Growing market share today
By Tom Dougherty
With the economy still struggling and so many people without jobs, many consumers have been forced to part with brands they are loyal to in favor of a cheaper generic product. Because of this, many manufacturers have seen continuing drops in their revenue, causing many to panic – and often for good reason.
The big question is, when the economy picks up, will the consumer return to their legacy brand and leave the generic product? The answer to this depends on how your brand performed prior to this slump and how tenacious you have been in continuing to maintain your brand loyalty during this time.
With job cuts at record highs, many consumers parted from some of their preferred brands based on price and price alone – with the cheaper store brands being chosen over name brands. In times of economic stress, even when all is not quite equal, price will be the deciding factor unless you truly have something that differentiates you from the pack – a brand message, a compelling reason for the consumer to remain loyal.
The consumer has been forced to make some hard choices during this downturn, but not all the big brands are losing to the cheaper store brands. Why is this? Because, even during rough times (especially during the rough times), consumers’ desire to feel special and look to a brand to achieve this. They see themselves reflected in the brand and aspire toward what the brand itself represents.
For example, a ketchup manufacturer can talk about great taste, quality ingredients and price, but these are not what drive preference. They are “table skates,” something any ketchup manufacturer must have to be part of the category.
A brand message, meanwhile, that appeals to the beliefs of the target audience and provides an aspiration for them is what will drive preference – and even be able to get you through the tough economic times.
Where Does Preference Come From?
Preference comes from understanding what your customer covets. Have you positioned yourself in a way that reflects who they are or who they aspire to be? And more importantly, in spite of declining sales, are you continuing to get the brand message across?
The economy is rebounding to some extent and those that have protected their brand or reassessed their brands will once again see their profits return. As long as your brand is not talking about the product but rather your brand promise (the customers end benefit), then you have a very good chance of the consumer rebounding to your brand.
Some Good Examples of growing market share today
Let’s use the peanut butter category as another example. In the case of Jif, don’t fool yourself into thinking that taste has anything to do with why it is the market leader. If Jif had been foolish enough to tout its brand as “tastes best,” it would surely be in trouble. That’s because consumers forced to choose a generic brand will discover that the store brand tastes just as good the legacy brand.
You cannot position brand around table stakes such as taste, quality, etc., because eventually you will be found out. Unfortunately, many companies have done just that with their brands. They failed to understand their consumers.
This is not the case with Jif, however. It built its brand around choosy mothers. They unearthed that emotional nerve compelling many of us (knowing there is no difference) to choose the Jif brand. (Here you will find links to our market studies)
Hellmann’s is another example of a brand that promises the consumer something special. Again, consumers who have been forced by financial circumstance to choose a generic brand lose out on that something they get/experience with the Hellmann’s brand, even though all mayonnaise basically tastes the same. It’s what they covet– that feeling – the mayonnaise of childhood. Something they just don’t get from the generic brand.
Now is not the time to roll over. Does your brand appeal to your target audience or those you are wishing to influence? To reiterate, your message must be compelling enough to resonate with your consumer now more than ever.