The following is an E-business Digital marketing assignment sample. Hello Kitty is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio (www.sanrio.com), first designed by Yuko Shimizu. Sanrio is a world-wide designer and distributor of character-branded stationery, school supplies, gifts, and accessories and are best known for Hello Kitty, the star character and corporate symbol.
Figure 1 – Home page of www.sanrio.com
Sanrio is based in Japan, but has expanded into the European and American markets. Started as a brick and mortar organisation in the late 70s in Japan and has expanded into the European and American markets based on the online strategy. While in Japan it is directly selling through customised shops in the case of the European and American markets, the products are sold through retailers or directly to the customers through the online channel. The unique selling proposition of the company is the concept of gift giving and enriching the interpersonal relationship between the customers. The product range of the company includes apparel is, banks, jewellery, electronic items, travel items, greeting cards, toys etc. There is uniqueness in the product range of the company, based on the brand element, and in Japan hello Kitty is a popular brand based on unique cartoon-based characters. The concept of fun and branding based on the catchy phrase of hello Kitty has propelled the company to engage with more customers and develop uniqueness to its product range. As mentioned before, the company was having a brick and mortar business, mainly based in Japan, but have expanded into European, American, Latin American markets on the back of the online sales strategy. But even now, the company is concentrating on the brick and mortar business where its products are sold through the retail outlet is all across the globe. The products of the company are targeted at pre-adolescent girls there are some ranges which are targeted towards the older ages as well. Since the purchase decisions for these target segment is made by the parents of grown-ups and those who would like to provide gifts to these children, the marketing and advertising strategy has a dual targeting strategy. The branding of the organisation is based on the fictitious character of hello Kitty, the relevance of which has been lost for some time as the products have evolved into more complex varieties. But the organisation still relies on the brand image created by hello Kitty, and this is probably much stronger in the home country of Japan than in any other country. When considering the price of the different products, it can be seen that most of them is targeted at the upper-middle-class segment.
When analysing the online portal of the company, it can be seen that the entire concept of designing the website is based on an informal approach. Products are given names which attract the attention of the target segment, and even the segmentation is also based on different age categories. When considering the branding strategy, the concept of “small gift, big smile” is the tagline utilised by the company and all the graphics and images are consistent with the fun loving concept of the products promoted by reorganisation. The company has a policy of promoting itself to the social networking channel of Facebook, and also has a blog where the customers can upload the photos, the paintings done by small children, activities conducted by the organisation in children’s workshop, etc. Considering the personalisation and customisation, the website is offering the customisation of products based on category, character, age and on occasion. A mere glance of the products of the company indicate a huge number of products and one customer has provided a post in the Facebook page, which indicates that the company has around thousand varieties of products catering to different age ranges, occasion, character and category.
The branding of the website is done, based on the consideration of appealing to the female characteristics of colour, character and appeal.
Figure 2 – Home page
In E-business, Digital marketing the purpose of branding is to develop a single identity for the product and the organisation, which is differentiated from those of the competition. A brand is an identification mark, made up of a combined set of impressions and expectations that a customer has as a result of the interactions with the organisation, the products and the services of a period of time (Pride and Ferrell, 2011). Branding conveys a message and develops an emotion to the products of the company in the minds of the customer (Hindle, 2008). Many researchers have considered that when organisations develop their online strategy, they essentially duplicate off-line branding strategy to the online portal, and in many situations, it has been found that the online strategy of developing the brand identity and image has provided significant results. The website can be considered as an international media of communication, which is accessible to anyone and everyone looking for information on the Internet and is addressing the international clientele. Hence it is necessary to develop the branding characteristics, image and identity in line with the international characteristics of the clientele (Pride and Ferrell, 2011). In an E-business, Digital marketing, off-line strategy of branding, the advertisement and marketing communication messages are targeted at a specific segment within a region and different styles of advertisements can be developed to target at the front that begins with varying demographic characteristics. Hence, the same organisation will be able to develop different types of brand images and identities, even though having many similarities in it. But in the case of my branding strategy to be adopted over the online channel, it is necessary that the international demographical patterns and characteristic needs to be evaluated as the website is not only targeting a specific segment of the customers in a particular region but is available to the international customers.
