap in the existing academic literature that results from the comparison of the logical conclusion that follows from the literature review of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and suggests that the forms of the marketing campaigns that are the furthest on the relationship spectrum would be the most effective forms of marketing campaigns, on one hand, and the overview of literature around the relationship marketing in retail that revealed the existence of industry-specific difficulties in implementing such approach in the retail setting, rendering it practically impossible to cultivate relationships in large retail outlets. Thus, the first research question is posed as follows:

RQ1: Which style of campaigns suits businesses in the retail industry best?

In addition, while the literature review revealed plentiful research focused on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and the importance of demographics in marketing, a gap in the literature was revealed as to the relationship of the demographics and the size of marketing campaigns was largely understudied. Thus, the second research question is posed as follows:

RQ2- In the retail industry when deciding on the size of the campaign how do qualities of the target market, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, affect the choice of campaign?

3.3 Method

The researcher chose the qualitative type of research this was due to the purpose of the present research that aimed to compare qualitative types of data, such as the marketing campaign types and attributes, that can be gathered and analysed only through the qualitative approach. Qualitative research allows the researcher to compare characteristics that are not easily quantifiable, especially when the concepts are described in similar, but not identical terms, which inhibits any efforts at statistical analysis in the context of retail marketing. Qualitative type of research also lends flexibility to this project, since the researcher can follow a lead uncovered during the review of literature or modern practice, and turn attention to new dimensions of the research questions that may not have been foreseen at the design stage of the project. Quantitative analysis would not be able to account for such newly discovered data due to the rigid design and execution (Madrigal & McClain, 2012:1).

The researcher selected the secondary type of research due to the wealth of the academic marketing literature concerning marketing, as well as present availability of the data that concerns the effectiveness of the current marketing campaigns in the retail sector. The methods of measuring the effectiveness discovered through the literature review in Chapter 2 demonstrate the necessity for tools outside of the scope of the present research that would be needed to collect reliable primary data on the effectiveness of marketing campaign. Thus, a long period of time would be needed to conduct longitudinal studies, such as advertising tracking studies and quasi-experiments, or the availability of complex and exhaustive technical tools and capabilities would be needed to conduct conversion studies and online behavior tracking.

Fortunately, there are reliable sources in current marketing and business literature that measure the effectiveness of current marketing campaigns throughout different industries and sectors. For example, the WARC 100 is a renowned benchmark for marketing activity, as well as one of the most respected metrics in the field (Parnell-Berry, 2016). It tracks results from global effectiveness and marketing strategy ranking systems to assess the scope of the marketing reach and the return on investment (ROI) from different marketing campaigns (Ibid., 2016).

While surveying population on their attitudes and opinions on the topic of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns could potentially be used for cross-sectional analysis of marketing campaign effectiveness, such primary data would have reproduced only the conscious attitudes and then only those which the respondents would be willing to share (Feilzer, 2010:6). In addition, there are often differences between the opinions and intentions stated by the consumers and their consumer actions, as well as between their intended and perceived behaviour and their actual behaviour (Sheeran, 2002:2). On the other hand, the analysis conducted by the leading ranking systems to evaluate the success of specific companies’ marketing strategies demonstrates the actual engagement and consumer behaviour of the target market reached by the marketing campaigns.

Secondary qualitative research in the form of the literature review was conducted, employing the deductive approach to segregate hierarchically into higher level topics and subtopics. For example, the higher topics, such as marketing campaign styles, were demonstrated to contain subtopics in the form of different types of marketing campaigns, such as TA, DB, etc., in Chapter 2. Chapter 4 describes the inductive approach applied to the secondary qualitative data to assess and compare the qualities of specific marketing campaigns to classify them according to the research framework to answer RQ1.

