Lynx (or Axe) is a reputable brand of the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever that operates internationally in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Specifically, the company offers the products for health, family care, cleaning, and food. The brand represents the grooming sector, namely such products as shower gels, deodorants, and aftershaves. In the United States, the product was introduced back in 2002 after its commercial success in Europe and Latin America (Mortimer, 2016). Lynx is the brand’s localized title for the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand due to the trademark conflicts, while the rest of the world recognizes it as the Axe brand (van den Bergh & Behrer, 2016). The popularity of the product has grown since 2003 due to its simple but straightforward slogan that implies that the product helps young men attract beautiful women (van den Bergh & Behrer, 2016). Lynx has tried to empower men with confidence, which can be seen in various advertisements of it showing that any man can be attractive for a woman if he uses the brand’s product. However, the company is still on the track of performing adjustment to the campaign incentives. With respect to such a claim, this research will further argue that the Lynx brand has been designed in an effective manner to manage consumer recognition in terms of addressing consumer problems, searching for brand information, and predicting buyer behavior, while it certainly requires more attention in terms of adjusting its communication strategies to meet its positioning in a current competitive environment.
Problem Recognition – Theory 1
Murray’s theory of needs could be used to explain the problem recognition process in buying behavior. According to this theory, human actions are explained by the natural state of things that permanently exist in the state of disequilibrium (Li & Zhang, 2014). This state is explained by two types of needs. The first type is biological needs, or those that require humans to seek for the odds of survival such as eating food or drinking water. The second type, or psychogenic ones are broader in interpretation since they comprise 27 items, representing unconscious reactions that provide an insight for the possibility of basic problem resolution. In terms of the Lynx brand, it appeals to the psychogenic nature of humans, particularly males, to communicate the emotional aspect of feeling strong and attractive in addition to the biological needs for survival. According to Li and Zhang (2014), a Lynx consumer could feel that something is required to achieve extraordinary things in the essence of alpha-male concept, which makes such a consumer a subject to be considered under the self-recognition concept, outlined by Murray. For instance, a psychological need to play here constitutes the need of performing actions that would attract women to men in a form of fun, jokes, and humor while still being a male with the ability to demonstrate masculinity attributes. Another need under the psychogenic umbrella is that of recognition, which male consumers might seek in their choice of various flavors and scents, provided by the Lynx brand product, and reflecting on their preferred style or attitudes. Finally, Murray’s theory suggests that males would seek for self-exhibition as the formation of the attitude to be a favorite man for a beloved woman or a respected man for several female acquaintances. Lynx incorporates this into the visual appeal of positioning its product boxes with black color, which is a reference to the strong nature of males as those who are capable of exhibiting themselves as a person of choice for females.
Problem Recognition – Theory 2
Murray’s theory of needs could be complemented with a conformity concept that entitles the need to change individual behavioral traits so that they could fit the behavioral patterns of others. A conformity principle requirement emerges from the information seeking approach, where individuals seek to find the influence of others to fulfil a behavioral pattern, which is yet unknown, or normative influence that arises from the fear of punishment or lack of rewarding behavior (Papyrina, 2012). For the case of Lynx consumers, the conformity concept could be applied with respect to the competitive nature of males who seek for additional ways or principles to look attractive, estimating themselves from information seeking. The latter serves as the point of considering the way rich consumers select perfumes or from a normative approach on how their masculine stance could be adopted by using additional ways of self-attraction. The differentiation point here is that Lynx is the product that is positioned for the younger consumer population, which engages them to conform to the standards of the elder population while still embracing the change in their mindset of behaving like strong individuals. Hence, the Lynx brand stance also points towards the need to change oneself to conform to the choices of elders. On the other hand, the conformity principle emerges from the perception of the Lynx brand among female population. Thus, they are expected to smell the scent of their beloved man with respect to their conscious choice of perfumes and supplementary products.
