One of the major challenges faced by marketers and brand managers across the world today is that of positioning the various product brands they manage, differentiating it from competing product offerings, and communicating these differential attributes and the benefits that the customer can derive from these attributes. Marketing communications consists of the messages and related media used to communicate with a market (Fill, 2006). One of the important constituents of marketing communication is advertising, a critical activity of which involves media planning.
Media planning is defined as the series of decisions that is undertaken by a marketer in order to identify the best means of delivering marketing communication in the form of advertisements to prospective purchasers of a particular brand of products or services (Sissors & Baron, 2002). Media planning essentially involves two basic processes, firstly planning a media strategy, which includes, but is not restricted to deciding the target audience for the advertising message to be communicated, and secondly the actual short listing and buying of media vehicles. As can be concluded from the above, media planning is an integral component of the advertising business.
There are a myriad set of decisions that need to be made as part of the media plan. Firstly, the right media vehicles need to be chosen in line with the product category, the attributes of the specific brand and the preferences of the target consumer set. Once the medium for communicating the message is chosen, further atomicity of decision-making may be called for, to illustrate, within television, which specific channels are to be used, and which specific slots between programs aired on those channels are optimal and most effective. Other considerations would be whether the intensity of advertising should be higher during specific periods and relatively lower on other times, e.g. for cyclical or seasonal products (Hobson, 2007) such as skiing paraphernalia. Besides, the frequency at which these advertisements are to be run and the way in which they should link back to other forms of marketing communication and sales promotions so as to present a consistent message to the target consumer are also part of the media plan (Lancaster & Withey, 2006).
The revolution in the field of technology and communications has also influenced the area of media planning as it throws up a number of options to the media planner for vehicles that can be used to communicate with the target consumer, apprising him of the brand attributes. The increasingly savvy and demanding nature of the consumer base further complicates these decisions for the media planner. Some of the factors that influence these decisions are elaborated in detail in the following paragraphs.
As the cliché goes, the customer always comes first, and the same applies to the formulation of a media plan as well. The first consideration is thus the specific consumer segment that needs to be targeted as part of the advertising campaign, including the specific demographic, psychographic and geographic characteristics of the consumers constituting these segments. This in itself is the singularly most critical input to the drafting of the media plan. The next factor to consider is the geographical areas where the product in question is sold or distributed. Here, the significant concepts that the media planner needs to take cognizance of are the brand development index (BDI) or the extent to which sales in a particular market are strong in relation to the population of that market (Hiebing & Cooper, 2004). Similarly, the category development index (CDI) is an indication of the potential of a particular market in relation to its population (Kelley & Jugenheimer, 2004). These concepts aid the marketer and media planner to determine the relative distribution of budgetary and other resources to various markets depending on the existing dominance of the particular brand in the market and the market potential for the product category as revealed from the BDI and CDI.
Another critical determinant of the media plan is the budget that is available to the marketer for the marketing and advertising campaign. This can often be designated as a percentage of the sales revenues of the product in question, and as can be expected, higher this figure, greater the latitude available to the marketer for the media plan. Closely related to the budgetary considerations is the specific objective that the marketer seeks to achieve from the advertising campaign for which the media plan is being drafted. Marketing objectives must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-specific (Smith & Jonathan, 2004), and could be acquiring a specific percentage market share, percentage growth in sales, share of voice, etc. These marketing objectives generally translate into advertising objectives, with the typical advertising goals being awareness creation, persuasion, comprehension and reminders (Kumar, 2002).
While other considerations such as seasonality, media mix and synchronization with other forms of sales promotion and marketing communications have already been covered, a final factor that assumes importance especially in a fragmented industry with multiple players, is the competitive activities with regard to advertising, their tactics and share of voice in the consumer space. Indeed, cut-throat marketing organisations such as Pepsi and Unilever derive a lot of inputs to their advertising campaign and media plans based on what their competitors are up to, be it usage of media, advertising message or slots favoured for broadcasting their ads.
An advertising campaign and media plan can only be truly beneficial if there are timely and accurate means of measuring their effectiveness once they are implemented. Some of these measures especially in the context of television ads include the reach or the number of different or unduplicated households or persons that are exposed to a television program or commercial at least once during the average week for a reported time period. Another measure is the frequency, which denotes the average number of times a specific program or channel is viewed during a given time period. Similarly, the estimated proportion of all households with access to television that are actually viewing a particular channel or a given program is the rating of the program, while the share is the proportion of all households viewing television at any given point in time who are viewing a specific channel. These figures give further useful insights to advertisers and media planners to ‘tweak’ their plans so as to find the precise mix of media, channels and slots to be purchased so as to optimize the benefits that they can derive from the advertising within the budgets assigned to the campaign.
