Logistics – Parcel delivery market study

Logistics particularly as it relates to the consumer delivery business is a two horse race. FedEx and UPS have long duked it out, in effect, having a duopoly over an entire category. One might argue that the US Postal Service should be included in this group as well, but FedEx is one of the USPS’s biggest customers, co-opting its last mile delivery.

However, the industry is in a state of flux and all players, regardless of size, should take note.

The state of FedEx and UPS, the leaders of logistics

UPS Logo - LogisticsFedEx LogoBy all measurements, both FedEx and UPS continue to strengthen their market dominance. FedEx accounts for about $50 billion in revenue with UPS doing about $10 billion more. There are an ample number of customers to keep FedEx and UPS fat and happy for a while, with more and more consumers turning to online retail.

With that being said, what are these two saying about themselves to both preserve and attract new customers? First take a look at FedEx:


FedEx’s two main divisions, FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, are each on display here. FedEx is huge sponsor of the PGA and, during golf season, there are many ads like the first one. The ad touts the technology of FedEx Express with its app that can reroute packages to a local FedEx store, as if that is more convenient.

The second touts the price savings FedEx Ground customers could have over UPS Ground. While price is a sensitive issue for most businesses that ship a lot of products, it’s difficult to believe that the price differences between FedEx and UPS are all that significant, if they really exist at all. Each is going to do what it can to keep or get new business.

For UPS, it’s much of the same, ads trumpeting technology and cost savings. UPS played around with the idea of “What can Brown do for you,” which was a good segue into the idea of owning logistics. After all, isn’t what these delivery companies do, logistics?

What is lacking is any real reason to choose. Like many categories, the major players try to outmaneuver each other by claiming the very attributes that all players in the industry, regardless of size, possess. In fact, they are the bare minimum that any player must have. How can you be in the shipping business if you are not price competitive or have the technology deliver packages.

More over, both FedEx and UPS (especially UPS) try very hard to tell their stories from the perspective of the consumers who are receiving the package. Do consumers have much of a choice as to who actually ships the packages? That decision is often based upon price and when the consumer actually wants the item delivered.

Most typically, customers don’t have a choice between FedEx and UPS. The entity shipping the package makes that choice.

Being basically a duopoly affords both carriers the luxury of building larger and more sophisticated networks capable of delivering more shipments with each trying to outmaneuver the other. All the while each tries to woo more businesses to choose it over the other.

The FedEx and UPS brands both accomplish the same thing – getting stuff from one place to another. The FedEx brand feels a bit more sophisticated and harkens back to one of its old messages. “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is ultimately about piece of mind.

UPS feels more like the hard-working blue-collar challenger even though it actually ships more often than FedEx and has greater revenues.

Neither brand has proven over time to be superior to the other. They both work well and neither has really given customers a compelling and unique reason to choose one over the other.

Regional players are becoming more sophisticated and integrated

OnTrac LogoLaserShip LogoWhile FedEx and UPS continue to grow and optimize their networks, regional courier and LTL shippers are doing the same. Regional comDicom Logopanies like Dicom (Eastern Connection), LaserShip, GSO, OnTrac and even Pitt Ohio whois more of a LTL (less than truckload) once exclusively dealt with their own geographies. Now, those regional players are transporting parcels and freight that originated with another carrier. This model is not completely unlike the US Postal service delivering some packages the final mile for FedEx or UPS.

Regional players can ship most things quicker and less expensive than UPS and FedEx. The caveat is that, in most cases, the package must originate and arrive in the same coverage area in order to get these savings.

While these regional players present an alternative to the major players, they have a much more difficult climb. First, while they are known in certain circles and industries, what little awareness they have is limited to these niches. Their awareness pales in comparison to FedEx and UPS. Secondly, they all regurgitate FedEx and UPS sales messages – innovative technology and cost savings. Because of that, they have to prove some of the table stakes, such as timely delivery and size of delivery network.

When these regional players and their associated national networks act like FedEx and UPS, the best they can hope for is to be viewed as an equal. All their messaging does is reinforce the position of the market leaders. A company can’t gain share against a market leader by merely copying what the market leader says.

There is a unique advantage the regional players are not effectively exploiting. Each of these regional players should possess innate knowledge of their regional customers that is unique to the region in which they operate. The brand should always be from the perspective of the customer not the company itself and no regional player has positioned itself as that.