Information Search – Theory 1
The information search aspect could be explained through the lenses of the elaboration likelihood model (ELM). This model engages a consumer into taking the conscious and central route principle in cases when consumer possesses enough motivation to make a specific choice (Kwon & Nayakankuppam, 2015). They can also assume a peripheral route if presented product arguments are not persuasive enough in terms of purchasing decision (Kwon & Nayakankuppam, 2015). In the ELM terms, a Lynx consumer would portray themselves as a striver and achiever who considers the influence of various primary and secondary groups for their decision-making. Symbolic reference groups could be considered of the greatest importance. One might imagine that a group of classmates or friends might present a significant impact on the decision-making as a reference group in line with the similar contribution from their parents, considering the demographics of target audience. The consumer is the follower of active lifestyle that is supported by such hobbies as yoga, exercising, fitness, traveling, spending time with friends, shopping for the latest trends, and reading. The recreational activities of the consumer include relaxing, entertaining themselves, seeing family, swimming, or going to restaurants. Career inspiration include moving overseas upon completion of the university and finding a job in the sphere of marketing or advertising, with the potential to grow individually as a valued professional of a multinational company. With the above psychographic type, it is assumed that there is a proactive interest to the web resources on top of others, while it should still not exclude television and broadcasting as both recreational and educational media sources for communicating the preference of the Lynx brand over others.
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Information Search – Theory 2
The information search with respect to personal brand positioning is also linked to the theory of opinion leadership. This theory describes the influence of group of individuals or a specific person towards a consumer who seeks for additional information on the massively advertised or communicated product. According to Vigar-Ellis, Pitt, and Caruana (2015), opinion leaders normally act as advisors in terms of possible decisions that could be made in domain-specific regulation that mediate consumer’s psychological perceptions regarding a product, based on information acquired externally. For the case of the Lynx brand, opinion leaders could be found either across the communities of brand followers or with respect to the product development characteristics embraced by Unilever.
It is also important to admit the importance of opinion leadership in terms of online branding communities, which suggests seeking for information from the groups that are entitled to improve the perception of Lynx for the products’ younger target audience. The recent practice of engaging social networkers and social media marketers to this case acknowledges the need for opinion leadership to the similar point. On the other hand, the stance of informal leadership is important in considering how such people could be influential over the choices, made by consumers in controversial discussions. They might not be accountable for a large scope of responsibilities as it is seen for the formal leaders such as brand groups or territory managers who communicate product benefits on behalf of their marketing organization. However, it is likely that they would give a broader perspective for young consumers based on self-reflective behaviors such as showing the nature of the product from advertising perspective or engaging them in the participation in voluntary activities natural to the self-esteem principle.
Purchasing Behavior - Theory 1
The principles of purchasing behavior point to the preference of selecting one or another product in terms of classical conditioning theory. The latter suggests that the process of association is the driving factor that points consumers towards product selection through a stimulus that emerges from perfect or imperfect choice. Wells (2014) admits that such a process typically occurs when the conditioned stimulus undergoes an association with specific environmental attribute, while the neural stimulus denotes a person or object that could be relationally associated with the product one prefers. As a result, the consumer is able to learn about particular product characteristics when two stimuli are merged on the cognitive level of human perception.
The influence of attitudes plays a significant role in the formation of above-mentioned cognition. The definition of attitudes is grounded on the psychological concept of three parts of the mind. These are an affect, which refers to the feelings about an object or situation, a behavioral intention, which describes the motivation of individuals to act in one or another way regarding the object or situation, and a cognition that refers to knowledge generation. Attitudes are the intersections of all three concepts, and they incorporate knowledge, feelings, and motivations toward an object. Hence, attitudes could be explained as mental conditions that comprise feelings, values, and intentions to act in specific ways, making attitudes hard to predict.
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For the case of the brand under discussion, it is obvious that classical conditioning is grounded on the stimuli to make a perfect choice in favor of bringing oneself as male who is able to make a specific choice. This choice makes one superior to other males in comparison. Herewith, one man would likely to reject the need for having the same product that is already used by his acquaintance or friend. Thus, such a move will acknowledge that it will not justify his strong position in cultivating individual performance or competitive stance. Hence, the product line of Lynx includes an artificially-made justification of strength in masculine effect so that one could choose what fits best his individual style or stance to attract a woman.
