Written by Masters Student at Lund University
The digital revolution has changed the world of
marketing. The rapid advanced technology, the digitization of information
products and the increasing reach and speed of internet has transformed the
marketing arena and the rules that lay within. (Varadarajan &Yadav, 2009)
The digital revolution of the marketplace has had a major impact on contemporary marketing thoughts and practices. (Varadarajan &Yadav, 2009) Consumers are now interacting with the company, the media and importantly each other through social networking (Winer, 2009) and the strict border between companies and customers dilute. (Wind 2008) Businesses have been forced to fundamentally rethink their marketing strategies into an Internet-enabled environment. Effective integration of the internet into a firm’s marketing strategy and marketing operations is increasingly becoming a competitive imperative. (Varadarajan &Yadav, 2009, Muniz and Schau, 2011)
The purpose of this report is to address the challenges and opportunities for marketers when enabling internet and social networking into their business strategy and in particular underline the importance of not making traditional media obsolete. The report aims to emphasize that the firms online assets (social media) and offline assets (traditional marketing) are of equally importance in the web 2.0 era and make better results together than separately. This leads to the main question:
How should companies correlate and integrate their offline assets with online social media presence and bridge the gap the web 2.0 era has created between these two?
The report starts with providing an in-depth theoretical description of web 2.0 followed by a discussion of the correlation between online assets and offline assets, while finally examines the problem in question through a case study of Nike Inc., their offline event Nike Blast and their online social networking presence. This will contribute to the field of social customer relationship management by bridge the gap between using offline and online assets and in the understanding of effective integration of them both.
Understanding Web 2.0 and online assets
The rise of social networks has enabled billions of consumers to create, share, discuss and recommend information through trillions of social media platforms every day. (Hanna, Rohm, Crittenden, 2011) This virtually unlimited access to information between consumers has made consumers more engaged in brands than ever before. (Winer, 2009) Consumers are no longer passive recipients in the marketing exchange process but rather taking on active roles in co-creating marketing content. They are simultaneously the initiators and the recipients of information exchanges and the environment is defined by their connectivity and interactivity. (Hanna, Rohm, Crittenden, 2011; Fournier & Avery, 2011;Kietzmann,et al, 2011)
When mentioning content, a company must be clear about the story it wants to share with the marketplace. (Hanna et al., 2011) Because of WOM the loss of control on social media is so extensive and consumers brand story can interfere with the brand value. (Christodoulides, 2009) It’s therefore equally important to protect brand reputation by developing, and reliable delivering, a compelling brand promise. (Baarwise & Meehan, 2010; Fournier & Avery, 2011) In addition to this, building offline or online consumption communities were consumer increasingly regard brand as shared cultural property, “brands belongs to us”, can also be of main relevance in the process of building, maintaining and protect strong brands. (Winer, 2009, Cova & Dalli, 2009)
Correlating offline and online assets
When entering today’s marketplace with empowered consumers, relationship building and brand protection, brands are expected to deliver value through online content as well as offline product and service. (Duffy, 2013) When entering the web 2.0 era the internet-enabled marketing companies have started to think that traditional marketing is obsolete or irrelevant. In fact, the opposite is true. The two strategies are complementary rather than substitutive and firms can expect good returns on efforts aimed at carefully coordinating them both. (Armelini & Villanueva, 2011;Barwise & Meehan, 2010; Hanna et al., 2011; Wind, 2008; Keller & Fay, 2012, Merman Scott, 2011; Varadarajan &Yadav, 2009)
Companies that succeed in web 2.0 environment revise the marketing playbook rather than rewriting it and exploit social media opportunities while keeping a solid focus on meeting customer’s needs. (Barwise & Meehan, 2010) Traditional advertising can still be part of an overall strategy and important components of great public relationship program (Meerman Scott, 2011) but is now more used as a mean of foster conversation that persuades the prospect, which leads to purchase. (Keller & Fay, 2012) Companies should view their approach to social media as an integrated strategy that brings customers experienced to the forefront. As traditional media capturing attention via reach, new media expands media choices by capture intimacy, engagement, loyalty and advocacy. (Hanna et al., 2011) The integrated communication strategies of both traditional and social mediums allows companies to reach consumers on a numerous of platforms, enabling a wide sphere of influence. Such efforts, collectively, determine a firm’s online visibility. (Hanna et al, 2011; Varadarajan &Yadav, 2009; Wind, 2008)
When correlating both offline and online assets, Keller & Fay believe that the most effective advertisement is when media planners think about how, when, and where to reach consumers at moments most likely to lead to conversations and engagement. The key is to think first and foremost about social consumers rather than social media. There is a need to reorient business around people and human behavior and not technology concerning a Facebook strategy. To take a strictly digital perspective limits the impact of the overall marketing effort and misses out on the true power of word of mouth. Marketers cannot rely on the magic elixir of social media to drive conversations. Instead, they need to deploy a more robust set of tools to drive brand encouragement. All media are social and so is the most effective advertising. (Keller& Fay, 2012) Managers therefore have to focus on both optimizing the company and its social network, since competitions is increasingly “network against network”(Wind, 2008)
