All Brands Have Potential to Steal Market Share
Your prospect’s potential attachment to your brand can be measured and understood when you have a complete and clear understanding of the “meaning” that they assign to your brand. Uncovering that meaning is the first step in the process — understanding the implications of that meaning is the second step.
We learn a great deal about the robustness of brand importance when we examine it in this way. We can understand the current preference levels, the competitors that are most vulnerable to attack, and predict trends and currents.
All of this gathered intelligence data has strategic and tactical implications for all of us. It is a start in assessing your market share potential. But it is JUST a start.
If you do not have this information (and subsequent analysis) at your fingertips you are steering blindly. If your competitors have this knowledge and you don’t’ — you are on the fast track to a major collision and your brand will come out holding short-stick, even if you are currently the runaway market leader.
Knowledge is Different from Information
The idea of information and knowledge are linked — in that the clarity and value of the information you collect about your brand and the competitive market space in which you compete directly effects the value and resulting usefulness of the knowledge you glean. The information you collect is directly linked to the questions you ask.
Your marketing strategy would be well served if the same amount of time that went into the analysis of the data were equally spent on the formation of the questions you ask. When Stealing Share or Resultant creates research questionnaires, we spend many weeks creating the research questions. Before the first question is scribed, our strategists have already evaluated the competitive landscape, outlined the major competitors, modeled the behavior of the potential customers we wish to influence, and have hypothesized strategic solutions to the problem.
Each of these important steps is necessary because strategic research is different from marketing U&A studies. In U&A studies, marketers are trying to understand how the product (or category of products) is used by the target audience and how they feel about them. Often, an analysis of awareness is included and many times researchers will also probe for what the “brand” means. These studies, made popular by companies with large R&D departments are necessary in helping guide product innovation and change. They are nearly worthless when trying to identify a strategy to take market share from your competitors.
A Preceptive Market Share Study
Preceptive is not a misspelling of perceptive. Precepts are life-organizational beliefs; they are the Magna Charta, Constitution, and Bill of Rights (all wrapped up in one). These core belief systems control everything your potential customer does, needs and wants because they “BELIEVE” them to be true.
All of the desires that your customer needs to fill are a result of these core precepts. Once a precept is adopted as true (there is no need for them to be true, just to believe them to be true is more than enough) the potential customer is compelled to live their life according to them. As brand anthropologists, we are able to use these powerful currents to ignite trial and loyalty of your brand.
It is quite simple to understand. If the customer is already using a competitor’s product or service, then there is no need to convince them of the efficacy of the category. (Read more about preceptive modeling here) For example, if they use a bank then there is not reason to convince them that using a bank is safe and smart. If they already choose to dine at a restaurant or to stay at a hotel, then there is no reason to convince them that great food or clean and reasonably priced rooms exist. (Read more about the kind of research you need to understand preference)
If they currently use an office phone system, there is no reason to convince them that these systems are necessary, reliable, and easy to use. If they currently have an employee health plan, then there is no reason to convince them that the health plan you sell is reliable, flexible, and affordable. In all of these cases, these are examples of category benefits.
Once you understand that category benefits are indeed “table stakes” and are the minimum values needed to compete in any category, you are left looking for reasons for a potential customer to choose your brand and how they measure your brand importance. This is where PRECEPTS come into play — and they are more important than claims of effectiveness and product benefit (which are important too).
They are important because they represent the fabric of your potential customer and if your brand represents these precepts, its importance is woven into the very fabric of the brand itself. Choosing differently would be akin to choosing a stranger over a family member or the familiar over the alien. It is where preference resides and yet many brands continue to fight for acceptance rather than preference. This is a mistake — acceptance is merely a result of reflecting the category” table stakes” and preference is where your margins reside.
Finding Your Brand Meaning, Market Share Potential and Niche
This is a complicated subject to tackle in 900 words and if you desire to learn more, have a conversation with one of your brand strategists and they can explain all the nuances and implications of looking differently at your marketing challenges and developing a plan to create a lasting preference at the expense of your competition.
For now, it suffices to say that if your brand returns meaning from your customers that represent category benefits or even levels of effectiveness (like best, fastest, and largest) you have danger signals all around you. These are not “brand” attributes (which are emotional and rooted in Precept) but product attributes which can quickly change colors as soon as a competitor is better, faster, or bigger.
Training your customers or potential customers to choose in this way is a dangerous step and one that foretells future troubles. Finding the cues to preference is much more nuanced and difficult than understanding usage behaviors. But, it is vastly more powerful and will propel your brand to preference and market dominance.