A computer scientist, Mark Weiser, envisioned over a decade ago that future environments would be saturated with computing and communication capability, but yet gracefully integrated with human users (Weiser 1991). His vision manifests itself in smart environments, where useful technologies disappear and “weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Retailing environments are poised to become such smart environments with modern technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), wireless sensors, the ubiquitous Internet, and mobile computing. Communication is the central part of this smart retailing environment that proactively anticipates the consumer’s needs and makes recommendations to assist consumers’ decision-making process. The key challenge for retailers is to build strong brands by orchestrating in-store communications (e.g., Personal Shopping Assistant) with the usual out-of-store branding communications (e.g., print advertisement). To achieve this orchestration, retailers will find the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) relevant for designing profitable marketing strategies.
We organize this chapter as follows. We first present the genesis and definition of IMC and review the standard multimedia model of communications. We next contrast this standard model with the IMC framework, highlighting how retailers should act
to determine the amount and allocation of budgets in the presence of synergies that emerge within the IMC context. In addition, we discuss the effects of uncertainty on the profitability of IMC programs. Finally, we extend the IMC framework to futuristic retailing and identify new research avenues.