Deploying hybrid warfare strategies: Demarketing and communications denial

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Deploying hybrid warfare strategies: Demarketing and communications denial

It has been proven countless times, that being competitive means doing things better or just different than others. Recent military strategies of hybrid warfare combine various tactics with strong social and conventional media involvement to create different images of who battles whom. Hybrid warfare is full of fake news, refusal or even denial from all sides of a conflict.
In the age of excessive information clutter, some companies have been denying ferociously that they would ever dare to perform marketing communications. Information asymmetry between buyers and sellers, consumer boycotts, resistance or public rebellions against businesses could be the negative stimuli for companies to cut their marketing budgets. On the other hand, the mystery of trade secrets, luxury marketing or offers of guilty pleasures (goods and services which are not held in high regards by others) could be the very good reasons to pull back on marketing.
The famous example is Tesla’s (formerly Tesla Motors) zero marketing budget. The company claims not spending a dime of marketing. Such a fake denial serves as a bold communication claim itself. Tesla really means straightforward advertising rather than marketing (communications) in general. Showcase media presentations, frequent press releases, strong referral and loyalty program for customers, high street demonstration showrooms rather than traditional car dealerships or fix pricing policy are just a few elements of their marketing. We shall not forget about intentional and strong personal brand building of its founder Elon Musk, which impersonates the essence of the product brand(s) and serves as a major communication tool.
What else than fake news could be an instance of a company claiming to spend zero dollars on marketing while launching one of its products (Tesla Roadster model) into space. Not to mention the oxymoronic green image of a company, which pictures itself as environmentally responsible, while it boldly adds to debris orbiting the planet Earth. It seems to be the very tactics of hybrid warfare: denying the obvious build a new and better alternative truth.
Demarketing was pronounced by Kotler and Levy in Harvard Business Review already in 1971. On the surface, demarketing is a communication strategy actively trying to reduce demand for certain products or services. Traditional examples include governments attempting to discourage people from consuming alcohol and unhealthy foodstuffs or ultra-luxury stores discouraging the general public to enter by having the posh appearance and expensively dressed staff.
30 years ago, several countries had been a part of the world behind the Iron Curtain, where lack of supplies and shortages were the best way to induce demand for products and services. Shortages led the public to stock up and created even greater shortages. A more common feature of demarketing for businesses is building the image of a shortage by putting customers on waiting lists, announcing limited editions, performing qualification checks on potential buyers, highlighting limited stock and capacity, claiming the offer is there just now and will not last long. Regardless of whether shortages are real or made up, they attract potential customers to forbidden fruits and spur the demand to new heights.
Less is more. Push towards more genuine, truthful and value-based marketing communications could be also translated in the intention to hide the apparent truth and say as little as possible. For long, the old trick for liars and cheaters is to keep quiet and refusing to come clean. Deliberately denying any marketing communications while paving the way for substantive media buzz could well be the next hybrid warfare for marketers.

Résumé

Užití strategií hybridní války: Demarketing a popírání marketingové komunikace

Ve světě marketingové komunikace stejně jako v podnikání obecně je klíčovým parametrem konkurenceschopnosti snaha o odlišení se. Jednou z takových snah v marketingové komunikaci je záměrné popírání marketingu jako přístupu k trhu či demarketing. Některé firmy staví svou image na vytváření dojmu, že marketingová komunikace je něco, co se jich netýká. Jiné záměrně vytvářejí pocit nedostatku, ze kterého následně čerpají při realizaci konkrétních marketingových či prodejních taktik.

Kontakt na autorov/Address

doc. Ing. Pavel Štrach, Ph.D., Ph.D., ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra marketingu a managementu, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail: [email protected]