Wanglaoji Herbal Tea’s Marketing Communications Strategy

by Jason Shaw
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Contents

  • Introduction
  • Key issues identified from context analysis
  • Marketing communication objectives and strategy
  • Communication Tactics
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List
  • Bibliography

Introduction

Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is well-known among Chinese consumers, especially due to its elaborate Chinese herbs. It is cold tea that is known to eliminate heat from the body during extreme summer conditions. It is also famous for treating sore throat during dry winters. Apart from that, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea has been used to treat people with depression and stress and excessive alcohol or fried food intake. As a result, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is more than a simple herbal tea and is known to have healing properties. Wanglaoji is been ranked among the top five famous brands in China and continues to grow its market share as well as brand recognition among Chinese and non-Chinese consumers.

The objective of the present study is to prepare a strategic internal marketing communications plan for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea. A previously completed context analysis helped in identifying key internal and external issues, which will be discussed in the next section. Taking cue from the context analysis, strategic communications plan will be conceptualized with respect to present marketing conditions, distribution and market space and promotional objectives of Wanglaoji Herbal Tea.

Wanglaoji Herbal Tea's Marketing Communications Strategy

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Key Issues Identified from Context Analysis

  1. The tea market is dominated by five brands, Tetley, PG Tips, Lipton, Betties and Taylors and Himani. Currently, Tetley is the market leader with 27 percent share (Research and Markets, 2014). Even though Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is gaining popularity among health drinkers, the current market is still low compared to normal tea makers.
  2. As a result of increasing awareness among consumers regarding health benefits and negative effects of excessive caffeine or tea, more number of established tea and coffee brands are entering into the herbal tea market, intensifying competition for Wanglaoji (Armstrong and Kotler, 2012).
  3. Big companies such as, Tetley and Coca-Cola, pose threat to Wanglaoji as they have captured high share of market and have the advantage of sophisticated and big budget marketing and communications plan.
  4. The advertising expense of Guangzhou is higher than average industry, which might be a constraint while entering the English market. The company has limited capital to invest in the English market. Hence, the company is at present unable to spend on big-budgeted campaign, which might be a weakness, when compared to the high budgets of other beverage companies present in the UK market.
  5. Organizational identity is another issue identified during internal context analysis. While Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is a well-known and recognized brand among Chinese people, it has achieved this recognition majorly through word-of-mouth advertisement. When establishing itself in the UK market, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea might face an acute challenge of identity crisis among numerous existing local and internal tea and coffee brands in the market (Balmer and Gray, 2003).
  6. Market expertise can be one of the major issues faced by Wanglaoji Herbal Tea while entering into the UK market. The company has not yet penetrated into any of the European market, which shows lack of market knowledge and research about competitors and their offerings, consumers and their demands and consumption patterns.
  7. While external context analysis of UK market shows good opportunities for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea, the market is filled with many large and small tea and coffee brands, which could intensify competition. Also, English customers are more loyal to their national brands and products and Wanglaoji Herbal Tea will have to be extremely careful while positioning itself in the UK market.

Marketing Communication Objectives and Strategy

Basically, these strategies thrust upon few important keywords, which are informing, persuading and reminding the target audience about company offerings. In an ideal marketing communication strategy, the above keywords should occur in a repetitive cycles. Nonetheless, in real world, these strategies are faced with numerous barriers such as, conflicts, negative publicity and competition (Baines, Fill and Page, 2008; Varey, 2002). Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is planning to launch its tea brand in England. Taking cues from the above theories, an extensive communications strategy and objectives have been prepared.

Creating Brand Awareness About the Brand to The Target audience

Brand awareness is not limited to new service or product, but can be applied to existing brands penetrating into a new market. Several channels can be used for delivering the brand message such as, online, direct main, television, radio and social media (Henley, Raffin and Caemmerer, 2011; Wheeler, 2003).

In order to implement the above marketing communication strategy, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea has outlined strategic objectives;

  1. Successful penetration of the United Kingdom market through brand building and generating awareness by 50 percent in one year and 75 percent in the next year.
  2. Increase overall advertisement and communication budget by 25 percent for next 4 quarters.
  3. Penetrate 35 percent of UK market in terms of distribution within one year of launch.

