Today’s world is influenced by many factors such as globalization, cultural influences and the presence of the open market. Europe is a fine proof of this influence as it is more open for international business. Products from around the globe can be accessed by all types of consumers in the European market. Many find the European market more open to international businesses. Some find their successes in the European market through the use of good market analysis. Brooksbank (1991) notes that good market analysis is a key to the successful marketing plan;; it gives companies advice which will decrease miscommunication and misinterpretation, it helps to create business communications without borders.
At the same time it gives a specific idea how to achieve companies’ goal set for the new market.
In the case of the beer industry, good market analysis is important especially if it is a new brand and entering another economy. One example to this is the IKI beer. IKI beer is a new brand of beer which was successfully launched in 2006 in the Dutch market. Since then, the brand took its place in the Dutch brewery market as one of the high end beers in the market. In the company’s own words (iKi website), “iKi is Japanese for life and iKi beer helps you enjoy it.” The company’s website recounts the history of the iKi beer, which started from a group of beer lovers who have combined numerous formulas to locate the perfect blend of beer they wish the public to experience. The team was led by Mr Aronl, who came up with the idea of creating a unique beer with combination of green tea and Yuzu. iKi team works closely with Liefmans brewery in Belgium in order to produce this special blend of beer. A few years later and after basking the success they have received in the Dutch market, the team is now trying to make a name in the Polish market. This venture of the iKi team is similar with the other types of businesses around the globe, who have set goals to expand their market and increase the number of consumers who love the product. Companies new to a market are advised to pay close attention to intercultural communication if they are to be successful (James P Johnson et al, 2006 p. 529). According to reports in the field of intercultural communication, it is a very important to be aware of all external and internal aspects that can persuade the public of the product’s message or else, it may not be as productive in terms of getting supporters.
1.1 Research question
The Polish community has a tricky market and it will be a challenge to make sure all the intercultural differences and trends will be properly applied in the brand. It is necessary for the company to locate certain methods to create awareness, but how can they do it?
For the producers of the iKi beer, entering the Polish market the challenge will be to entice the curious public. There is a need for a distinct well-written marketing and communications plan that takes into account all the intercultural differences, trends in brand and drinking as well as the preferences of the potential market not only in Poland but around the Central European area. The company has to introduce, persuade and sell to the Polish market and without a particular strategy to aid them; it would be very tricky to remove all the claims with regards to the product.
For this paper, the main question to be considered and answered is:
"In what way can iKi beer generate awareness as “the beer that helps you enjoy life” among potential Polish customers in 2012?"
In support of the main question, these sub-questions will also shed light into the influential factors that have been used for this paper:
What advantages do competitors have that are already producing and/or distributing beer in the Polish market?
What is the current trend in both beverage and beer consumption in the region?
What are the preferences of the potential market in terms of alcoholic beverages?
What are the current misconceptions and common remarks when it comes to consuming beer both local and foreign?
How can the company influence and introduce to the Polish market a new product such as the iKi beer?
What are the possible implications and factors that must be considered upon the creation of the strategy to introduce the brand?
Other questions would be raised in the conclusion and recommendations for future research regarding this issue.
1.2 Significance of the Study
For this study, it aims to tackle the trends in the beverage and beer industry and how companies try to enter new markets, without risking the good name it has created in the markets they have already entered into. This study intends to convey to its readers the efforts done by these companies to introduce new blends and products, to add up to the norm of local products. Although it may seem to be as an insult to local producers, these new brands serve as a variety for the consuming public if they wish to enter into something new. Knowing how one brand can promote their name to the new market it wishes to venture gives one an insight as to how these brands make their name and what they can do to get the attention of the consuming public.
