Page 1: Introduction
Every day consumers come across a wide range of product names, images, stimuli and information which appear in many different formats - in the high street, on the products they use, at events and places they attend and through a range of entertainment media both inside and outside the home. It is important for business organisations to understand how consumers assimilate this information and how it affects their behaviour. For example, when they make buying decisions, how do they choose between the many products and services on offer and what helps them make that choice?
It is possible to say that successful companies are generally those which understand customer requirements better than their competitors. However, identifying customer needs is only part of the story. It is also necessary to find out why customers make certain decisions. Marketers often refer to the consumer’s mind as the ‘black box’ - because it is very difficult to understand exactly what goes on in this black box! Consumers make choices based upon their perception of the value represented by the various products and services on offer.
For routine decisions, such as buying groceries in a supermarket, value may not be a such a complicated or subtle factor in the decision making process. For longer-lasting, more durable products, such as financial services, their perception of value is much more significant.
This case study examines how one organisation, Nationwide Building Society, has used sponsorship as a means of communicating more about the value of its customer proposition to consumers. Nationwide operates in a fiercely competitive market where it is difficult for consumers to distinguish between the financial service organisations in the market and the array of services on offer. The study provides an insight into how the process of sponsorship can help an organisation which wishes to set itself apart from its competitors.