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Applied buyer behaviour in Global Context

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Applied buyer behaviour in Global Context

Ad comparison between ICA Stig and Mrs ICA




Seminar Group: [13:00-15:00]

Session ID: 4 / Group: 1 / Jebb 208

Tutor: Garry Hill

Word Count: 2,400 words


Table of Contents

1. Executive summary3

2. Introduction

3. Segmentation5-6

4. Perception7-8

5. Consumer Buying Process.8

6. Marketing Mix.9-10

7. Motivation

8. Conclusion and Recommendations

9. Appendix

9. References

1. Executive summary

This report was commissioned to critically analyse and contrast two ads of any chosen company/-ies to gain insight in the different areas in which the message of an ad can be analysed. The chosen ads for this report are both from ICA Gruppen – one of Sweden’s leading companies within grocery retail. The first ad was launched to mark their new app, which featured their famous advertising face called “Stig”. The comparative ad dates back to 1965, which was launched to celebrate their new company logo and featured a lady known as “Mrs ICA”. An interesting analysis will be provided regarding the parallels and differences between these ads, in which segmentation, perception, the consumer buying process, marketing mix and motivation will be addressed. In addition, the report will provide a proposal ad of how ICA could continue their advertising strategy in order to target their audience.

2. Introduction

The two ads chosen for this report are taken from a company called ICA (since 1938) or ‘ICA Gruppen’ (explain ‘gruppen’) - one of Sweden’s leading companies within grocery retail (ICA, 2015). ICA Sweden presently has 1,321 stores located in the country, which represents 36% of the market share and 68% of ICA Gruppens total sales breakdown. When compared to other companies in the same field, ICA has been seen as a rather expensive store with quality products and could be described as a UK counterpart to Waitrose. The company has a long marketing history and their first milestone with regards to advertising was in 1965 when the company decided to launch a new logo collective and uniform for all ICA stores in the country (ICA, 2015). In order to compare and contrast the company’s advertisement, this report therefore includes one of their first main ads from 1965 and a relatively recent ad published in December 2013 (Feber, 2015).  Furthermore, the comparison will be supported by applicable buyer behaviour theories. Lastly, it will conclude with remarks regarding their branding efforts and suitable recommendations.





‘(Now,) Everything is changing. Again.

Let our recently updated app make your day a little bit cheesier and entertaining.

Simplify you’re grocery shopping, get great offers and dinner recipes.  Complete your bank transactions quickly, or view over a hundred ICA-videos - wherever you are.  You can find the app in the App Store and on Google Play. ‘



3. Segmentation

The first ad from 1965 is a print of Mrs ICA, which was published when the company wanted to build and improve their brand awareness as well as to target a wide range of audience of the same demographic. They had agreed on creating a new image and wanted to provide a new and innovative persona in which their customers could identify themselves with. As the company likewise wanted to promote their good quality business they chose a middle-aged wife – mature, beautiful and Swedish who characterised the company’s charm and appreciated business (ICA, 2015).  




The image is printed in black and white and appears with a grey background. The print was simplistic and did not include any copy besides the company’s logo that was stated clearly on the grocery bag held up by Mrs ICA. The thoughts behind the ad were brilliant as the message of the way Mrs ICA was holding up the bag in combination with the sophisticated look she implied, depicted right at the target audience. She was the perfect roll model for the women of that time. Through creating this rather classy image of the store the company targeted a one-dimensional demographic segmentation. It was mainly directed to the ABC 1 socio economic class, however, the key shopper was and still are females. A little shy of 50 years later the company still portrays itself with the same brand image.

Evidence of this is the character called Stig, who appears on the second ad chosen in this report, and was with the company for close to 13 years until he made his last commercial on the 1st of February 2015 (ICA, 2015). He was their main character for the branding of the company in both television and magazine ads (ICA, 2105). Since ICA started to produce the TV ads Stig has played the role as a humorous middle-aged man who is proper and handsome, however, he does not reveal the fun. Hence, the fun is with him and rather ironic. This has created a catch with regards to the audience where it makes people longing for the next scenario with Stig. Consequently, he has built up a trustful relationship between the company and its consumers.


