Time to clean up our act in 'dirty sales end' promotions

It’s clear that own-label is growing in popularity and putting pressure on manufacturers. However it was interesting to read that it isn’t necessarily own-label’s lower price point that drives sales.

While manufacturer brands might feel pressured to fight back with bigger and better promotions, the evidence shows that they shouldn’t be drawn into a pricing war. Yet, with an increase of 2 per cent year on year to a staggering 62 per cent of manufacturer brands on promotion, brands are simply not taking this on board.

But then again, you have to sympathise with their predicament. Over many years they have become the de facto trading currency between grumpy retail buyers and needy account managers to maintain the status quo within store.

Brand marketing has always built the brand with a set of premium traits – one of which is price – but a significant other being ‘most desired by consumers’. The ‘dirty sales end’ exploits this brand power by giving shoppers ‘favourite brands, lowest price’. At first it was too good to be true. But now that everyone is at it, it has become the norm and a zero-sum game at that.

To survive, brands must continue to behave like brands but need complementary behaviours around pricing. Risk is the bogey-man. Risk of rejection by shoppers and by retailers who may or may not be willing to sell more of them. The solution is not to throw out the benefits of smartly-timed pricing promotions in store but to use them more sparingly and strategically – and in greater partnership with the retailer. Doing nothing is not an option in weaning shoppers from price promotions. It’s about starting to engage and excite shoppers with alternative benefits.

The holistic approach will always make for a better relationship. But it needs to be properly structured, connected and planned over a reasonable period of time.

These elements – still including the odd well-placed price ‘thank you’ promotion – can range from improved packaging formats, usage variations, quality, efficacy and other small but significant treats.

Genuine shopper marketing strategies will also allow for these non-price triggers to be delivered exclusively (and willingly) with specific retailer partners.

Darren Keen, managing director, MARS\Y&R

Brandjacking is a shoddy and short-term strategy

Your feature on ‘brandjacking’ highlights yet another example of the desperate tactics brands are resorting to in order to boost their profile in a flagging economy. It’s all very well to cite cleverness and innovation as reasons for imitating competitor content in campaigns, but really, all this copycat behaviour does is create market growth for the benefit of market leaders and to the detriment of challenger brands.

If you invest time and effort in developing your own brand and creating solid, meaningful beliefs that are delivered to all audiences through persuasive and striking communications, you stand a chance of capturing people’s attention and taking market share from your competitors. After all, 55 per cent of a company’s value lies in its brand, so why would you want to dilute it by borrowing equity from your rivals?

The only way brands will achieve true stand-out is by doing and saying something different, and most importantly, backing that courage up with a well-planned proposition that differentiates your offering and changes customer behaviour.

Have something new to talk about, and before long, you’ll be the one that other, less brave brands are borrowing from.

Simon Guest, business strategy director, Maverick

Cloud is the new atlas for travel brands

Secret Escapes’ Alex Saint is spot on when he talks about how travel companies are now able to manage email content on the basis of behaviour, and it is cloud technology that is helping brands take marketing to a higher level.

Travel firms now have the means to understand customers’ travel habits; what they like to do and where they like to go. Not only does this allow them to target customers with highly personalised content, it also equips them with the ability to identify potential segments to target. Operators can look at the demographic, previous holiday destinations and choice of holiday, and this combined data can then be used to automatically generate email messages that are personalised and detail rich. These can be delivered to millions of customers in a matter of minutes. It is cloud technology that has allowed this meaningful analysis and implementation.

Simon Bowker, managing director, eCircle

It’s a social, mobile world

Well said Mark Zuckerberg. Now that such an influential innovator in our market has predicted mobile will become more like TV advertising, high-quality and fully integrated, will brands follow suit?

If Facebook can figure out a scalable mobile solution, it will help the entire industry. Those brands and agencies that have been reluctant to invest will look at engaging through the small screen.

Mobile is fast becoming the strongest channel in a marketer’s toolbox; there is a huge monetisation opportunity for marketers here on social sites. If Facebook continues to invest and offer a strong mobile solution, getting brands to commit to mobile advertising will be less of a challenge. As more brands get involved, this in turn, will result in improved innovation and creativity - and hence more engaged users.

Amy Vale, vice-president of global research and strategic communications, Mojiva

Field is gold in marketing

It’s reassuring to see field marketing and experiential recognised as one of the most powerful channels in the mix. While marketers are increasingly applying mobile and digital channels to campaigns, it must be remembered that there is no substitute for the human element and face-to-face contact with the consumer that field marketing can provide.

The way in which we shop is changing rapidly with both the growth of e-commerce and the continued recession.

As shopping malls become even more of a ‘destination’, young and old consumers engaged through strong, joined up messaging and physical experiences can highly strengthen value and affinity with brands.

Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

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