Conceptualization and Measurement of Multidimensionality of Integrated Marketing Communications

Dong Hwan Lee
Manhattan College

Chan Wook Park
Kyung Hee University


Since the early 1990s, integrated marketing communication (IMC) has become the accepted practice in the marketing communications field (Kitchen, Brignell, Li, and Jones, 2004). An increasing number of advertising executives consider IMC as a key competitive advantage associated with marketing (Kitchen and Schultz, 2001). Despite such a wide acceptance, many important issues remain in the IMC area that need to be resolved. Among them, the two most fundamental yet crucial issues involve the conceptualization and measurement of IMC. Practitioners and academics alike would like to know the nature and extent of impact IMC has on the marketing communications practice. Although some studies looked into the impact of IMC on marketing communications, their findings are inconsistent, often contradictory, and inconclusive at best. The main reason for this state of confusion is that different conceptualizations (definitions), and hence different measures, were used in past studies (Caywood, Schultz, and Wang, 1991; Duncan and Everett, 1993; Eagle, Kitchen, Hyde, Fourie, and Padisetti, 1999; Kitchen and Schultz, 1997; Phelps, Plumley, and Johnson, 1994). In addition, anecdotal reports in trade publications shed no clear light on the issue. It is clear that the influence of IMC on the current marketing communications practice cannot be confidently determined without reliable and valid measures of IMC. At the same time, measures of the IMC construct cannot be systematically developed without clear specifications of what constitutes IMC. The lack of common conceptual footing of IMC has been a predominant barrier to developing sound measures of IMC, and hence to the efforts in determining its impact on the current marketing communication practice (Phelps and Johnson, 1996). In a review of the development and status of IMC, Schultz and Kitchen (1997) concluded that developing a definition of IMC that is acceptable or relevant to the marketing communications community and developing measures that effectively and reliably assess the impact and value of IMC remain as the most critical issues. Cook (2004) also observed that finding a common conceptual footing of IMC is a challenge to the IMC field.