Another goal of the study is to recognize the possible methods and procedures that the brands, not just iKi beer, could utilize to promote awareness and prove their slogan as one of the high-end beer to be produced. Many ads are sometimes empty and many are left unsatisfied if they try out brands that claim they are the best. The companies must be able to answer the question “why they should be given a chance in this market?” Once they have answered this through the methods and procedures they have done to introduce the product, they can be assured that they can receive the fruits of their campaign to raise awareness in the new market. Lastly, this paper can also serve as a secondary source concerning either promotional campaigns for beers in new markets, beer trends or market responses to new products and brands to serve as an overview. It would also explain to the general public the idea on how these brands make a name for themselves in the market and stay as a household name. This study also shows how consumers react to the new product or brand introduced to them.
Scope and Limitations
This study will focus on sources that discuss studies, critiques and responses as to how beer brands such as iKi market try to promote their name in the new market they wish to venture. Most of the sources would be acquired from books, journals, news clippings and articles written since the announcement of the brand to venture into the Polish market. This period is quite flexible as articles are precise with the changes and procedures the company has used in their market ventures. As part of the literature review, the study would be using sources that explain how businesses utilize methods to promote their brand through intercultural communications. The scope will also include a close analysis on the consumers in the Polish market and the influential factors that may affect the schemes enforced by the iKi BV group upon their venture to the Polish market.
A limitation for this paper has met is the insufficient secondary sources regarding the subject on the iKi beer. Some of the articles are written in another language, which makes it a limitation to the study. Some of the sources, books, journals and articles are also limitations as they are expensive for purchase. Some have incomplete details as to how it can properly relate to the topic. This paper will not, however, consider the iKi beer’s performance in the Dutch market as this would be a long argument to understand if it is to be compared with the Polish market.
This research will utilize several research methods to answer the main and sub-questions for this study. With the goal to understand a specific scheme to introduce the iKi beer to a new market such as the Polish market; these research methods will help in understanding the methods to promote the product.
For the primary research of this paper, a survey will be conducted to determine the census of the public with questions designed to elicit consumer’s drinking preferences and perception of brands. Secondary research will cover different sources such as online articles, books and journal studies.
This paper also uses desk research to find out the trends in the Polish market and the preferences of the target market of the iKi beer. Most of the sources are taken from the internet and books regarding communication and marketing. Both quantitative and qualitative research is used for this research due to the nature of the questions raised in for this study. The qualitative research includes an interview with an employee of iKi Beer BV, Mr. Luit Mulder (as seen in appendix 1) and the answers for the research question. The interview will provide insight about the iKi beer and the expansion plans of the brand, which will help in the topic. Advices from specialists, branding experts and the survey responses will also be included in the quantitative research method used for this study. The survey method is a powerful marketing communications model, as the primary research obtained from respondents’ opinions will result in the creation of practical marketing strategies, aimed directly at those consumers’ preferences. These strategies can hone in on the psychological aspects of brand perception and address the consumers’ perceived “needs”.
The quantitative research involves the use of survey questionnaires, distributed around the area of Poznan, Poland, especially in pubs and restaurants. For this research, at least 107 respondents have currently answered our survey. Through this survey, the answers will serve as a basis as to how the proposed scheme for the iKi beer will be created. In addition, research has taken into account the concepts of Brand Awareness and Brand Positioning Theory.
Brand awareness refers to the ability of customers to recognize a brand through its name. Building brand awareness is a strong asset especially for new and unknown brands. Customers usually have trust in a well-known brand especially if the name sticks into their mind. The more chances the brand remembered by the public, there is a great chance that the brand will be purchased by the product of the brand. Brand awareness should be taken into account while developing marketing strategy. Brand awareness consists of 5 factors:
Performance, which “refers to the extent to which the product meets the customer’s utilitarian, aesthetic and economics needs and wants” it is one of the most important aspect of brand awareness as it refers to meeting customer’s needs. In the case of iKi beer, this factor will measure the amount of consumers buying the beer. This also determines the output of the beer and what can be improved on the product. Performance also includes following aspects:
a) Attributes and benefits- it refers to the profits the products offer.
b) Style, price- a nice style and design can appeal to the customer’s need of visualization. The price is important because customer can judge if the product is inexpensive or expensive, and whether they can trust it or not. Style of iKi is simple but classy.
c) Quality-it’s a customer judgment about the products quality and overall performance. It is very important because it determine purchase of the product.