In 2013, when ICA was about to release their new app, they had realised the similarity between their own ICA Stig and Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc. The inspiration come from a picture released just after the co-founder passed away in 2011. It appeared in newspapers, magazines, and on websites globally, and was published as memento for the astonishing person and businessman that he was. When ICA recognised the similarity they saw their opportunity to portray themselves with Apple and decided to publish an imitation ad of Steve Jobs, with the same pose as the one in the picture released after he passed away. This enabled ICA to target the same psychographic segment as Apple, as it indirectly would target the same people who like to be associated Apple.



4. Perception

I have picked the axis including value and quality, as ICA stands for the rather expensive groceries with higher quality when compared to its competitors. The axes are also highly relevant, as ICA has created a strong brand image, which excludes their customers from considering other factors, such as price (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010). When ICA’s customers organize, selects and interpret the conditions concerning their purchase a very individual act is taking place and depends on the person’s needs, values and previous experiences (Blythe, 2013). As they have established a good brand image these aspects will most likely be positive, which supports the placements on the perception map (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010).


A mutual perception of the two ads include that there is no offer presented. However, this is not an issue due their brand image, as it mirrors the consumers’ expectations. Hence, an offer is therefore not required. The attention is directed to the people in the ads, which create trust and identification. The same applies to the perception of prompts, as the visuals are easily recognised. Since none of the ads are coloured they are somewhat discreet. However they are quickly noticeable as they stand out from other ads, since the majority of these ads are coloured. Moreover, the messages in both ads are directed to a single one person and not a group. Both ads build on emotions with regards to trust and tradition. A significant difference between the two ads are, however the fact that the ad of Stig is an imitation ad of a person who has diseased. This plays a lot on emotions and could be highly risky as it may upset the audience.

Nonetheless, the fact that ICA was allowed to proceed with the ad implies that they are a highly respectable company. Moreover, the brand awareness is connected through the simplistic images, that both Mrs ICA and ICA Stig embodies. This could be seen as rather boring. However, it increases ICA’s consistency, as expectations are pleased amongst the audience when an ad mirrors the company’s products – and their overall business image.



5. Consumer Buying Process

The consumer buying process of ICA can be linked to the Tricomponent Attitude Model (see figure 1), which is well-known model in the context of consumer purchasing. It includes the three components of: affect, cognition and conation and can also be described as the “think-feel-do” model. Affect stands for the “feel” of buying a product, cognition for “think” and conation for “do” (Blythe, 2013). As ICA is placed in the right top corner on the perception map you could roughly parallel them to a luxury brand within grocery retail. Therefore, the purchasing process of their customers would differ in comparison to a regular grocery store, and would most likely occur correspondingly to the order of “do-feel-think” instead of the process: think-feel-do. Which is the normal process of purchasing groceries. The reason for why the conation process in the case of ICA’s happens in the very beginning is mainly due to their customers’ brand commitment. Evidence of this is shown through customers evaluating ICA over other alternatives. Concerning the customers evaluation of alternatives, it is worth to mention the obvious placement of ICA on the perception map. ICA’s competitors are far behind on the map when it comes to both the quality and value. This admits ICA to stand out, and results in a lack of choice amongst it consumers when evaluating alternatives across the company’s competitors and their products.

Figure 1 (Tricomponent model)


6. Marketing Mix  


After considering the 7 P’s the most relevant ones for ICA are the place, promotion, and process, which will be further discussed below.



As earlier mentioned, ICA has an intense distribution strategy as their stores are widely spread across the country. This creates convenience and availability for their customers. In addition, ICA has further improved and expanded their product line including their own label, which provides their consumers with a wider range of products. The physical evidence of a store is extremely important particularly to the consumers as it is concerned with the tangible aspects of products and services (Blythe, 2013). The layout of ICA’s stores provides their customers with an exceptional shopping experience. The products are nicely and orderly laid out and the staffs are approachable in their traditional outfits. 