Purchase Behavior - Theory 2
The ABC model of attitude formations specifies that the significance of each of the aforementioned parts of the mind and the order of the application of these constructs form three different types of attitudes. The first type is formed through standard learning hierarchy, or through thinking, feeling, and then doing. Low-involvement process involves doing, feeling, and then thinking, while experiential learning hierarchy assumes the order of feeling, thinking, and then doing. Thus, an example of a group of teenagers could be considered, where one likes perfumes made by the cosmetics company X, but his friends like another product offered by the same company, claiming that its scent is much stronger. There is another company Y that produces a different brand but with similar scent, but its reputation is damaged due to some recent technology issues. Hence, a consumer will at least try the first choice, possibly switching to this product as the result of attitude change, influenced through subjective norms. This is the case of “feeling-thinking-doing” (Williams, 2014) attitude formation or experimental learning hierarchy. Hence, ABC models allow analyzing attitudes in purchasing behavior from different perspectives.
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The existence of attitudes is explained by the functional theory of attitudes. According to this theory, attitudes exist to serve a particular function that is classified by Katz into four categories (Varvoglis & Surgy, 2014). The first is utilitarian one, and it helps guide individual’s behavior. The second is value-expressive, or a specific expression of a general value applied to particular product. The third is ego-defensive, and this function implies self-protection. The last is knowledge function, or the need for the explanation of meaning. The functional attributes of attitudes are used by marketers to manage and shape them for their own purposes of effective product communication. This is achieved through persuasion, an active effort to change one’s attitude towards a product or an event. Persuasion through communication is a core element of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) that explains the likelihood of an individual to think elaborative about a particular persuasive communication. Hence, if combined, functional theory in conjunction with ELM explains why Lynx consumers would prefer this product in terms of how it communicates its benefits.
Marketing Strategy Recommendations
It is considered that the previous media campaign of the Lynx brand has been extremely successful in reaching the target audience. This means that the campaign will be seen by the majority of the social network community due to the extensive following of newsfeeds. However, lower involvement is estimated by other media channels at the beginning (namely, the first week) of the campaign as television advertisement will not generate awareness to sales conversion so quickly. The reach in printed media will also be high on the average scaling approach, based on the fact that the media block will be seen by practically all consumers. Still, this should be only considered as an added value to other media sources due to the interaction.
Second, the appropriate frequency estimation helps understand how often the target audience needs to see or hear the brand message for this message to have the desired effect. The recommendation is based on the estimation on how the ELM model of various practitioners is applicable to the researched brand, market, and associate changes. It has been decided to reject models that are based on the continuous observations of the markets that have not been changed through times, like the Rossiter model (Mittal, 2015). Instead, it is reasonable to apply Noda’s (2015) model that allows calculating minimum effective frequency based on the reported relevance of marketing factors, messages of creative factors, and media factors. Hence, it is recommended to maintain the lower frequency of advertising based on the following findings. First, the media campaign is not intended to communicate the new brand, overlaying the portfolio of growing and established products by the high market share, brand loyalty, frequent purchase cycles, and high competitive noise. Second, the campaign is new by itself, especially considering its proactive focus on television and broadcasting, where the similar social media campaign has not been populated previously. Third, based on the Australian market media analysis, there is a high media clutter combined with low media attention in different geographies that should be covered to raise sales and brand awareness. The lever of creativity is still considered for certain media and the content population in social media. Therefore, based on the estimated popularity of the media tool, it is recommended to increase frequency from through the beginning until the end of the campaign.
Third, against the findings in conformity principle, several media types have been selected in relevance as described by the principles of awareness and brand recall in line with the peculiarities of the Australian market and budget constraints. In the scope of media plan, one would suggest the optimal media sources that, based on the theoretical observations and research, would fit the objective of Unilever to continue the expansion of the Lynx portfolio to the territory of Australia. These recommendations are based on the market analysis that considers the position of the company and its brands on the market versus the behavior of competitors, as outlined by Williams (2014). Researchers have evaluated various types of communications and possible decisions that will contribute to the further building of the Lynx brand awareness. Additionally, the target audience and their demographic and social profiles have been analyzed, identifying the tastes of consumers and their typical behaviors. Based on these two factors, one can offer possible options for media campaign that considers the internet, television, broadcasting, and media as possible solutions to deliver the desired effect of media campaign. An effective way to deliver this campaign is to use the pulsing method since at the preliminary stage, it is difficult to evaluate whether the campaign would be successful in different scheduling methods (Quinton, 2013). Further, media appearance schedule is suggested based on the source of information and perceived time to hear this information. Maintaining the opinion that a broader context of the target audience research could be applied and all identified consumers could not be reached at once, a possible extension of the research framework would be required.