3.4 Data analysis

In order to address the RQ2, thematic analysis was used to uncover themes relating to the demographics in the marketing campaign effectiveness in cultivating relationships with key demographics. Thematic analysis is a flexible approach that may be applied as a tool across different research methods and within large analytical traditions (Ryan & Bernard, 2000; Boyatzis, 1998) or as a standalone method of analysing qualitative data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). This method is based on identifying, analysing, and presenting patterns and trends, as well as meaningful themes (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) within sets of qualitative data. Thematic analysis is commonly used in qualitative data analysis grounded in specific content, when an inductive and evolving process of identifying shared themes within that context is needed (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Therefore, this approach is consistent with one of the goals of the present research project to uncover the relationship between age, gender, and ethnicity and the choice of marketing campaign. Since thematic analysis is more flexible than other methods of qualitative analysis that have a defined structure and a preconceived set of hypotheses to which the accumulated data is compared (Barr, Levy, Scheepers, & Tily, 2013), it uses semi-structured methods of collecting qualitative data, allowing for exploration of leads and themes that arise in the research process (Guest, MacQueen, & Namey, 2011).

One challenge of using the qualitative approach to analyse the research data stems from the inability to validate the findings through calculating a p-value or an effect size, as is done with the quantitative data. Therefore, one must exercise caution with qualitative data, validating and revalidating it throughout the ongoing research, lest anecdotal data be taken for trends and patterns. In the present research project the identification of trends and patterns was conducted with the use of rule of thumb described by Madrigal and McClain (2012). This rule defines themes that were mentioned once as anecdotes, themes mentioned twice as coincidences, and only those that were mentioned three or more times as trends. Since the present research dealt with demographics in current marketing campaigns, specific themes from adverts relating to age, gender, and ethnicity were noted and measured against this rule to identify themes and trends.

3.5 Sampling and selection

A sample of the top ten effective marketing campaigns between the years of 2014 and 2016 (Mossakowska, 2016) was selected based on their effectiveness reported by the WARC 100 (Parnell-Berry, 2016). One of the top ten WARC campaigns did not advertise a retail location or a type of consumer goods that could be purchased at the retail level and was thus excluded from the sample in order to retain the relevance of the findings to the retail industry context. The years between 2014 and 2016 were selected due to their recency and their ability to represent current practices in the use of marketing campaigns by the retail. The WARC 100 was selected due to its reputation and credibility among the academic marketing experts (Ibid., 2016). In addition, the effectiveness assessment employed by the WARC process corresponds to the best practices of effectiveness measurement as described in the Chapter 2 of the present project.

3.6 Ethical considerations

Since the secondary data was used, no human participants were subjected to a study that could violate ethical code. However, as with all qualitative data analysis, there is a possibility of researcher bias that interferes with the reliability of the findings. This consideration was partially remedied by the employment of the renowned ranking system to prevent the possibility of the researcher’s personal preferences to affect the selection of the effective marketing campaigns. The classification of the marketing campaigns was straightforward, and the researcher is confident that the classification results would be identical even if performed by a different researcher.

4. Analysis and discussion

4.1 Analysis background

4.1.1 Marketing campaign types classification

According to the research framework specified in the previous chapters marketing campaigns are situated along the transaction/relationship continuum (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The transaction/relationship continuum. (Author, 2017)

The three types of marketing campaigns that advertise directly to the end consumers are situated along the transaction/relationship continuum in the following way: transaction marketing (TA) occupies the furthest position on the transaction side of the continuum; database marketing (DB) is positioned in the middle; and e-marketing (IMT) is located the furthest on the relationship side of the continuum (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Marketing campaign types on the transaction/relationship continuum. (Author, 2017)

4.1.2 The WARC marketing campaigns

The top nine most effective retail marketing campaigns as defined by the WARC 100 for the years 2014-2016 are as follows:

1. Penny the Pirate, a marketing campaign that advertised a children’s book that comes with an app and allows parents to test the eyesight of their children through interactive activities that help identify common eye issues among children. The mobile app allows parents to check the result of the eye test and book an appointment with the ophthalmologist, if needed. This marketing campaign was rated effective due to the innovative product, part of the marketing mix on the transaction side. However, in addition to the effective use of the 4Ps, this campaign used videos to showcase the product use by parents and children, as well as incorporating a mobile component into the product. This was a smart piece of marketing as it encompassed both the target market and those that can make the decision for them. This therefore I believes qualifies it for the position in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