Local disruptors in the market

Uber Rush LogoMore companies are getting into the delivery business. Some with familiar names like Uber and others with not yet familiar names like Roadie. Using the same blueprint as Uber, these companies take a preexisting work force, drivers going from point a to point b, and pay them to move packages across town. (Or across the Roadie Logocountry, in the case of Roadie.)

None of these are being taken seriously as a competitor for traditional shoppers because they have not reached the needed critical mass. But the major players should take note, and they are.

While players like FedEx and UPS have an extensive driver and delivery network, they lack the driver density of the likes of Uber. Uber has the ability to pickup and deliver (on a local level) in real time, on-demand. Even the traditional bicycle courier can’t do that to the degree Uber or even Lyft can do it. FedEx and UPS can promise same-day delivery but Uber could be as close to instant as possible until we develop the coveted transporter.

A Major Development

Amazon has quickly ramped up its own delivery network, recently unveiling its new 767 plane with the words “Prime Air” written across the side.  Amazon claims having its own delivery network only augments its existing relationships with its current partners. But can Amazon be trusted?

TAmazon Logohe reality is that Amazon wants to own the entire supply chain. You don’t have to look much further than its expansion into private label products and cloud-based computing services to understand that. Amazon’s business is about getting stuff from one place to the other. Amazon doesn’t really make anything at all. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

The actual shipping part of delivering that stuff is expensive. It is good business for Amazon to want to control the costs of that. After all, it is by far the largest e-retailer in the US and is second in the world only to China’s massive Alibaba.

Ultimately, Amazon does not want to augment anything with its current delivery partners. It wants to replace them. And quickly and quietly, it is developing its own network to be able to do so. Its grocery delivery and same day Amazon Prime deliveries are prime examples of this. Amazon trucks deliver products ordered through Amazon.

What’s more is that the Amazon brand gives it permission to go down this road. In fact, its brand dictates the necessity for it to do so. But there is are two problems. First, severing the important relationships Amazon has with FedEx and particularly UPS could be problematic. Secondly, and more importantly, Amazon must convince other retailers to use it over FedEx or UPS.

The first issue is pretty cut and dried. Amazon will reach a point where it does not need FedEx or UPS but only for special circumstances. At this point, Amazon will be all in with its delivery model and there will be no turning back. It would be doubtful that either FedEx or UPS would welcome Amazon back anyway.

The second is much more difficult. Once Amazon gets really good at delivering its own stuff, it will reach out to other retailers who need delivery services. This will be a tough nut to crack because retailers will likely be hesitant to partner with a competitor that could use the delivery information as a competitive advantage. Amazon has become successful in part because it knows what to do with data and any additional data it can get on its competitors could hurt those competitors.

The opportunity

There still is real brand opportunity in this space. The natural default for most shippers is either FedEx or UPS and you can throw in USPS in there too. The reason those choices are always the default choice is simple. No one in the space has given anyone any reason to care. Reliability and price are really the only two things that matter at the end of the day and most, if not all of the players regardless of size, are reliable and are cost competitive. Cheaper options might take a bit longer but packages will still get there. Next day delivery will get there too but will be more expensive. In short, they all work.

There is a Smarter Way to Market Logistics

Logistics marketing needs to speak to something besides what they do


By Tom Dougherty

The last time we worked with a logistics company, the CEO asked us, “So, why is brand so important in a Business to Business market space?” His reasoning was that in his business, in which proposals are as thick as the Guttenberg Bible, reasoning and data carry the day instead of an emotional connection. You

In logistics marketings it is import an to maintain an emotional connection
Emotion is the means to influence

cannot overlook the emotional connection necessary when finding the strategy for logistics marketing.

What he soon understood was that brand gets you in the considered set – and, without a brand, it was easy for prospects to eliminate his company from consideration.

The idea he had with brand was that it only worked as a consumer strategy. Consumers have favorite brands that say something about who they want to be.

So, we buy a Lexus, for example, that tells us we are better than the rest. (As politically incorrect as that sounds, it’s an emotional aspiration for many of us whether we care to admit it or not.) Or we buy an iPhone because it shows we are ahead of the game. Or a Harley-Davidson motorcycle because we like to believe we are closet rebels.

Logistics Marketing and Branding Must Still Be Emotional

It works the same way in business-to-business because those emotional drivers – aspirational self-reflections – often determine who is considered and who’s not. In addition, what buyers in business to business marketing seek is affirmation, one of the strongest emotions that drive decision-making. Many fear making the wrong choices, especially when you have taken responsibility for a decision that affects others. It is the foundation of logistics marketing. (Read about work we did for New Breed Logistics here).