Sport has become a flourishing platform for marketing communications as they mobilize a large and involved audience and their exposure level and involvement has a positive effect on image transfer from event to brand. (Neijens, 2009) Each year the Sportswear and equipment giant Nike Inc. represents a two day training convention called the Nike Blast held in the globe in Stockholm, Sweden. Nike has moved away from investing in advertising (Clark, 2010) shifting their focus toward building collaborative communities and relationships. (Joseph, 2013) Ajaz Ahmed, vice-president of digital sport for Nike, states ”Once you have established a direct relationship with a consumer, you don't need to advertise to them”. (Clark, 2010) Nike has placed a whole new repertoire of interactive elements that enable them to communicate directly with their consumers as well as engage them to participate. (Cendrowski, 2012)
Nike Blast concentrates on inspiring and motivating Swedish athletes through offering a wide range of exercise activities, inspirational lectures and powerful shows. (Nikeblast.com) The interesting part of this event is that is not advertised through traditional channels, if it is advertised directly at all. The content almost exclusively comes from their website, their facebook page (appendix 1), Nikes Mastertrainers blogs (jessicaclaren.com; blogger.aftonbladet.se) as well as independent blogs(improveme.se; chic.se; blog.amelia.se; blogspot.se) , twitter (twitter.com), magazines (Fitness-magazine.com) and offline word- of- mouth. Nike claim that the digital world allows the brand to interact more closely with its consumers, inspire and build further relationship with them (Cendrowski, 2012) (Appendix 1)During the past years the awareness and popularity of the convention Nike Blast has increased, and more and more people read, hear and write about it at the social media market place as well as talk about offline. (blogspot.se; blogger.aftonbladet.se; twitter.com)
When shifting to the Web 2.0 the eagerness of entering and participate in the social media is huge for companies. The new rules that lies within this changing environment make them grasp every opportunity they can for becoming visible for their consumers. But in order to truly affect consumers, offline assets shouldn’t be underestimated, misjudged or forgotten. Strategically make offline assets compelling to consumers can foster social media interactivity.
The question about how, when, and where to reach consumers at moments most likely to lead to conversations and engagement Nike Inc. clearly knows the answer to. The offline asset Nike Blast is a good way to build a community, deliver valuable content that is correlated with the brand promise, create interactivity and foster conversation both offline and online. In their strategy they start with focusing on social consumers and then moving on to social media.
People want participation not propaganda-moving ads. Successful brand strategies involves a mutual creation environment, building relationship, enabling interactivity with consumers & facilitate the information shared on the internet. Nike blast event is an excellent way for Nike to meet their consumers, interact, build a relationship with them and truly understand their needs and wants. When the consumer feel engaged, heard, seen and activated they are more likely to contribute to the mutual value creation of the brand. Nike enable the participants to share their involvements and opinions with each other, co-create the feeling and the experience towards The Nike blast and make the brand feel as shared cultural property. This brand community becomes an important recourse for Nike Inc. in the process of building, maintaining and protect the Nike brand. When participant are satisfy with the Nike Blast they will create, share, discuss and recommend the Nike Blast information to numerous fitness and training platforms such as Twitter, blogs, magazines and Facebook. They will spread the Nike brand promise, intensify credibility and bridge the distance between awareness and final sales. Hence their WOM plays a fundamental role in the purchasing of the brand and without it marketing would be far less effective. The Nike blast social media ecology is therefore evidently defined by the consumers’ connectivity and interactivity and the participants clearly become the co-producers of the marketing process and the Nike brand value chain.
A company must however be clear about the story it wants to share with the marketplace. Even though Nike Inc. empowers consumers into the social networking presence their event is clearly dependable by the companies aim. The event persuades the audience with words and action in how the culture should be which further is stated on the Facebook community page as well as on the master trainers blogs. Nike Inc. therefore view their approach to social media as an integrated strategy that brings customers experienced to the forefront in a way that is consistent with the company’s objectives.
Because of the increasing popularity of the Nike blast event as well as the increasing awareness in social media Nike has shown good returns on efforts aimed at carefully coordinating both the event Nike blast and social media, thus correlate and integrate their offline assets with online social media presence. They have revised the marketing playbook rather than rewriting it when exploiting social media opportunities through facebook interaction, blog interaction and further online visibility while keeping a solid focus on meeting customer’s offline needs. Such efforts collectively determine Nikes online visibility and catch the opportunities that lies within the social media market place.
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