Growing Market Share through brand building in manufacturing
In manufacturing, like many other industries, there is a tendency to confuse the business of the business with the business of the brand.
This means that there is often confusion in the value proposition of the brand —describing the brand in terms of the product and its efficacy rather than the brand equity that adds value and increases margins. In many manufacturing environments, it has become a numbers game – the more widgets a company can produce the more money they make.
This mentality, in essence, buys into the abyss that drives the products that are manufactured into the role of commodities. The brand is the product and the product is the brand. In today’s manufacturing environment, there is great similarity between products and it is often difficult to slide a sheet of paper between the differences in attributes between competing products.
There may be no real difference in product efficacy, and if there is a difference, it may well be a fleeting one. In the absence of a REAL brand with defined brand equity, all manufacturers have left is a commodity definition – forced to compete solely on the basis of price and relationships.
Therefore because of the need to start brand building in manufacturing, many savvy companies have begun to take pages out of the consumer-marketing manual and have changed their tactics to better reflect those of consumer marketing.
Manufacturers are learning that in order to be successful, their brands must be more than a commodity. The value proposition of these products must be woven around the personality and belief systems of the target market, even if the target market is other businesses. This means that the brand must be more than corporate identity or category benefit that has sufficed in the past. (Read here about the importance of market research)
The manufacturing market itself controls the arguments
The market defines itself as a commodity and, therefore, confuses brand promise with product efficacy. As a result of this, nowhere is brand more important than in “generic categories.” It may be the only means by which customers can choose beyond generic benefits and marketing messages.
If your price point is similar — and your product is identical — then build your brand around the precepts of the customer you wish to influence to differentiate and hold meaning to the target audience. In this model we have simply replaced the self-descriptor axis with a value line that identifies the possible customer.
The brand opportunity will vary depending on the precepts that your target market views as true and important. In this example, let’s say that your target is risk adverse and is more interested in service than price (not to say that price does not matter at all).
A solution to increasing margins and preference
(Read about analyzing a market here) So, if you manufacture XYZ widget, you would allow the product to sell the attributes (category table stakes) and overlay the value of the brand on top of it.
This will identify the preceptive needs of the target market within the category. In this example the business of the brand is all about keeping risk and change to a minimum and backing it up with an emphasis on better service. Suddenly, the target market that seeks the status quo finds the widget offered them by a brand that promises to deliver the widget with an added value that reflects the corporate values of the customer. This identification of values helps them choose and will steal market share from the competition.