A holistic approach to retail and marketing essential to positive brand development

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By Amarnath Halember

A few years ago, businesses were struggling to stay relevant in an oversaturated market when the holistic marketing approach emerged. The USP of the model was to focus on the business as a whole and have all functions work together towards a common goal, to present customers with unified messaging, whether through corporate messaging, advertisements or social media. This system viewed marketing as an integral business function that is also involved in creating a unique brand image and exceptional customer experience, like all other functions. This approach seems suitable for retailers, given the levels of saturation in the market and the need to remain profitable.

Since this approach aligns a retailer’s services, systems and processes, its proper implementation results in a consistent, effective and efficient brand building exercise. This is because the model provides reliable and top-notch customer service that aligns with the in-app messaging and thus wins their favor. Behind the scenes, the approach also aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the business, thus justifying the term “holistic” in its name and providing opportunities for growth.

Unified messaging key

The first thing this model does is to identify a common goal and then let all activities flow from it, based on four main marketing principles, namely relational, internal, integrated and socially responsible. Under the first principle, the brand engages in a successful relationship with its customers to ensure satisfaction, loyalty and brand loyalty; increased profits and word of mouth. With internal marketing exercises, the brand gets employee buy-in, which translates into good customer experience, through sale of goods and services, which leads to overall brand acceptance and recall value among its competitors.

Integrated marketing, another name for unified messaging that retailers need to display on paid, earned, and owned media, is the next pillar that ensures all business functions work together. And finally, socially responsible marketing lets customers know how they are making a difference with their retail purchases as they choose a socially and environmentally responsible brand that believes in the importance of giving back to society.

Why is this change necessary?

For today’s retailers, their market spans both offline and online. With increasing competition, digital spending has increased, which has slightly reduced top sales. To become a true differentiator, retailers must create a unique brand identity that speaks the same language across all mediums. This way, customers can easily identify their favorite brand among the others and opt for it.

Traditionally, retail sales and marketing has been a multi-level effort managed by different functions, which has resulted in a lack of coordinated messaging. The result is a mix of different messages that ends up confusing the consumer. In line with the holistic marketing approach, it works best when marketing and digital along with other functions work together as one team with a defined goal.

For this to work, retailers will need to build a collaborative culture and drive cross-channel performance, creating the necessary unified sales/marketing mix. For example, when search engine optimization and search engine marketing are planned and executed collectively, the result is phenomenal compared to each search marketer working alone. Indeed, distributors now benefit from a holistic view of their digital, sales and marketing performance, with each stakeholder recognizing their role and that of others as well. Therefore, when each step is a mutual effort, performance evaluation and information gathering enable long-term business success.

Holistic marketing: a beneficial model

The comprehensive holistic marketing model is gaining more and more followers in the retail arena as its long-term benefits have begun to capture the attention of market players and leaders. The approach is applauded for creating cohesion in the fabric of the business and linking all functions together, ensuring the same information flows from all brand channels and presenting a cohesive brand story, who owns the opportunities of growth.

No wonder this model is sought after by retailers of all shapes and sizes since it works equally well for everyone. In fact, according to Salesforce, 86% of brand marketers believe it’s important to take this approach because it integrates all aspects of a business, while delivering great ROI with just a few fundamental changes. While repricing sounds like a scary proposition, there are enough examples in the market to show how, without being prohibitively expensive, this model can quickly transform retail businesses. Therefore, although this approach is relatively new, its popularity, based on a consistent retail image and excellent customer experience, is steadily increasing.

(Amarnath Halember is the Executive Director and CEO of NextG Apex India Pvt. Ltd.)

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