Imagery and feelings are linked to the psychological and social need of the customer and how well the product fulfills those needs. It is linked to what the customers thinks about the product and what kind of feelings they get when they think about the product. It is a very important aspect, as iKi should be associated with the feeling of enjoyment and high quality.
Brand personality simply means that all brands have a personality. It is an idea to give life to a brand and create attention over it and shove out other products on the market. Customers would likely to love the iKi brand’s personality, through proper promotion, as it associates to warm bonding with friends and family.
Brand feelings respond with customer’s emotional responses to the product. It is a very important asset of brand equality. Brand feelings lead to emotional connection to the brand and related to its advantages. iKi wishes to bring to its potential clientele good memories while having this beer while with family and friends.
Brand loyalty pertains to every brand’s aim to have loyal customers who choose their product over others available on the market. Good perception of the product becomes the foundation of the supporting trend. Customer must be constantly reminded about the value of the product to them and stay loyal to the brand.
Strategies for brand awareness:
Brand Awareness will be reached through different forms of advertising and promotional campaigns. According to Brassington & Pettitt (2006) Advertising should be done in three stages: Pioneer advertising (1st stage) competitive stage (2nd stage) and comparative stage (3rd stage) . The product will be launched in spring, wherein customers will get samples to try the iKi beer.
Alluring customers drinking samples will entice others to taste the product, thereby creating interest over the small event. Free samples will also be provided in restaurants, markets and clubs. Launching the iKi hour will also enable customers to get an idea of the iKi beer as two bottles of this beer will be charged as one. This concept is derived from the Happy Hour in most restaurants and bars in the US and Asia.
Desire will be created through appealing to the emotions clients will have upon tasting the product. Desire motivates customer behaviour habits, which is important in establishing brand awareness. If properly utilized, the iKi beer will be connected to these positive feelings.
Action will be achieved through promotion and advertising. Here, the advertising campaigns will be placed in different media mediums (culinary magazines, outdoor media. This will then reach more customers who are reading, watching or listening to these mediums.
Brand awareness can also be created through the introduction of the company’s philosophy. As the samples of the products are distributed, this allows iKi samplers a taste of the company’s intentions in the market. With the AIDA principle, this would then mark in the minds of samplers and give the whole product a taste of the iKi franchise.
Brand positioning theory
A factor pertinent to Research Methods in this section is that of brand positioning theory, which concentrates on creating a strong brand in a new market. A brand is a collection of feelings, perception, status, image and lifestyle of a particular brand or product. It creates perception in mind of the customer that there is no other product on the market that could compete with the product. Its guarantees high quality and delivers it through the brand. According to Keller (2008) brand equity is “A brand that has positive customer-based brand equity, when consumers react more favourably to a product and the way it is marketed when the brand is identified than when it is not.” To build a strong brand value and identity, it helps to establish the position of the product in the minds of the potential consumers and will help to build future relations with them. This is necessary to enter new markets.
1.5 Chapter Overview:
The thesis is divided into six chapters. The introduction discusses the internal analysis on the iKi beer brand, explaining the significance and scope of this study. Chapter 2, the Product Analysis, gives a background of the iKi beer product. The next chapter, that of Situation Analysis, explains the external situation or the current analysis of the market, the competitors of the iKi beer upon its inclusion to the market, the leaders in the market, and the trends in the consumption and consuming public. Chapter four takes the analysis deeper, discussing the different types of consumers that must be considered by the company before they can launch their product. This chapter will also interpret the survey results gotten for this study. Chapter five will discuss the SWOT analysis that will then identify the strengths and weaknesses as to how the brand can utilize in creating the strategy to establish itself in the Polish market.
For the final part, the discussion will now identify the means as to how the iKi beer BV could use this strategy to introduce the brand to the market. For the conclusion, the answer to the main question will be discussed and the final thoughts that can be raised with regards to the topic. Recommendations will also be written in the conclusion of the study.