2. Like A Girl marketing campaign by Always. Always is a company that sells female hygiene products. The company ran a marketing campaign that consisted of a series of videos that showed young girls talking about their perception of female ‘emojis’, characters of a graphic language built into most mobile phones. These “emojis” can also be downloaded as additional apps then configured into the keyboard. The girls complained that the phones’ female emojis were too stereotypical and did not represent them, expressing a wish for more female emojis that represented girls engaging in different types of empowering activities, pursuing professions, winning at sports, etc. The campaign encouraged female mobile and social media users to use the hashtag #LikeAGirl and express their emoji wishes. This campaigns success can also be largely due to the support it got from that added free social media phenomenon. Consumers unknowingly spread the marketing message, not as an advert but more as a matter of feminine equality. This campaign relied heavily on the social media use, therefore it was assigned to the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

3. Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables by Intermarché. The supermarket chain Intermarché launched a campaign aimed at changing the expectations for the appearance of the fruits and vegetables that are sold in grocery stores. Before the campaign, supermarkets were selling only the fruits and vegetables that conformed to certain appearance standards, causing all the non-conforming food to go to waste and all the conforming food to be high in price. The campaign introduced defective fruits and vegetables to be sold in the supermarkets at 30% discount, advertising the causes and the effects of the campaign through the posters inside the supermarkets. While this campaign relies heavily on the innovative approach to the product, price, and place parts of the marketing mix, the company uses fidelity cards that gather consumer information, and it warrants the position of the campaign in the DB bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

4. Live Test Series by Volvo. Volvo ran a campaign that consisted of a series of videos in which test drives were performed by children using the remote controls in order to showcase how safe Volvo trucks are. While the company ran different campaigns that relied on social media, this particular campaign focused solely on the safety feature of the company’s product, therefore positioning itself in the TA bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

5. If We Made It by Newcastle Brown Ale. Newcastle Brown Ale made an advertisement about how they could not afford to participate in the Super Bowl advert contest due to its prohibitively high costs and described what their advert would be like if they made it. The campaign went viral on social media, as celebrities started posting public requests to include them in the advert if it is ever made to their social media accounts. The viral nature of this online social network campaign places it in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

6. This Is Wholesome by Honey Maid. Honey Maid makes whole grain snacks for children, and it ran a campaign featuring non-traditional families, such as families with children recomposed after a divorce, families with same-sex parents or single parents with slogans such as “This is wholesome” and hashtag #notbroken. The campaign relied heavily on social media sharing, therefore, it is placed in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

7. Share a Coke by Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has long offered personalised coke cans as part of its Share a Coke campaign, but this round of the campaign involved the user input as to which 50 names would be added to the list of names available on cans. Social media users submitted their suggestions and voted on the names. The campaign relied entirely on social media sharing, therefore, it is placed in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

8. Kan Khajura Tesan by Unilever Hindustan. Unilever reached a target market in an Indian city with the population of over 100 million people who did not have regular access to television, but the majority of whom had mobile phones. Unilever ran a campaign that allowed consumers to use missed calls to request callbacks that would serve as radio communication. Users were able to listen to 15 minutes of entertainment content featuring Unilever commercials, exponentially increasing the demand for the company’s products in the area. Since this campaign relied solely on mobile phones, it is placed in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

9. I Will What I Want by UnderArmour. UnderArmour ran a campaign featuring a celebrity model dressed in athletic attire made by the company and boxing. The video showed the comments often found under YouTube videos that either praised or condemned the model, projected on the walls of the boxing studio, as the supermodel rejected their effect without letting the comments distract her from her activity. The campaign made social media its focus, therefore, it is placed in the IMT bucket on the transaction/relationship continuum.

Figure 3 shows the position of all marketing campaigns in this research along the transaction/relationship continuum.