Media Plan for Hovis
Agricultural and food products are witnessing an increase in demand with population and simultaneously, the supply of food related products is on the decline due to the initiatives offered to farmers to produce bio-fuel constituents instead of food products. This twin effect of increased demand and reduced supply has resulted in an increase in the price of bread among other food products. As a result, Hovis, one of the premium brands of bread has increased in price, causing a potential shift of its consumers to cheaper brands of bread. This report is a media plan for Hovis to counter this situation that it faces in the bread and related foods market.
Target Segment and Geographical Markets
The purpose of advertising here is more to persuade and remind, given that Hovis already has a loyal customer base, and the sole purpose of the present advertising project is to prevent loss of the patron of this loyal customer base. Accordingly, the target segment is the upper middle class segment of consumers who are conscious of both price and quality, and might be swayed towards sampling and using other cheaper brands of bread on account of the increase in price. The scope of this media plan is not restricted to any specific geographical location, but is proposed to pervade across the United Kingdom, with special emphasis on the larger cities with the highest BDI and CDI, such as London and Manchester.
The budget available for the next year for the advertising spend, for which the present media plan is being constructed is £3 million, starting from April 2008. This is the overall advertising budget including the creative inputs from the agency, the media slots to be bought and the administrative costs incurred in the process.
The marketing objectives that are required to be achieved using the above advertising spend budget can be enumerated as follows:
- To retain the current market share of Hovis breads and related product lines in the face of increase in prices
- To reassure the target consumers of the Hovis quality promise and increase sales volumes by 10% in the next twelve months
The advertising goals that follow from the marketing objectives specified above are:
To communicate the underlying message of the Hovis quality promise to 70% of households within the United Kingdom within the next year and secure product trial from at least 5% of the market that currently doesn’t use Hovis bread
To reinforce the predominance of Hovis over other brands of bread among at least 90% of the customer base who are currently using Hovis bread but might be lost to competition on account of price differential.
Major competitor Kingsmill is known to be currently involved in a major media campaign targeted at citing the higher cost of the Hovis stable of products while offering the same quality as Kingsmill, thus trying to encourage first time users to sample Kingsmill bread. While Hovis is confident of the superior quality of its products over competition including Kingsmill, the probability of the customer not being so perceptive of the difference in quality and hence opting for the cheaper Kingsmill cannot be ruled out. Besides, this also adds to the ongoing competition from cheaper priced proprietary brands that are available at major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury.
There is a multiplicity of advertising media in Britain, with most of the media in question being considered accessible by the target segment in question. The Hovis campaign requires a media that can best reach the target audience completely as possible. Accordingly, a media mix that includes the newspapers, television, outdoor and Internet is recommended.
Of the £3,000,000 budget, the recommendation is to use £ 1.5 million on television slots in various channels, of which £1 million can be on national television, given the advertising goal of reaching 70% of the United Kingdom households. Further, £ 500,000 can be on region specific channels, where the message can be consistent, but presented in alignment with local dining preferences, e.g. bread and haggis promoted in Scotland and the more contemporary and convenient bread sandwich promoted as a handy meal for the busy workforce in cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham.
A further £1 million is proposed to be employed in print advertising, with the local newspaper advertisements including inserts with photographs or simply the messages. Here again, the proposal is to split this to £600,000 in national newspapers such as the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, and tabloids including the Sun, and the Daily Star. The remaining £400,000 can be used in regional dailies and weeklies again with localized meal preferences being accounted for in the way in which the message is projected in the advertisement. A final £ 0.3 million can be split between Internet advertising, focusing on the utilitarian and pleasure websites that exponents of the proposed target segment are most likely to visit, including high net worth and investment banking websites.
The proposed seasonality / cyclicality of the message is to carry regular advertisements to serve as reminder messages throughout the year, with a burst in the winter months when (a) the higher hunger levels experienced compared to summer and (b) the notion of a quiet and healthy meal indoors with one’s near and dear ones can be exploited by the ad campaign. Finally, while the proposal is to not take away from the premium image of the Hovis brand by giving out too many freebies as part of sales promotions, the media plan suggests that a discretionary budget amount be allocated to promos that can be planned to align with the advertisement campaign.