Huawei: An Evaluation of the Integrated Marketing Communications
Huawei is one of the success stories regarding companies that were established in the late 20th century and has gone on to dominate the industry well into the 21st century. Founded in 1988 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, Huawei is a global giant operating in the telecommunications industry. It continues to make remarkable breakthroughs in the global market and continues to expand all over the world. Dmitrijevs (2020) asserts that Huawei operates in more than 40 markets in different countries including developed markets in Europe and North America and in the developing world in Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Russia, and other parts of the developing world. In recent years, Huawei has continued to lead the world in technological advancements in emerging innovations including the 5G and other important technologies (Mao et al., 2020). At present, Huawei is one of the global leaders in the provision of information and communication technologies and related solutions. The company has shown a steady operation, been a key part of continuous innovation, openly cooperates with other entities in the industry, and creates solutions and advantages in the telecommunication sector. It meets the criteria of a report that intends to study integrated marketing communication because of how it engages international markets and develops strategies to reach overseas markets to establish new customer bases for its products and services. Therefore, it is important to consider how a once small company operating out of China has managed to be a key part of the global technological movement. Particularly, Huawei is chosen for its growth, size, reach, and how it represents a market that is innovation-driven. The aim of the report is to present the current approach to integrated communications at Huawei, show the techniques and resources to build cross functional relationship, evaluate the role of communication in delivering value to stakeholders, showcase practical application of communication tools, and create a marketing communication tool. The paper will conclude with recommendations on how the company can further penetrate the market in its industry based on the research findings.
2.0 Current Approach to Integrated Communications
Without a proper communications strategy, a company is most likely to fail. In this regard, Manoli and Hodgkinson (2020) define an integrated marketing communication as a strategy or approach that is applied in brand communication allowing different modes to work together in creating a seamless experience for consumers and are always presented using similar style and tone to reinforce the core message of a brand. For any organization, the most popular IMC goals in a given campaign include generation of sales, increasing the brand awareness, and reinforcing repeat consumers and purchases (Porcu et al., 2020). IMC goals, according to a research by Gordon-Isasi, Narvaiza, and Gibaja (2021) are triggered by marketplace changes, new promotional opportunities, and new competitive forces in the industry. An integrated strategy is meant to be composed as well as coordinated in order to form a whole approach to a market and to respond to changes that require such a strategy.
Huawei’s IMC at present is following a close trend towards technological and scientific development and is intended to offer a steady flow of products and services towards this aim. Huawei currently has a mission to provide digital experience to all consumers, homes, and organizations for a wholly connected and intelligent world (Wu and Zhao, 2007). Based on a marketing mix point of view, Huawei uses the 4Ps (product, price, promotion, and price) as a strategy to penetrate, maintain, and occupy a market. The current product strategy at Huawei is based on maintaining a cost leadership approach. Because of the firm’s status as a leading technological organization, Huawei has a strategy and aim to give tough competition to the other well-established firms in the telecommunications sector. Therefore, it has its sights set on Samsung and Apple, the two main competitors and business leaders in the telecommunications industry. However, Huawei enjoys the advantage of being a highly diversified business. The products are all designed to cater for divergent needs of other enterprises, government agencies, corporate consumers, and individuals. The segments that Huawei operates in include enterprise business, carrier business, and consumer business. The consumer business includes sale of wearable devices, smartphones, tablets, and home appliances to businesses and consumers.
The price strategy includes a competitive pricing approach that has propelled Huawei to establish a strong customer base made up of middle class earners. The company also targets lower and higher end consumers with a variety of products. The company uses the industry prices to create competitive prices for all of its products. Currently, the place and distribution for Huawei as a global entity include presence in more than 165 countries and the use of e-commerce platforms and social media as the main channels for selling products via the online platform. The company has panned out the distribution approach to reach and cater for more new and existing customers.
In terms of the current promotion strategy, Huawei employs both a traditional and digital approach to reach various consumer markets. In the digital promotion strategy, Xia and Gan (2017) found Huawei’s tactic to include the use of various social websites and networks to target various consumers for different products including Twitter, Google, Instagram, and Facebook. Huawei also partners with a number of large and small organizations as a marketing approach and uses brand influencers to promote various products all over the world. The company employs a variety of promotional tactics to attain market expansion and push its corporate image. Currently, advertising, budgets, business promotion, and staff selling are the main methods applied in the promotion strategy.
3.0 Techniques and Resources to Build Cross Functional Relationship
Huawei is a customer-focused organization, therefore, the focus of this section will be on the customer as a major stakeholder. To improve and build on a cross-functional relationship with the customer, there is a need to link the shareholder objectives, the employees, and the customer through a well-crafted approach. For this purpose, Xingchang and Ye (2019) advocate for the use of social media to meet the needs and objectives of the three main stakeholders in the organization: the shareholders, the employees, and the customer. Social media can be used to improve customer service through a practice of using popular social networks and tools to address customer concerns and questions. Li (2019) assert that social customer support has become a highly effective strategy to build cross functional relations because of how it enables customers to reach the company on platforms that the consumer is already using an is familiar with.