Once upon a time, the cliché in sales was that you couldn’t go wrong with IBM. That is, if you were ordered to find a new provider of computer equipment for your business, you could go through the vetting process, talk to a handful of companies and, in the end, pick IBM because who was going to question that?

For consumers and business people alike, affirmation reigns supreme. But it is even more of a driver in business because fear has such a strong pull when important decisions are made. You want to align with something that feels right for you and those around you, so that you can say, “They get it.”

If the brand feels wrong, then it’s eliminated from consideration.

It’s a little like this. In the early 80s, Bruce Feirstein wrote a tongue-in-check book called “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” Even though Feirstein was actually mocking the idea, for years men wouldn’t be caught dead eating quiche. Even though it only contains eggs, cheese and ham on crust. It is basically a southern biscuit masquerading as a pie.

Nonetheless, the brand of quiche took a hit because it lost affirmation.

Branding in Business To Business Marketing

The same is true in logistics branding, that brands can eliminate themselves because some have a brand face (the reflection of the “customer”) that doesn’t jibe. (Read our case study on Trivantage logistics here) For example, one of the many mistakes logistics companies make is that they appear “dumb.” So many logistics brands are just about transportation. Yet, the reason to outsource those capabilities is to acquire “smarts.” Not steel and wheels.

Nonetheless, even logistics brand giants such as CH Robinson, Menlo, Expeditors and Kuehne & Nagel feel just like transportation companies (and most of them do have freight services). Meanwhile, others are getting smarter. Exel and DB Schenker focus on smart and technology, even if their messages aren’t terribly emotional.

“Smart” does feed into the affirmation of the right choice much stronger than simply sounding and looking and feeling like a trucking company.

However, there’s another step. If affirmation is a key trigger in being in the considered set, then why not make the reasons why it’s the smart choice so emotionally powerful that you are always in the considered set? (Read how to analyze a market here)

If you tap into the emotional reasons why “smart” is so coveted, then you have a brand that makes prospects incapable of not including you in the considered set. It becomes a real brand that’s is coveted, remembered and taken seriously.

This is the step most logistics companies don’t make. Even in the entire B2B market, few do. But the ones that do succeed: Xerox, NEC, Hewlett-Packard, FedEx, Intel, General Electric and others.

And IBM. (Read our market study of the manufacturing segment here)

New Breed Case Study Increasing Logistics Market Share

Logistics Case Study

By Tom Dougherty

New Breed Background

New Breed Case Study Logo

New Breed is a leading provider of supply chain network solutions, offering world-class capabilities in facility implementation, physical distribution, information services, and supply chain management. For more than 30 years, they have helped their clients succeed by achieving strategic supply chain-related business objectives. The New Breed model is very attractive to clients, leading them to continued investment in New Breed solutions.

Being in an extremely competitive market space, New Breed came to Stealing Share for help in identifying a position that they could own in the market space. One that separated and differentiated them from the myriad of competitors.

New Breed Case StudyThe Old Brand Promise

The brand promise was a generic, category benefit that identified the brand as delivering timely and dependable logistics in a cost effective manner. It was a claim based upon the table stakes in the logistics category. It described the reason all 3PLs claim as its focus and business value.

The Stealing Share Process

Our behavior model identified some important trends and beliefs that needed to be verified in the market research. One of these would change the face of all viable third party logistics providers (3-PLs). (Read our brand process here)

It was also discovered the the CEO level executive values “finding opportunity in change” as his single greatest concern. These findings, among many others, were infused into the New Breed brand. This rebranding of New breed is a perfect example of how a powerful rebranding does not have to include a new logotype.


The Work

The following is the body copy from the new series of ads.

New Breed Case Study“Supply chain management is such a common business tool that its uncommon potential is easily overlooked. We design and operate supply chain solutions for a new breed of company that recognizes supply chain management as a strategic weapon. New Breed’s expertise, technology and physical infrastructure help you harness the power in your distribution system and find the opportunities in a changing marketplace — propelling your business to new levels. Call 1.800.4.NEW.BREED or visit www.newbreed.com today and let us show you how powerful a weapon your supply chain can be.”