1. PRODUCT ANALYSIS
Nowadays, the beverage market in Poland is prosperous which is why many brands are now working to enter this prosperous market. However, breaking into a market with new unfamiliar brand to its consumers will serve as a strategic challenge to aspiring companies, such as iKi. What is the iKi BV strategy to enter this market and what makes this brand popular to the Dutch market? Can the same strategy work on the Polish market? This chapter will describe the background of the iKi beer BV and the methods currently applied by the company in introducing the iKi BV beer.
2.1 Background of iKi BV
iKi BV company, distributors of the iKi beer franchise and brand, is a small company based in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. Behind the philosophy of iKi beer stands the ideals of enjoyment and relaxation. In the Japanese iKi mission, it states “enjoy iKi, enjoy life!” Through the precise combination of green tea, yuzu and beer, iKi offers to its customers a healthy choice for beer and alternative for green tea lovers. The beer is processed thanks to a partnership of the main iKi staff with the Leifmans, based in Gent, Belgium. Through the help of the Leifmans, the quality of the iKi beer is said to be the best in the brewing industry as the Leifmans are regarded as the best brewery group in the industry.
iKi BV mission statement are as follows:
Notice small things
Follow your passion
iKi BV hopes to bring enjoyment of moment and pleasure to the next level to every market it enters into.
As of present time, the iKi brand is available in more than 10 countries in Europe. One of the goals of the company and its mission is to make the brand famous around the European region and hopefully, around the globe. Part of iKi’s brief was that the company wants to establish a strong position in the Netherlands and the rest of the European region.
2. 2 The Product
While a “name” of a product is considered to be the product’s “face , a “brand” refers to “names given to products to distinguish them from other, similar products Therefore iKi will be introduced with its original name. To be consistent with the current perception of iKi in other nations, this name will be associated with the idea that “iKi beer is where east meets west, a fusion of flavours creating a complete new experience” (iKi website). iKi focuses on the enjoyment of life and spending the quality time with family and loved ones. iKi wants its customers enjoy their leisure time and find “life”(iKi website) in the simplest things.
“iKi” is Japanese term for life or living. This term alone presents that the iKi beer helps you enjoy life. According to the company webpage, the slogan of the brand is: “iKi beer is fresh! It is new! It is here to change the way you enjoy beer. iKi beer is where east meets west, a fusion of flavors creating a complete new experience. Yukuri Yaroh - take it easy. Enjoy iKi - enjoy life.”
The iKi beer is packaged in a regular coloured beer bottle which is similar into a sake bottle found in Japan. The designs in the bottle have two kanjis for “生” meaning “Raw” or “Living” in English. The name of the brand is also written on top of the bigger kanji in the traditional sumi-e style.
Promotional Advertisement Poster for iKi beer.
This packaging style by the iKi beer is crucial as this would depict the Japanese and Western concept the beer is known for. This packaging also conveys to its consumers the mission of the company which is a way of enjoying life and leisure with family and friends, with the beer as a medium to keep things up to beat. This visual magnet alone can get the attention of the target group and convince them to become the loyal customer of iKi beer
In terms of the logo, it presents the personality of the beer. In this case, the logo with the kanji of “raw” and “living” shows to the market the concept of freshness and uniqueness the brand offers. According to Design Guru (2008), a logo should be suitable and elegant, use of colours must be limited. It is also important that logos are simple and straight to the point, but catchy to the intended market .
iKi is dedicated to people who do not like a bitter taste of regular beer. This dedication then led them to the concept of mixing flavors that will be zesty, fresh and unique for its market. The combination of Japanese green tea and fruits (Yuzu) makes the beer less bitter. iKi has a golden colour of beer, a bit lighter than the average color.
iKi is also classified as a refreshing beer, suitable as an aperitif. “The freshness of its flavour along with the lower bitterness level of iki beer, creates a unique balance that stands out from mainstream beers. The base combination of the iKi beer is green tea, barley malt, hop and yeast. In addition to these ingredients, iKi beer also contains special additions namely sencha green tea and the Japanese fruit Yuzu.”
