Guest post – Danielle Cudmore, IMC 2012-2013 student

Integrating marketing communications is integrating into my life!

Our instructors have all mentioned how we won’t be able to go into public without looking at a sign, or a logo, etc. and analysing how it is targeting a specific audience, or how its colour and font choices will impact the reader. I agreed with them; yes, at some point I will be completely consumed by these thoughts. Little did I know it would be before the first month of our program was over!

Last night as I sat waiting for my dinner in Zoup!, my eyes wandered around the restaurant, painted in warm brown hues with burgundy accents, and I thought to myself how cozy. Then I caught myself. All of those decisions: the paint, the upholstery, the fonts used in all signage were designed to create that emotion – comfort.

Today as we ventured to Zehrs we were asked to dive deeper into that mindset, to watch the consumers do as they do, and to acknowledge the consumer within all of us. In an environment I experience weekly, I felt as though I was walking through a new place, taking in each angle for the first time.

Observing the customers was fascinating. My group observed both milk and tampons, with a small, separate focus on baby products. For both milk and tampons, customers automatically approached a specific brand and product at a level of brand insistence, meaning they bought their preferred product even though there were almost identical products available at a cheaper rate.

The baby products are where the pattern changed. We observed one woman crouched on the ground taking minutes to examine and compare the health information. Arguably, this adjustment is for the benefit of the baby, and had we followed this woman throughout her entire grocery shop we could potentially see the same automatic approach to daily products as the other customers chose.

While this data is showing a positive correlation, I do believe that had we been located at a Zehrs closer to Conestoga or one of the two universities in Waterloo that we would see more price matching/net worth calculations taking place as students are more likely to pinch pennies.

In reflecting then, I’ve realized that integrated marketing communications has got me yet again. While our trip was created to aid us in honing our branding and advertising skills, it also benefited me in terms of consumer research, specifically the importance of sample size.