Huawei already uses social media as part of its digital strategy to promote products and services and to reach a wider array of consumers and markets. On social media, there are more than a billion messages exchanged between businesses and individuals on a monthly basis on Facebook alone, and more than 70% of people see a need to communicate directly with businesses in the future in terms of customer service options (Alhabash and Ma, 2017). Today, more people automatically expect a business to have a social media presence and to be available 24/7 to address different customer issues. The advantage of using social media is that it helps in setting up a dedicated channel for customer support (Valos et al., 2017). Good customer service is a key approach to dealing with consumers and ensuring that they are fully satisfied with the products and services offered by a company. Social media would enable a faster and more detailed resolution of customer issues than any other customer service platform. Specifically, a dedicated social media handle managed by the customer support team is needed to help in filtering out content and service issues from the primary channel. Social media would also ensure that Huawei assigns the right team to monitor incoming messages and issues. The added value of using social media customer support is that it directs potential consumers to other products and services that the company provides as well as increasing interactions and brand awareness.
4.0 Evaluation of the Role of Communications in Delivering Value to Stakeholders
The actions and attitudes of stakeholders have a direct impact on the success of a company. According to Saif and Aimin (2015), effective communication allows for giving and receiving of information relevant to the needs of the stakeholders and creates positive attitude towards the initiatives taken by an organization. Through communication, it becomes easier to gain an understanding of the overall goals and objectives, thus enabling strategies that evaluate and adapt various kinds of support to deliver the stakeholder goals and objectives. Huawei’s middle class target market is a major stakeholder in the organization. This market is the organization’s key to taking a larger market share of the much-contested high end and mid-level accessories and gadgets such as phones, wearables, tablets, and other important flagship projects. Additionally, government agencies and corporate organizations are important in Huawei’s efforts to occupy the corporate market. Projects such as 5G and other key developments will require the support of governments (Chacon and Rajawat, 2019). The recent fallout between Huawei and the United States government in the US-China trade hostilities is an example of the damage that poor stakeholder relations could have to the organization. Lastly, employees form a critical part of Huawei’s stakeholder groups. The company must recognize their role in meeting organizational and shareholder goals. They interact with the organization and the customers in a chain that leads to either positive or negative performance.
From the alignment with government agencies, to the establishment of successful partnerships with other firms, building effective employee teams and changing the corporate culture to incorporate high performance teams, and transparency consultation and reporting, the role of communication is significant in connecting strategy to performance, results, and objectives. An effective communication strategy for Huawei, as expressed by Low (2007), would translate to influencing decisions on marketing, investment, operations, negotiations, use of internal resources, effective delivery of products, and enable better meeting of goals and objectives.
Stakeholders, especially customers and employees, must have a flawless understanding of what a business is trying to achieve (Benn, Abratt, and O’Leary, 2016). This is attainable through communication avenues such as advertising and marketing campaigns that effectively talk about strategies and intentions. Communication for Huawei is important because it creates positive relations and influences. Customers influence other stakeholders such as governments, communities, and owners. As a result, it is important to ensure that their needs are addressed as well as those that affect the organization. Communication builds a dialogue towards attaining a point where every stakeholder, especially the employees and customers, are happy and engaged towards the aims and goals of the organization.
Communication helps to ensure that the stakeholders understand the value from a benefits point of view as opposed to using features to define value. Customers, the main stakeholders for Huawei, can only begin to understand the value of the organization if they can understand benefits. Customers want to have a product that satisfies them, saves time, enables feelings of security, reduces frustrations, earns them more money and value for their money, and any other benefits. Huawei uses communication to sell such benefits to the customer. These benefits can be used to connect emotionally with the stakeholders and in turn create a desire for increased interactions with the organization. Aside from communicating value, communication has a role to convey the logic behind an organization and its products through mentioning features that appeal to different stakeholders. For customers, communication enables an understanding of value through a description of features. Here, advertisement and social media marketing are effective IMC tools that are used by Huawei to continuously engage the consumers on the value that the company brings.
5.0 Practical Application of Communication Tools
To increase productivity and efficiency, simplify the management of IT, identify and apply user-friendly solutions, and inspire employee motivation, Huawei has turned to communication tools that are meant to convey different organizational messages to various stakeholders. Huawei uses social intranet, chat tools, task management software, issue tracking, and internet blogs and vlogs to communicate to customers, with employees, shareholders, management, owners, suppliers, and other important stakeholders (Deng, 2007). Huawei uses a central portal for all employees to access relevant information including document, contracts, customer information, and communications in a singular location. The company also uses the same platform to ensure that employees are aware of the promotional tools available to consumers. This type of communication ensures that cross-functional teams are effective in their role. The advantage of using such practical communication tools is that it helps to lower the maintenance costs of IT infrastructure and cultivates a workforce that is more flexible. The overall effect is that productivity is increased through an alignment of all employees towards the same corporate goals and objectives.