A brand is a collection of values. It is the face of the product, which the company presents to customers. A brand also shows the promises the brand wants to share with the consumer and entice feelings to try it out. A successful brand has a certain characteristic which makes consumers want more. iKi beer is a great example of a brand that presents a lot of characteristics – it is an original, good quality beer which is unique from the competition thanks to the unique combination of green tea , yuzu fruit and beer found in the iKi mix. A strong brand leads to amount of benefits not only to the company but as well to the customers. It is fundamental to build brand awareness and positioning before the brand can create a positive image in the new market it wishes to enter.
3 MARKET ANALYSIS
This chapter discusses the situational analysis that focuses on the main market the iKi beer wishes to dominate into. Therefore, the analysis of the Polish beer market is given in this chapter in order to see the possibilities and factors that may influence the entrance of the iKi beer in the Polish market. The situation of the Polish market cannot be influenced by the company, but it can influence the success of the product especially if they do not properly plan their strategy and take into consideration the numerous factors that can influence their success.
The main aim for iKi BV is to launch the product in the Polish market with the iKi beer introduction. It is important that the company knows the situation, opportunities and threats existing on the new market they wish to venture into. By that point alone, the iKi BV group needs to gather information through market research, and not only through data of their potential competitors, current situation and trends in the market. A good strategy is always good to successfully venture into a new market especially while using a sound strategy based on reliable information taken from the market research and other resources. Information creates power and if the company really knows what the customers really want, they may use this to their advantage. For the iKi BV group, this will be crucial especially now that they are trying to enter a foreign territory.
3.1.1 Target Group
The main target group for the new market, in this case the Polish market, are people that are legally allowed to drink (from the age of 21). The target group may consist people who are successful, enthusiastic about a new product and are willing to share their experience with the public. The Dutch market is different with the Polish market which is why it is important to do research with the Polish market from all aspects. To further analyse the market, a SWOT analysis must be used to establish to the iKi BV the needed strategies to be used. During this stage, a strong image of iKi BV will be developed that would incorporate the research done in the Polish market. If this is done, the first objective of introducing the brand to the market will be achieved. Knowing the market first before venturing to more serious promotions is important to establish the brand, properly establishing itself in the market.
Beer is seen as a symbol of fun, leisure and a way to reduce stress for some people. This is true in the Polish market as 52% of the respondents in the recent survey done by the Central Statistics Office noted that beer is the most popular beverage in the country and consuming it is usually done three times a month as noted by 32% of the respondents (p.3 report alcohol w Polsce). Beer is also popular among all ages of men, but there are also women who prefer to drink beer. For women, beer is popular to women ages 34 years old and above (p.4 report Alkohol w Polsce). As of 2010, beer consumption in the country whether in clubs or establishments are up to 91 litres, 6 litres higher from the 2009 record of 85 litres . Building up information, proper research and strategy analysis must be in the first few objectives of the iKi BV before establishing the brand. The trends will also determine the expected scope the company has to cater once the company enters the market.
Now that the objectives have been raised and the preliminary methods the iKi beer has to take into consideration, it is time to introduce the competitors that may influence the beer’s performance in the Polish market. As stated in earlier chapters, the Polish beer market is rapidly developing and customers are open to try new products. Most beer companies go to Poland to enjoy the competition and build a reputation in the European industry. Become successful in Poland, the brand will be a step closer to becoming internationally recognized. The market is also a very lucrative one since the Polish market is known for its high consumption of beer, both international and local (“Piwo najczesciej spozywane”, 2007, para1). If the iKi beer franchise enters the fray, it will have to understand the differences, characteristics of its competitors and find a scheme that would turn consumers into the brand. To illustrate this, Table 1 outlines notable beer brands currently claiming a market share of Poland’s drinking population, including ownership, where brewed, and characteristics.