Successfully Create Need for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea Among Target Audience

The second strategy specifically aims at persuading the target audience to buy offerings from Wanglaoji Herbal Tea. Here positioning of the company will be strategized. Being a new beverage in an already competitive tea market, Wanglaoji will have to pursue creative objective to achieve competitive edge (Ferrell and Hartline, 2010). Few of the strategic communication objectives for this long-term strategy can be;

  1. Launch persuasive and creative marketing campaign with attractive incentives such as, money-back offer if the consumer is not satisfied with quality.
  2. Gain competitive advantage by offering Wanglaoji Herbal Tea at a competitive pricing or opting for a price skimming strategy with heavy advertisements for target audience.
  3. The brand can launch special diet tea and drinks for health and quality conscious consumers, thereby broadening its customer base.

Keeping The Consumer Engaged and Encouraging Repeat Purchase Through Regular and Persuasive Marketing and Communications Strategy

For long-term growth and development of the brand, is it essential that customer becomes brand loyal or at least is a repeat purchaser. Hence, long-term communication strategy also includes reminding them of the brand and its unique offerings through regular advertisements and so on (Marieke, 2004). At the same time, long-term communication strategy also aims to increase revenue per customer through cross-selling and up-selling activities as well as word-of-mouth advertising (David, 2011; Holm, 2006).  

  1. Consumer purchase can be enhanced through partnerships with local groceries, supermarkets and hypermarket chains, increasing availability of the product.
  2. Market penetration can be further enhanced by partnering with online food retailers across United Kingdom.

Communication Tactics

Communication Tactics include a range of valid and comprehensive activities, which have been identified for advertising, branding and promotion of Wanglaoji Herbal Tea in the UK market. The marketing communications tactics will include targeting the right audience, defining goals and developing message, selecting appropriate channels, determining appropriate communications mix and measuring and optimizing the communications process through regular auditing and monitoring (Ottesen, 2001).

Target Audience: The target Audience for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea will be consumers who are regular tea drinkers and prefer high quality tea. These consumers fall in the age group of 25-40 comprising middle or high income groups with higher than average disposable income. At present, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea’s price range is 30 percent higher than average industry price range. So, affordability of the target market will be a big factor while establishing communications strategy and tactics (Michael, et al., 2004).  

Key message: A communications plan cannot be successful without a strategic and target audience oriented message (Jones, 1999). Wanglaoji Herbal Tea is recognised for its herbal and curing properties. So, it will be primarily positioned as a health drink offering extra benefits such as, curing throat infections and headaches. This message will provide competitive advantage to Wanglaoji. In order to strategically communicate the key message to target audience, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea will require mass advertisement strategy/tactic.

Communication Channels: The advertisement will be spread through personal and non-personal communication channel. Personal communication channel will include telephonic calls regarding feedback and complaint handling, internet chat facilities, customer discussion forums in the office, email marketing and product trails. Non-personal communication tactics will include out-of-home advertisements, print and television advertisements, store promotions, street marketing and online media marketing (Palmer, 2009; Baack, 2007). These communication tactics are described in details below;

Product trials: Product trails can be an effective strategy for increasing consumer persuasion and subsequent purchase. Giving consumers the opportunity to touch, taste and use the product before actual purchase not only enhances brand prestige, but also ensures that the brand is perceived as trustworthy and customer oriented. Using this concept, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can gain competitive advantage by way of establishing both long scale and door-to-door trials on request (Leonard, Seiders and Grewal, 2002).

Direct mails and referral: Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can use email as an informative channel through which they can inform customers about the brand as well as health benefits of tea. Direct mails can also be utilized by creating unique design, size or format, so that customers are able to notice them. Product referrals can be established by giving incentives to the present customers. However, customers should not be forced or compelled as this might lead to negative brand image. Product referrals can be used for increasing footfall and participation during product trails, discount offers at stores, online promotions and street campaigns (Fill, 1999).

Inviting customers to the company office: A unique way through which Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can receive customer feedback, queries and other useful information as well as enhance their relationship with the brand is by inviting customer groups on a regular basis. Discussion about the brand, its availability and quality as well as taste or preferences among consumers can foreground important inputs for future product developments or alterations (Proctor, 2000). These consumer discussions can be more beneficial compared to focus group interviews as they provide a direct view of consumers’ lifestyle and demand patterns.

Television campaign: Appropriate communication channels for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea would be large scale television campaign, magazine advertisement and online advertisement. While financial constraints may limit a large scale television campaign, Wanglaoji can still launch a television campaign for its target audience with limited air time and lesser frequency (Jobber and Fahy, 2003).

Print Magazines: Print magazines can be an efficient channel whereby Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can advertise its competitive offerings. The beverage company can enter into contracts with health related magazines as well as those targeting the youth. This will help in simultaneously generating awareness about healthy tea drinking habit as well as consumer awareness regarding Wanglaoji brand. This campaign can be supported by a 24×7 customer service facility providing information about the newly launched brand to enthusiastic customers (Rossiter and Percy, 1997).

