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Business Communication Essentials: Management

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Question:

Describe about a H&M efficient PR and communications department and adopt ethical practices in their advertising and other communication?

 

Answer:

Summary

H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is a multinational company based in Sweden. It has become one of the largest retailers for offering fashion clothing for all the categories, women, men, children and teenagers.

The communications and department of H&M works at a global level, mainly with fashion PR, media relations, investor’s relations and internal communication. They work through collaborative efforts of head office and local professionals to communicate effectively through each of its market. To maintain their brand identity in the market, H&M follows various mean to advertise its products and services. They make use of offline and online media to reach out to its target market. They efficiently communicate with its target audience and in doing this, they leave no stone unturned. . They follow the AIDA concept in all its marketing communications. It can be said that the PR and communication activities provide immense support to H&M in reaching out to its consumers, employees and investors in an effective manner. They have always adopted ethical advertising practices. They are flexible in their approach and adapts to the local culture. They provide training to its employees at different levels to enhance their skills in intercultural business communication.

Introduction

H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is a multinational company based in Sweden. It has become one of the largest retailers for offering fashion clothing for all the categories, women, men, children and teenagers. The business was founded by Erling Persson in 1947 and he opened its first exclusive women fashion clothing store in Vasteras Sweden and named it “Hennes” which means “hers”. He came with this idea of presenting fashionable clothes at striking prices while he was on his trip to United States in 1946. After opening “Hennes”, he later acquired “Mauritz Widforss” in 1968 which was a menswear and children wear retailer and this led to the expansion of Hennes by adding men’s and children wear into its product range (About.hm.com, 2015). The name was then changed to “Hennes & Mauritz”. They are known for selling fast fashion clothes at low prices. Currently H&M have its presence in more than 57 countries with nearly 3500 stores and employing over 132,000 people in 2015. The H&M group has diversified itself in home furnishing; they also expanded their operations online to meet the challenges of globalization. They followed an aggressive strategy which helped them to expand business globally. They follow horizontal division of labor strategy in their facilities for its operations to increase efficiency. Therefore, they outsource its production to about 800 factories in Asia and Europe. The company’s design team is located in Sweden and they control the entire production operations, right from planning to setting up the specifications (About.hm.com, 2015). A brief history would demonstrate how they grew as a global brand from being a single store in Sweden.

The company got listed in the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1974, they started selling cosmetics and teenagers clothing through impulse stores in 1977 and in 1980s they acquired ‘Rowell’s’ a mail order company. In 1990s, with the advent of liberalization of trade they started with online stores and continued to grow in the European markets. They started communicating by means of newspapers and magazines and resorted to outdoor advertising to market their brand and its products. By 2000, they were able to open first H&M outlet in New York and Spain and they continued to open new stores in European markets (About.hm.com, 2015). By now, the markets were characterized by intense competition and increased consumer awareness and fast changing fashion trends has posed a challenge to H&M to maintain their market share and loyalty among its customer. To attract new customers and retain the old ones, H&M started collaborating with designers such as Jimmy Choo, Versace etc in 2004. They went on opening new stores in Tokyo and acquired FaBric Scandinavian AB, which had brands like Weekday, Minki and Cheap Monday. They launched H&M Home in 2009. In 2013, the online shopping portal for Weekday and Cheap Monday products were started.

The communications and department of H&M works at a global level, mainly with fashion PR, media relations, investor’s relations and internal communication (Bovée and Thill, 2014). They work through collaborative efforts of head office and local professionals to communicate effectively through each of its market. This report will appraise all the PR activities undertaken by H&M and other communication strategies that they follow.

 

Analysis of communication activity of H&M

The H&M maintains its external relations by interacting with global consumers in different situations. While communicating the H&M professionals represents the brand as they reflect the values of the company putting the guidelines into practice (Evangelisti Allori and Garzone, 2010). They aim to communicate with their stakeholders in an open and objective way. They are always accessible and sensitive towards its stakeholders.

To maintain their brand identity in the market, H&M follows various mean to advertise its products and services. They make use of offline and online media to reach out to its target market. They efficiently communicate with its target audience and in doing this, they leave no stone unturned. In offline media they advertise in various fashion and women’s magazine and trends prescribers, they also advertise through strategic placements of billboards in the cities and adopt different strategies in different countries to reach out to the young workers and young adults (Hennesmauritz.blogspot.in, 2015). They also widen their billboard advertising to bus stations and subways. They hold events on street and use outdoor marketing strategy using models that showcase their latest fashionable clothes. They always try to stand out from the crowd by adopting new methods of attracting the crowd keeping the latest trend in mind.

With the advent of innovative technology every day, the world is becoming smaller as today the entire world is connected with internet. H&M has always been flexible in making choice of media to reach out to the consumer. They understand that internet can give them easy access to its huge consumer base. They make use of a variety of online media such as social networking site like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and also on the H&M website. They put their latest collection on the first page of their website (Hunter, 2013). They also post videos of their outdoor advertising on YouTube which showcases all their latest collection. H&M have partnered with many influent bloggers who have agreed to give positive opinion about H&M products in their blogs.

The PR department of H&M is very active and they work very strategically. They place their ads at strategic positions and launch it at appropriate time (UKEssays, 2015). They follow the AIDA concept in all its marketing communications. The AIDA concept has four stages, they are as follows:

Attention: they gain the consumers attention through strategic placement of ads on billboards and on social networking sites. They have also developed an app where all the new information and offers are communicated to the target audience.