Another practical communication tool applicable at Huawei is the use of chat tools that foster collaboration between employees and teams to enable cohesive working structures and more efficient collaboration. Chat tools have the added advantage of being avenues for personal selling (Puri, 2007). Personal selling is preferred as a more modern communication tool because of how it includes a face to face interaction with customers with a motive of promoting various products and services and ensuring a purchase. Without collaboration platforms, working in teams and in cross-functional groups would be difficult. For example, employees in various stations would not be aware of the overall idea and how to go about persona selling. Sharing of ideas and keeping tabs on progress is easier where chat tools are available. In an age where people are using chat tools for both official and unofficial communication, enabling such usage in the organization is an advantage to kill the monotony of using emails and rigid communication avenues. It is also an effective way to apply personal selling techniques when interacting with consumers. Chat tools provide an easier way for teams and employees to communicate, bringing about collaboration and more productivity.
Chat tools are an essential part of the digital economy. They enable a two way communication between the company and the customer. In the advertising function, chat tools can be used to directly sell and to offer sales promotions to consumers. Chat tools are effective IMC that can be used to ensure that a salesperson directly communicates with customers, not only resolving an issue but also introducing new products and services. Chat tools available for Huawei ay include a chat function on its website and direct messaging on social media, especially on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It is a form of direct marketing with the exception of being modern and reaching a wider market at a go. As people continue to buy and interact with business more online, chat tools are a cost effective and efficient way to address customer issues and introduce new products on various levels.
6.0 Marketing Communication Plan
A proposed marketing communication plan for Huawei will include the message, the medium, the timing, and the target. The message is aligned to the current mission of the company to ensure that everyone is well connected to the benefits of a digital economy through access to the internet and to gadgets that simplify life. Therefore, the message is simply, connecting people in an age where connection and networking is not only a social requirement but also an important element of survival. The medium and channel that the message would be passed through include social media and digital marketing platforms. Specifically, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will enable the company to advertise products and address customer questions at all times. The time period will be an ongoing and continuous activity, available 24 hours a day as a way to maximize the different schedules of a global audience. The target market will include middle class and working class individuals, aged between 25 and 50, young adults, with high disposable income and reduced price sensitivity. The target market is chosen due to its versatility and desire to remain trendy. Huawei creates products that are intended for a young audience, one that has a higher disposable income, low sensitivity to pricing, and a desire to remain trendy. Wearables, new phone brands, new gadgets, newer technology, and similar products would be attractive to the chosen market. In this plan, brand, customer, and budget alignment are crucial. The brand perception of Huawei is growing significantly. It is now a legitimate contender in the telecommunications sector alongside Samsung and Apple (Alkhawajah, 2019). Because of the target market, social media is a good avenue for Huawei to reach more customers. By combining Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the marketing communication plan will not only appeal to Instagram millennials but also reach young adults of Facebook and older individuals on Twitter. Huawei’s unique selling proposition is that it has superior quality products at a price range that is below that of the main competitors.
The appropriate marketing communications mix will include an online advertising strategy coupled with the suggested personal and direct selling via chat tools, events, sponsorships, influencer marketing, and offline advertising through billboards and television ads. The upcoming Olympic Games, the ongoing Euro Football League, and other popular sporting events can be a right fit for Huawei to put its brand out there for various global markets. Huawei has a large number of resources, financial and infrastructural to also combine the use of other marketing tools including sales promotion and public relation. These promotional tools will be used because of their effectiveness when used together as opposed to when used in isolation. The idea is to ensure that customers, as the main stakeholders, have a seamless experience. The proposed IMC will not only promote the Huawei brand to the customers but also enable better competition with other players in the industry including Samsung, HTC, and Apple in order to gain a larger market share. Therefore, Huawei will employ the use of advertising, personal selling, direct selling, social media marketing, sponsorships, sales promotion, and public relations as a part of its IMC.
7.0 Conclusion and Recommendations
The aim of the report was to present the current approach to integrated communications at Huawei, showing the techniques and resources to build cross functional relationship, evaluating the role of communication in delivering value to stakeholders, showcasing practical application of communication tools, and creating a marketing communication tool. Huawei operates in more than 40 markets in different countries including developed markets in Europe and North America and in the developing world in Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Russia, and other parts of the developing world. The company has shown a steady operation, been a key part of continuous innovation, openly cooperates with other entities in the industry, and creates solutions and advantages in the telecommunication sector. An integrated strategy is meant to be composed as well as coordinated in order to form a whole approach to a market and to respond to changes that require such a strategy. Huawei’s IMC at present is following a close trend towards technological and scientific development and is intended to offer a steady flow of products and services towards this aim. Huawei currently has a mission to provide digital experience to all consumers, homes, and organizations for a wholly connected and intelligent world. In terms of the current promotion strategy, Huawei employs both a traditional and digital approach to reach various consumer markets. The brand perception of Huawei is growing significantly. It is now a legitimate contender in the telecommunications sector alongside Samsung and Apple. Because of the target market, social media is a good avenue for Huawei to reach more customers. It is recommended that Huawei uses an online advertising strategy coupled with the suggested personal and direct selling via chat tools, events, sponsorships, influencer marketing, and offline advertising through billboards and television ads.
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