Figure 3. Marketing campaigns on the transaction/relationship continuum. (Author, 2017)

4.2 Thematic analysis of demographics

Main video submissions of the WARC 100 marketing campaigns were analysed and coded thematically according to emerging themes relating to the demographics shown in the marketing campaign main videos. The results are presented in the Figure 3.

Figure 4. Demographic themes

4.3 Discussion and results

4.3.1 RQ1: Which style of campaigns suits businesses in the retail industry best?

The analysis of the types of campaigns that were ranked the highest in the recent years indicates that the types of campaign that suit businesses in the retail industry best are the e-marketing campaigns that are focused on developing the relationships with the existing customers at the same rate as the developing new leads in attracting new customers. The predominant majority of the marketing campaigns participating in the research, 7 out of 9 belonged to the IMT category, with only one company each in the other two categories, DB and TA. This finding from the inductive approach to the qualitative data analysis is consistent with the logical assumption that resulted from the deductive approach applied to the literature review in Chapter 2 that stated the most effective marketing campaigns are likely to be the ones the furthest on the relationship side of the transaction/relationship continuum, but still within the reach of marketing to the consumer nature of the retail industry.

4.3.2 RQ2- In the retail industry when deciding on the size of the campaign how do qualities of the target market, such as age, gender, and ethnicity, affect the choice of campaign?

While the answer to research question one is obvious from the results of the classification of the most effective marketing campaigns into buckets of types of marketing campaigns derived from the literature review, the answer to the RQ 2 is arbitrary. However, following the rule of thumb described in the previous chapter, the trends of using children and millennials emerge when it comes to age. When it comes to gender, the trend of using only female main characters emerges, along with the trend to use both genders in marketing campaigns. In addition, female empowerment messages emerge as a dominant trend in the modern marketing campaigns. As for ethnicity, the predominant trend is the use of white people in the marketing campaigns, however people of the dark colour ethnic background, as well as actors of mixed races or mixed families are also featuring as trends. Therefore, the conclusion is that the use of the Millennials and children; all female or both gender main character; and actors of white, dark color, and mixed ethnic backgrounds has the positive effect on the size of the marketing campaign, allowing it to expand their reach through online social networks.

These findings are consistent with the findings from the review of literature conducted in Chapter 2 that highlighted the concept of demographics importance in designing marketing campaigns. It is consistent with the finding that Millennials are emerging as an important category in the consumer market. The thematic analysis confirms the previous research and positions Millennials as the most important age demographic for the marketing campaigns. While the other important age demographic present in the marketing campaigns is the children, children are not featured in the effective marketing campaigns as often as the Millennials do. In addition, they do not possess the purchasing power the adult Millennials do, who in these videos would make the purchases on behalf of the children, so the Millennials emerge as the key age demographic in importance for the current marketing campaigns.

In addition to Millennials, female actors emerged as the predominant main characters and actors in the most effective marketing campaigns in the retail context. While male actors, main characters, and narrators also featured in the campaigns, there were no campaigns with all male actors. On the other hand, however, there were two campaigns with all female actors, and most of the marketing campaigns featured some sort of female empowerment message, whether demanding more representation in the graphical language of emojis, showing a supermodel breaking stereotypes and engaging in boxing, disregarding negative comments from the judgmental eye of the public, or showing a little girl conducting a test drive of a large truck. Interestingly, no marketing campaigns that were named the most effective campaigns of the recent years features noticeable objectification of females and presented images of equality. Several campaigns featured girls or women breaking the moulds imposed on them by the society and showed them performing non-traditional roles, such as that of a pirate, a test driver for a large truck, or a boxer.

As to ethnicity, the marketing campaigns that were considered the most effective by the WARC 100 all featured white actors, while many also featured actors of dark color and mixed ethnic backgrounds. After comparing the country of origin of the marketing campaign to the target market country and the ethnicity of the actors featured in the promotional videos, an interesting picture emerges. In the marketing campaign by the British-Dutch TNC Unilever that targeted the Indian population, all actors in the promotional video were Indian. In the marketing campaigns that targeted Australia (Penny The Pirate; Share a Coke), Sweden (Volvo), and France (Intermarche), all actors were white, while the American advertisements represented diversity in all videos. The Under Armour promotional video that features only one person showed the supermodel Gisele Bündchen that looks white but is of Brazilian nationality and of German descent. Thus, in the current sample American marketers included representatives of many racial groups in their promotional video regardless of the product or targeted location, the British-Dutch companies (Unilever and its subsidiary Always) used diverse actors in one campaign and all Indian actors in the other campaign, and Australia, Sweden, and France used all white actors in their marketing campaigns.