Online Advertising and Webinars: Online advertising is becoming an important part in any communications plan. Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can utilize the online advertising as it will be cost effective and will reach potential customers in a faster manner compared to traditional advertising channels. Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can buy space in renowned health related websites and display its logo and promotional message. The company can also attract customers by providing offers and discounts on these websites (LePla and Parker, 2002; Kang, 2006). Better graphics, visuals and pictorial representation will generate qualitative and higher brand awareness for Wanglaoji Herbal Tea.

Another tactic that Wanglaoji can apply is that of increasing awareness among consumers about health benefits of tea by the way of providing quality testimonials and online consultation regarding health issues. Online media can also be used for promoting online webinars. These webinars are comparatively less expensive and with regular communication can involve huge customer base. Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can conduct webinars in collaborations with local media partners wherein the latter will provide list of potential customers, which can be targeted for promotions and branding. Furthermore, these online webinars can also be used for inbound marketing activities such as, gathering information on customer perception, demands and purchase patterns (Gurau, 2008).   

Out-of-home advertisements: Out-of-home advertisements will be an important factor during the initial stage of brand awareness. Out-of-home advertisements tools such as, billboards, posters and flyers, increase the frequency of brand recalls (Yeshin, 2006). Wanglaoji can strategically place billboards in busy traffic areas across UK. Also, major transportation mediums such as, buses, cabs and metro, will be targeted through posters and flyers. Wanglaoji can enter contracts from three months to one year with local transportation authorities for exclusive promotion of its brand.

In-store promotions and marketing: In-store promotions and marketing of Wanglaoji Herbal Tea will enhance brand building activities and increase awareness about health benefits of the product. These in-store promotions can be in the form of flyers, newsletters, posters for mass communication and in-store trials as well as discount offers for high-end customers (Percy and Elliot, 2005). Other promotional material such as, brochures, can also be distributed through in-store promotions.

Sponsorship: Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can sponsor local sports events, fairs, arts festivals and charity events, especially in their niche target market. This association will help in generating positive consumer awareness as well as in establishing a strong bond between the company and locals. Associating with events and experiences also increases credibility and prestige among target consumers. Even so, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea should choose those events, which compliment the company’s corporate and brand image and positively associate with the customers. For instance, the company can sponsor local football and cricket associations, cookery events as well as local food shows. Apart from that, these events and sponsorships will also be a channel where executives and stakeholders can meet directly and provide instant feedback to customers on both products and marketing campaigns (Drejer, 2002; Fifield, 2007).

Street marketing: A unique approach whereby Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can connect with its consumers is street marketing. The major difference between street marketing and outdoor marketing is that former is implemented in more unconventional and unique places compared to the conventional and tried places employed by outdoor marketing (Guffey, 2008). For instance, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can utilize unique street areas such as, subway stairs, roof of buses and train terminals, 3D images on roads, floor of swimming pool in hotels benches in parks and road crossings. In addition, Wanglaoji Herbal Tea can employ people for distributing free sachets of Wanglaoji Herbal Tea as samples (Keller, 2008).  

Press release: Press release and conference can be effective communication channels for sharing critical information with the media as well as consumers. Press releases are important as they provide huge exposure and visibility and are relatively inexpensive. Wanglaoji Herbal Tea should ensure that they conduct press releases on a regular basis such as, alternate months, concerning latest developments and offerings of the company. Regular press conferences and releases will establish the company as an expert in the beverage industry (Haberberg and Rieple, 2008).

Conclusion

For any successful marketing and advertisement campaign, precise marketing objectives and strategies is very necessary. The objective of the study was to prepare a strategic communications plan for the tea brand. The brand planned to launch itself in a new market and needed a strategic communication and promotions plan. A context analysis helped in establishing a base for further study as well as identifying the external and internal issues of Wanglaoji Herbal Tea. For Wanglaoji Herbal Tea, marketing strategies helped in defining long-term aims and goals of the organization, besides throwing light upon its vision. These long-term marketing strategies were further divided into short-term objectives aiding in fulfilment of the marketing communication strategies. One the objectives and issues were identified, proper action plan was taken through promotions and communications strategies. These included communication tactics, promotion tactics as well as online strategies. With the help of these strategies and promotional tactics, it is expected that Wanglaoji Herbal Tea will be able to achieve its objective of successful launch in United Kingdom.

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