It could be because of this reason that the company has developed a separate site for the European customers were prominences provided for hello Kitty brand name. The European website is different from that of the occasion and the American websites and has been developed in order to properly manage the branding strategy. One essential reason for developing different websites with different communication messages for Europe, Asia, America and Japan could be because of the differences in the cultural and social characteristics, and also because of the different types of festivals and occasion in these countries. The festival is and occasions in Asia and the social and cultural characteristics of the population are different from that of Europe and in America. By having different websites, the company is able to target and develop a brand image of the products in different regions although most of the concepts associated with branding are similar. The focus, the target segment and the philosophy of the organisation is same across the markets, but due to the differences in social and cultural characteristics, and also the different types of festivals and occasions which are coming in times of the year, it is necessary to develop different websites. Necessarily the branding concept is also different, only to a minor degree although differences can be perceived in the different websites. The characters and concepts of the product in the European market and in the Asian market are different in the sense that, although the products are the same, the association of these products are different and are relevant to the social and cultural framework of the region.
Overall, when analysing the E-business, Digital marketing, branding strategy it can be said that the philosophy and concepts the company has adopted is to target the female segment of the population, and also to those individuals who would like to give presents on different occasions, to little children. But there is a difference in the branding based on the region in which the company operates and the different websites developed in order to cater to these regions.
Marketing through the electronic channels have provided exciting opportunities or organisation to interact with the customers but according to Verma, (2009), the digital media is more consumer driven than traditional media. Consumer generated content is having a profound effect on marketing, and there are websites, blogs and social networking channel through which the consumers are able to interact with each other based on interest and commonalities (Li, 2007). Consumers are creating and reading consumer generated content, and due to the proliferation of the websites, and the availability of Internet across the globe, there are potential advantages and disadvantages to organisations. Some of the major trends which have been witnessed in the recent years, is the involvement of consumers in publishing their opinions, reviews and developing product discussion through blogs and the tendency of the consumer to trust each other than the marketing communications of the organisation (Kidd, 2000). It has been proven by research that consumers often rely on the recommendations of friends and colleagues and the fellow members when making purchase decisions and the traditional word of mouth concept of marketing is now being moved onto the digital media. The word of mouth marketing through the association of like-minded individuals over the social networking channel is providing an opportunity for organisation to harness its power over the online channel.
The company has a policy of promoting itself through the different social networking channels such as Facebook, and also through its internal blogs. Quite relevant to the different branding strategies and different websites, the Facebook channels also have different regionalisation. It can be seen that in, even through the social networking channel, the company is mindful of the social and cultural characteristics and has developed different. Facebook pages for each region. This is one of the singular identifying features which differentiate the organisation from that of other companies who most often develop a single page in order to communicate with the entire customer base. The company has also blogs in different websites and analysis of these blogs indicates that the content of them for different regions are different again providing a differentiation based on the social and cultural characteristics and the different festive seasons in the region.
E-business, Digital marketing, Marketing through social networking has become a concept for modern-day business organisation, but since the company is targeting at an age range, which are not allowed to access the social networking sites such as Facebook, it has developed a blog where the customers can upload the photos, paintings, etc. Due to the differences in the social and cultural characteristics in different regions, the nature of the blog is also different. In order to promote the website further, the company has introduced several online games, which are provided free of cost to the customer’s and mainly intended at the children. One of the prime characteristics of the blog is that it is mainly intended at the pre-adolescent and not for the adults. The design of the blog is done in such a way that the different products, particular to different locations are provided at the side-lines as an advertisement in order to attract the customers, which are mainly the children. On the blogs also have cartoons, games and other activities which can be done on a computer, which has the ability to attract the attention of the customers. A mere glance of the different blogs indicates that there is a huge following for the company in different regions, and especially in Japan and in America.