 Read about a smarter way to market Logistics here

Wearwell Increasing B2B Market Share

Wearwell Increasing B2B Market Share Brand Case Study

By Tom Dougherty

Tennessee Mat Company, the largest manufacturer of safety and comfort matting came to Stealing Share® to reposition their venerable brand and to increase

Brand Case Study for Wearwell logo was a change
Tennessee Mat rebranded to Wearwell

preference for its high quality products. However, it was difficult for the target audiences to determine brand quality and value because, from their point of view, matting looked the same, served practically the same purpose, and failed to evoke an emotional connection. Also, due to years of organic growth, the company and its brands were known by both Tennessee Mat corporate identity and Wearwell brand name.

Tennessee Mat agreed that it needed to put a stake in the ground for the brand and begin developing a single brand name that inspired meaning in the marketplace. We focused their energies behind the Wearwell brand.

We then developed a new logo and theme line and crafted a marketing plan designed to position them firmly as the market leader, helping them embody the precepts that drive this highly diversified customer base to choose a brand. We helped build their brand so that customers would understand what Wearwell meant and would then covet the brand based on emotional preferences as well as practical requirements. (Read more about our brand process here)

Marketing Logistics Brand Case Study

A national logistics company, New Breed, (See a case study of New Breed here) was mired in a competitive but stagnant industry. Our own insight into the category of logistics suggested that it was

New Breed Logistics brand case study
New Breed Logistics

moving from the “operational” industry it was when the trucking industry owned it, to a more strategically inclined process powered by technology companies. Consequently, we discovered a novel and profitable target audience for this logistics industry player in the c-level executive and conducted research with more than 400 of those executives across the country. We uncovered a brand position that was two years ahead of the marketplace and aligned with an important precept, finding opportunity in change that appealed to those executives. The brand messaging just had to find the right target to influence in this case.

Automotive Marketing Brand Case Study

JiffyLube, a national “oil change” retailer was losing business and brand identity to auto dealers and needed a share-stealing strategy to counter. Stealing Share® devised a brand strategy, positioned the retailer against dealerships, that aligned with the belief that most of us

Brand Case Study of how JiffyLube needed to grow business
JiffyLube Business Growth

feel out of control when taking our cars to dealers. The resulting campaign brought consumers back to the retailer because the brand strategy addressed a consumer issue that dealers had pushed aside.

Marketing Financial Services

A financial firm that only received new business through referrals and name recognition needed a brand that spoke to men and women with net worth of at least $400,000. We recommended that they narrow their audience even further, focusing on people who have come to some life-changing experience: a divorce, a death of a spouse, first grandchild, nearing retirement, selling a business, etc. Research bolstered the brand strategy which hypothesized that it was during times of drastic change when people desire financial assistance. We identified a brand position that spoke to those people, focusing on the value of life experience. (read a category wide market study on banking here)


Visit Wearwell by clicking here




Trivantage Logistics Brand Case Study

Trivantage Logistics

By Tom Dougherty

Trivantage, an international supplier of specialty fabrics and hardware, was looking to increase its market share after the merger of three companies into one.

Logistics brand case study of a division of Glen Raven
Trivantage is part of Glen Raven

Once formed, Trivantage become the market leader and its logisitcs brand successful, but its emotional connection to customers was absent, leaving it vulnerable to competitors. Trivantage needed to tap into the logistics trends that influences the logistics market.

To help Trivantage rebrand with that, Stealing Share studied the market, which included installers of awnings and other products, with qualitative and quantitative research to uncover what Trivantage could do make its customers more loyal. (Read a case study on New Breed Logistics here)

Stealing Share found that the installers were turned off by complexity. In fact, what they wanted most was to get their order done as easily and quickly as possible.

With that as a basis, Stealing Share helped Trivantage own a new position that reflected logistics trends with a brand position worthy of a successful logistics brand based on the promises of simplicity and control. That resulted in a new brand themeline:

Order. Done. Good Call.

In addition, Stealing Share created a new logo for Trivantage that worked in tandem with the new brand position. The celebratory nature of the logo mark demonstrates the “good call” while the straight line against the mark suggests that the order is completed without fuss.

Original Trivantage Logo:


Old Trivantage Brand Logo

New Trivantage Logo:


From that point on, Stealing Share aided Trivantage in working to fulfill the promise of the brand to customers including brand training.

Today, Trivantage serves customers through 12 state-of-the-art distribution centers with an enhanced online ordering process and same-day service capabilities. Its logistics branding is resonating. It is positioned as a single company with a specific focus that guides it internally and externally in everything it does.

 Read a market study on B2B Here