5. Conclusion

5.1 Summary

The present research has achieved its aim to discover which forms of marketing campaigns are more effective than others in the retail industry and what role demographics play in the size of the campaign, thus filling the gaps in the existing academic literature that lacked a specific explanation of the effect of demographics on the size of the marketing campaign, on one hand, and suggested the relationship orientation of the effective marketing campaigns yet described its limits in the retail context, on the other hand. The present research demonstrates that in order to be effective, a marketing campaign should feature Millennials and children, female actors and messages of empowerment, and include either an ethnically diverse group of actors or actors of the ethnicity that is the majority in the target market. The inclusion of an ethnically diverse group of actors heavily depends on the country that the campaign is targeted at. A

Present research confirms the relationship orientation of the effective marketing campaign styles. This shows that online social networks and other electronic media serve as the medium in which the relationship between the retail companies and their target consumers may be refined. The present research showed the success of the marketers in meeting consumers on their grounds, whether it is calling the Indians on their cell phones and offering them entertainment in exchange for exposure to marketing messages, or engaging teenage girls with their favourite communication channel: emojis. The examples of the effective marketing campaign presented in this study are the success stories of retail companies which managed to incite high levels of participation from their consumers, engaging them in meaningful dialogues that went beyond simply meeting their needs with the product offering, all the time genuinely listening for their inputs and sympathising with their situations. These findings position the retail companies as able to resonate with the values of their consumers and create meaningful relationships with their consumers, built on trust and mutual respect, through the modern mediums of online social networks and electronic devices.

5.2 Limitations and further research

One of the limitations of the present research is its sample size that represented only the companies that made it to the top of the ranking system. The findings of a similar research with a larger sample size that would include more participants of retail companies may have increased reliability and generalisation factors. Having a larger sample of companies’ campaigns to analyse would have helped the researcher find a more conclusive outcome which could be argued as being more reliable. However, the consistency of findings from the analysis of the data collected from the sample on one hand and the findings from the previous research as described in Chapter 2 support the argument that the present research data findings are reliable and relevant. While they may not generalise universally across all context, they relate to the marketing campaigns within the retail context. In addition, the presence in this list of such small companies as Penny The Pirate demonstrates the importance of innovation as a product feature, as well as the e-marketing approach that may help even a small company to become one of the top marketing campaigns globally.

5.3 Personal reflection

Exercising in analysing qualitative data and discovering new trends and patterns that emerge from using both inductive and deductive approaches to secondary data analysis has contributed to my personal growth as a researcher and a student. Having involved myself is extensive academic literature I feel that I have broadened my understanding and this has helped me to improve my skills in comprehension, especially in how to deduce information I require from extremely wide-ranging pieces of literature. I believe in conducting this research I have developed the skill of how to use trends that I have spotted to find solutions to problems that the trends show. Managing the pressures of time and large workload has been an invaluable experience that I am likely to need in the future. Also, being able to produce large pieces of work such as this on a specified topic such as this is another skill I believe I have developed during the course of this project. In addition, contemplating about ethical issues raised by this research project has made me more aware and sensitive to the issues of gender equality, the role of ethnic minorities, and the place of marketing in our lives. I appreciate that women are prominently featured in the marketing campaigns; however, the lack of ethnic minorities representation raises the issue of their place in the society that has been increasingly becoming ethnocentric in the last years. It also begs the question whether this issue is simply reflected in marketing or whether it may be partially caused by it.


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Retail can be described as the process of goods or services being sold directly to the end-user. The most common form of Retail is through selling products in brick-and-mortar stores.

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