Ever since the Steve Jobs imitation ad published by ICA was released in conjunction with ICA’s new app it significantly expressed the technological innovation, which reflects upon Steve Jobs and Apple. Furthermore, ICA has spent a long time creating a story to show customers their business image. Therefore, this ad also mirrors the branding philosophy of Apple where they show their customers their story rather than telling them. However, despite ICA having an advantage of Stig resembling Steve Jobs this ad may be rejected by individuals and regarded as ICA being unoriginal for their chosen branding method. The psychographic segmentation in both ads with Mrs ICA and ICA Stig and noticeably characterised through the simplistic outlay which represent good quality business as well as it creates trust and empathy. This specifically, targets an audience with an attitude and opinion towards the caring for quality and value. However, the demographic segmentation differs slightly between the ads as Mrs ICA was published through numerous advertisement channels, on their paper bags, posters, newspapers and on matchboxes, while the imitation ad of Steve Jobs was published in Dagens Industri, only – a business newspaper in Sweden equivalent to Financial Times.  The advertisement appeared on a centred two-page spread, which provided ICA with an advantage of minimising the competition and removing distractions away from the ad. Furthermore, it appeared on a white background with minimal black copy. This allowed the message to be portrayed in a clean and simplistic way.

Mrs ICA therefore reached out to a broader target audience than ICA Stig. As Dagens Industri is equivalent to the Financial Times it targets a slightly different psychographic segment as well. The target audience for Dagens Industri has a certain opinion, attitude and interest which most likely differs from the people who care less for business. Correspondingly, the later ad of Stig is more directed to people with higher income and education level.





The process is a crucial stage with regards to customer satisfaction, as it includes everything from the helpfulness of the staff in delivering and providing the customer with information until the point of the customers’ check out. ICA considers this as one of their main priorities. One may say that ICA’s staff can be compared to the helpfulness of the staff at John Lewis. They prioritise each and every customer, with a gracious and humble attitude. Furthermore, the checkout process at ICA stores are made to the comfort of the consumers. Customers are provided with a number of methods to check out; cash and all credit cards are accepted, in addition to a number of self-checkout desk. ICA also provides their customers with an option to create an account and provides them with a credit card, and a special membership card.

This strongly shows that they are a company to be trusted and give their customers a sense of belongingness. Moreover, ICA makes it a priority that all of their customers are served within the span of 15 minutes.




7. Motivation


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see figure 2) will be used in order to relate to the motivation of ICA’s customers. The model displays how products can be used in order to satisfy an individuals needs depending on their current state of mind. ICA’s consumers do not fit on a specific level of the model; however they are in between the belongingness and esteem level. They feel the sense of belongingness due to ICA’s exclusive membership card program. The benefits of this special program include exclusive discounts on holidays and attractions, in addition to special prices on a wide range of selected products. Moreover, this indirectly creates loyalty, in which customers want to come back. The level of esteem in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be described through the image that the store creates both through exclusiveness and through the traditional value and quality. In this context Stig plays an essential role since he builds on association between ICA and their customers, as he was the face of the company for over a decade. Consequently, as earlier mentioned Stig is no longer the face ICA, and his replacement must therefore maintain longevity since it represents a part of ICA’s values and influences the customer’s loyalty.




Figure 2

8. Critique and Recommendations 


After analysing the two ads they seem to have successfully affected the audience just as ICA’s intention. Neither of the ads chosen for this report states any clear offer, which in the case of ICA can be seen as beneficial and unnecessary since this would lower their high-class image. A comparison can be drawn to John Lewis’ ads and commercials and is evidently shown in their Christmas ad from the year 2013 when the understated message was “say nothing – but say it beautifully”.  


As Stig left the company just a few months ago (ICA, 2015) the company is now looking for a new person who could represent ICA’s business. It is therefore, highly important that ICA consider their choice of person firmly as the use of the same persona for a longer period of time creates trust and attachment to the company’s character. Through observing ICA’s previous personas and analysing their business, I believe that Isabella Löwengrip, could be a potential face for ICA. She is a Swedish entrepreneur and blogger who has worked for various companies, from investment firms to health and care businesses to interior design companies. Isabella is in her mid 20’s and is known amongst the population as a driven successful woman with a respectable and honest reputation. As she now lives a settled family life with her husband and two children, she would be able to represent ICA’s good quality business and at the same time target the same audience as Stig (Kirkhoff, 2015). She also represents consistency, as she has been involved with quality products and services within her previous jobs. However, the risk of using Isabella’s pretty face as the company’s brand persona could include that ICA’s trustful reputation would loos seriousness. Please see appendix for an example ad of Isabella – created of interest.

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