Personal Channel of Communication:
This refers to a one-to-one communication and involves two persons or a person addressing a group of persons. Here, there are three distinct types of personal channels, viz.
The expert channel consists of acknowledged individuals—i.e. experts—promoting company’s products. Pharmaceutical companies often get leading medical experts to talk about a new product to other doctors in a medical conference. Likewise, a firm manufacturing pollution control equipment may get a leading expert on environment to speak to decision makers on pollution control and how the firm’s equipments can help in controlling pollution. The government’s family planning department has had gynecologist and obstetricians travel in different parts of the country to promote family planning and management among the Indian women.
The advocate channel, a very commonly used channel, is one where a person hired by the company advocates its cause or the product. Personal selling falls in this category. All industrial products, direct marketers, consumer goods and services use this channel to counter competition and sell their products.
Personal channels of communication are effective in the following product market situations.
*Where the product is costly and hence risk associated with its purchase is high or is purchased in frequently—example consumer durables, industrial products, or airline marketing.
*Where the product has a significant social value,—e.g. perfumes and textiles.
Personnel channels therefore have an important role to play in high involvement product marketing.
Non-Personal Channels of Communications:
These channels are mass communication ones and communicate the desired message without a personal interaction with the target customer group. These consist of Print (newspapers, magazines etc.,), Audio in the form of Radio or cassettes, Television and Video. The last three are called electronic media. Now a days the Television is increasingly becoming most sought after as the advertiser selects a popular event like an international cricket match or a show of film stars or award function etc., to display his products which can catch the attention of multiple audience at one stroke. If one were to just open a magazine or a newspaper or switch on a television one will find that there are so many ads that every ad is not noticed. This is referred to as noise in the media.
To overcome this noise and communicate the desired message to the target audience, the market has been exploring new channels. Two such finds are atmospherics and events management. Atmospherics refers to the “packaged environment�? that creates the buyers perception of the firm and its products. A health product company may have a impressive white building surrounded by beautiful garden to give the message of a healthy atmosphere. Likewise a ceramic tiles manufacturer may come out with a structure with all beautiful and attractive tiles.
Events management refers to occurrences or special events created to communicate the desired message to the target customer group. In an events management the communicator gets an undivided attention to his product or brand or the message. Some examples of event management are Miss World contest, a musical concert by a famous singer or special exhibition of the firm’s products etc. Musical concerts, Film Festivals, Youth festivals, Sports etc., are sponsored by several leading consumer product companies like Parle, UB group, Reliance, Sahara, ITC etc.,
It is opined that personal communication channels are more effective than mass communication. The mass media does help to bring about attitudinal change in the target customer group.
In the first place mass media does not have a direct influence on target audience. This is mediated by the opinion leaders. Secondly an average customer will tend to believe a person more whom he or she considers a opinion leader. This person could be a celebrity, an expert or just the man in the street. This challenges the hypothesis that consumption of a product trickles down from higher status classes of groups of consumers.
Thirdly the effectiveness of a message is higher when it is directed a opinion leaders and through them to others. An example of this is Pharmaceutical companies direct their new product communications to doctors who are perceived by their colleagues as opinion leaders. Identification of right opinion leaders for the product then holds the key to effective mass communication.