Mass customisation is a new frontier in business, petition for both manufacturing and service based industries. There is a tremendous increase in the variety and customisation provided to the needs and requirements of the individual customers without a corresponding increase in cost and this is most possible through the utilisation of technology which can be used to personalise the website (Chaffey, 2008). Concept of mass customisation was developed in the manufacturing industry in order to combine the elements of mass production with those of bespoke tailoring (Hindle, 2008). Products are adapted to meet the customer’s individual needs. When the development of the website is considered, it can be seen that due to the interactivity of the website and the technology which can be utilised in designing the website, personalisation of the presentation can be made based on specific customer requirements (Jackson, Harris and Eckersley, 2003). Online businesses focus on customer interaction with an emphasis on organisation and ease of navigation to make sure that the customers have a pleasant experience with website (Canzer, 2005). Customisation is usually performed by generating adaptive Web pages or personalised webpages. Another system is to involve adaptive Web systems which adapt content in accordance with the user models (Li, 2007).
When analysing the customisation conducted by the company through the online channel it can be seen that the development of different website itself is a form of customisation although in the traditional sense, it could be theoretically be considered as differentiation. The company has developed different websites with different content suitable for the target population in different regions such as Asia, Europe and America and this is a singular form of customisation. The customers in the Asian continent are seeing different content from that of the customers in Europe and America which is personalised to their own particular social and cultural attitudes. Moreover, the company is mindful of the festive seasons and occasions and this is one reason for the customisation for the different target regions. The blogs, the Facebook page, the language etc. are all the other types of differentiation or personalisation based on region.
Apart from this, the company has also categorised the products based on category of such as apparel, bags, jewellery, school and office, greeting cards, electronics and music, toys, etc. There is also the categorisation and personalisation based on shopping by character, by age and by occasion.
These are major types of customisation provided by the organisation to the customers and can be said to be highly effective, because the decision-makers for the purchasers of these products are not the actual end customers or the uses. The end users of the products are very small kids and children who get these products either as a gift from their parents or relatives, friends etc. The type of customisation provided by the company, based on character, age, occasion etc. help the individuals to decide upon the products to purchase. But when analysing the different types of customisation provided by the website, it can be seen that there are different segments of products available through the website and is also customised based on the social and cultural characteristics of the region where the products are sold.
From the analysis of the E-business, Digital marketing, branding, the marketing concepts through social networking and the personalisation and mass customisation provided by the website, it is seen that the company has developed a highly strategic business model for the Internet. The development of different websites catering to different regions and providing customised content is an indication of the differentiation and customisation concept adopted by the organisation. They differentiation customisation, which is seen in the products for the different social and cultural situations and backgrounds is echoing in the design of the websites. The concept of branding, although based on a single philosophy of fun and gift to children, there is a bit of differentiation based on the social and cultural aspects of the country. The customisation is also seen in the marketing and branding as well as the content in the social networking channels and the blogs of the company. Although the concept of developing different websites, with the different domain names even though having similarity is the unique concept, there is bound to be confusion when an individual strays onto a different website from the main website of the organisation. Moreover the branding concepts even though having high levels of similarity are having a differentiation based on the social and cultural situation. The company is not delivering a unique set of message to the customers across the globe and this could be a significant and potential threat to the company going forward. An organisation should promote a singular brand concept, even though it can have certain level of differentiation. But the analysis of the different websites for the different regions indicate that the adoption of different domain names itself even though could be based on a potential differentiation strategy might create problems in the future because of the lack of uniqueness of the message.
The recommendations based on the E-business, Digital marketing limitation or the disadvantage of the differentiation in the domain names for the different regions is that the company should plan and design the development of the website based on a unique brand name but with different associations or differentiation for the regions where it is serving. Hence it is necessary to have a unique identifying domain name with extensions different based on different regions. The internet marketing based on search engine optimisation would also be easy based on this approach.
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