Vodafone Beckham, Michael Schumacher and Manchester United
Vodafone is the world’s largest mobile telecommunications community, employing over 65,000 staff and with over 130 million customers. The business operates in 26 countries worldwide. Vodafone is a public limited company with listings on the London and New York stock exchanges.
Global recognition of the Vodafone brand is growing as the company rolls out its identity into new markets. However, it retains local names and imagery in markets where this is essential to maintaining the trust of customers.
To help promote its image worldwide, Vodafone uses leading sports stars from high profile global sports, including David Beckham, Michael Schumacher and Manchester United
Vodafone has to be highly visible as ‘the brand to buy’, in order to be the best. Effective marketing is the key to this high visibility.
Marketing involves anticipating customers’ needs and finding the right product or service to meet those needs, thereby encouraging high sales levels. Vodafone goes further by looking to impress on its customers not merely what its products are i.e. features, but also what they can increasingly do i.e. benefits. This involves effective communication.
There is a slowdown in sales of mobile handsets, in some markets like the UK, as the mature part of the product lifecycle is reached. Customers are exposed to a barrage of different images and messages by mobile phone companies, as the competition gets tougher. Vodafone appeals to new customers and aims to keep its existing ones by emphasising the uniqueness of the brand.
Vodafone’s aim is to grow its revenue and improve its profit margin by adding value to its products and services i.e. earning more from each product sold. The ‘Vodafone live!’ service enables customers to use picture messaging and to download polyphonic ring tones, colour games, images and information, through an icon-driven menu.
This service will soon be further enhanced by picture messaging libraries, video clips and video telephony (seeing the person you’re calling) and improving download speeds. Another service is the Vodafone Mobile Connect Card, which enables customers to access their normal business applications on a laptop when out of the office. Such services add value to the product, and high profile effective promotion will help sell these services to existing and new customers.
VODAFONE MARKET MIX
A product with many different features provides customers with opportunities to chat, play games, send and receive pictures, change ring tones, receive information about travel and sporting events, obtain billing information – and soon view video clips and send video messages.
Vodafone live! provides on-the-move information services.
Vodafone UK operates over 300 of its own stores.
It also sells through independent retailers e.g. Carphone Warehouse.
Customers are able to see and handle products they are considering buying.
People are on hand to ensure customers’ needs are matched with the right product and to explain the different options available.
Vodafone wants to make its services accessible to as many people as possible: from the young, through apprentices and high powered business executives, to the more mature users.
It offers various pricing structures to suit different customer groups.
Monthly price plans are available as well as prepay options. Phone users can top up their phone on line.
Vodafone UK gives NECTAR reward points for every 1 spent on calls, text messages, picture messages and ring tones.
Vodafone works with icons such as David Beckham to communicate its brand values.
Above the line
Advertising on TV, on billboards, in magazines and in other media outlets reaches large audiences and spreads the brand image and the message very effectively. This is known as above the line promotion.
Below the line
Stores have special offers, promotions and point of sale posters to attract those inside the stores to buy.
Vodafone’s stores, its products and its staff all project the brand image.
Vodafone actively develops good public relations by sending press releases to national newspapers and magazines to explain new products and ideas.
VODAFONE AND BECKHAM: Why the link?
David Beckham is more than a footballer. He is also regarded as a fashion icon, a caring family man and a nice guy: an overall image that attracted Vodafone to him.
Beckham’s popularity with football fans comes largely from his England team captaincy. As a footballer, he is well regarded around the world. Other young men who might aspire to his success and style also tend to identify with him. He appeals to many females because of his reputation as a fashion and lifestyle icon. He is also married to a female icon in her own right.
Vodafone’s sponsorship of the Manchester United team appeals to a broad section of the global football/sports audience, whereas aspects of Beckham’s broader image have grown to appeal to a much wider section of society. That suits Vodafone, who needs to appeal to different segments of the market.
Beckham’s healthy lifestyle allied to his talent suggests an energy and a controlled passion for life; an image that Vodafone would also like to project for itself. On a football field, Beckham is innovative, creative, exciting; characteristics that Vodafone aspires to. Beckham the family man comes across as caring and empathetic; Vodafone wants people to appreciate that it too understands and cares about what people want and need. Beckham is generally seen as dependable; Vodafone wants to communicate a similar image.