Interest: This creates interest among consumers and instigates them to make a purchase. When they gain the desired attention from the consumers, it becomes easier for them to make additional sales.  At this stage, personal selling comes in the picture. Selling forms a crucial part of the interest stage.

Desire: to instill a desire among consumers to buy a H&M products, they undertake a wide range of promotional tools, public relation activities, personal selling and sales promotional activities by using both offline and online media sources.

Action: The action results in purchase of the product. Various promotional tools and offers which lower the price of the product lead to an action from the consumer leading to the purchase of the product (Laskin, 2014). Personal selling allows the consumers to make a purchase decision easily as they provide the required information and persuade them to buy the product.

Evaluation of the communication activities of H&M

The communications and PR department works in collaboration with the head office and local media professionals. All the teams in the PR department ensures that the all their external and internal communications are clear, appropriate and reliable. They provide support to the company by planning and coordinating the communication efforts. They focus on the internal corporate information, inspiration and communication. They also provide their excellent service to 24x7 to handle all the media relations. They also develop strategies and other PR activities to highlight the stunning design and fashion of H&M products (Moshiri and Cardon, 2014). They also maintain relations with the investors through effective and timely communication regarding the financial information. They also clearly state the financial details in the reports and distribute to its investors.

It can be said that the PR and communication activities provide immense support to H&M in reaching out to its consumers, employees and investors in an effective manner. They have always adopted ethical advertising practices. They even engaged with Greenpeace in their “Detox campaign” as they behave responsibly towards the environment and community. They focus on the skill development of the employees and keeping its consumers and investors delighted through effective communication policies. They understand that culture plays an important role in doing business globally (prezi.com, 2015). To effectively communicate with its target audience across different culture, they recruit local employees so that they can persuade the consumer easily. They are flexible in their approach and adapts to the local culture. They provide training to its employees at different levels to enhance their skills in intercultural business communication. They also send its top level executives to the highly productive foreign subsidiaries. They recruit young people and train them as they are flexible and affordable as they can be employed at low salaries since they are freshers and also they are close to the latest fashion trends (Prstrategyandapplication.wordpress.com, 2015). H&M provide a conducive environment to work where employees can openly express their views and make valid suggestions.  This makes their internal communication effective.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that H&M has highly efficient PR and communications department and they adopt ethical practices in their advertising and other communication. They make use of the various offline and online strategic media choices which enable to reach out to the consumer (Referenceforbusiness.com, 2015). They eliminate any barrier in their communication with its investors, suppliers and consumers. They do this by hiring local employees so that any cultural barrier does not obstruct the effective flow of communication. They take care of its employees and maintain an organic organization structure which allows them to maintain a strong brand image in the market. H&M follows the principle of “Think globally but act locally”. The PR department is highly skilled and they make use of various frameworks of communication and evaluate the effectiveness of its communication policies regularly. H&M understands that in the face of global competition, if they want to survive they need to be alive in the minds of the consumer and maintain its reputation and its brand image (Stephens and Barrett, 2014). A mentioned earlier, they are flexible in their approach this has allowed them to put a strong corporate communication policy in place.

 

References

About.hm.com, 2. (2015). H&M Group. [online] About.hm.com. Available at: https://about.hm.com/en/About/facts-about-hm/about-hm/hm-group.html [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

About.hm.com, 2. (2015). History. [online] About.hm.com. Available at: https://about.hm.com/en/About/facts-about-hm/people-and-history/history.html [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

About.hm.com, 2. (2015). Newsroom. [online] About.hm.com. Available at: https://about.hm.com/en/news/newsroom.html [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

Bovée, C. and Thill, J. (2014). Business communication essentials. Boston: Pearson.

Evangelisti Allori, P. and Garzone, G. (2010). Discourse, identities and genres in corporate communication. Bern: Peter Lang.

Hennesmauritz.blogspot.in, 2. (2015). Hennes & Mauritz AB | H&M: CHAP. 16 Integraded Marketing Communications. [online] Hennesmauritz.blogspot.in. Available at: https://hennesmauritz.blogspot.in/2012/04/chap-16-integraded-marketing.html [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

Hunter, A. (n.d.). Business communication.

Laskin, A. (2014). Nonfinancial Information in Investor Communications. International Journal of Business Communication.

Moshiri, F. and Cardon, P. (2014). The State of Business Communication Classes: A National Survey.Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 77(3), pp.312-329.

prezi.com, 2. (2015). Communication Plan H&M. [online] prezi.com. Available at: https://prezi.com/g_dvai_s9azy/communication-plan-hm/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

Prstrategyandapplication.wordpress.com, 2. (2015). H&M | PR Strategy and Application's Blog. [online] Prstrategyandapplication.wordpress.com. Available at: https://prstrategyandapplication.wordpress.com/tag/hm/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

Referenceforbusiness.com, 2. (2015). Public Relations - benefits. [online] Referenceforbusiness.com. Available at: https://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Pro-Res/Public-Relations.html [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

Stephens, K. and Barrett, A. (2014). Communicating Briefly: Technically. International Journal of Business Communication.

UKEssays, 2. (2015). H&M and its communication strategy. [online] UKEssays. Available at: https://www.ukessays.com/essays/business/h-m-and-its-communication-strategy-business-essay.php [Accessed 2 Jul. 2015].

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