Article | July 10, 2020
Creating video content may be more time consuming than static imagery, but when it comes to your social media advertising, the benefits are worth it. After all, wouldn’t we all want to boost awareness, engagement, traffic, and conversions as a result? Video content creates faster and stronger connections between brands and their target audiences as they leave less to the imagination, better tell your story, share your message, and captivate users across various platforms in comparison to static images—if executed well.
Article | November 20, 2020
Often people believe that brands do not matter as much in a B2B environment as in a consumer one. In fact, the opposite is often true. In a consumer environment, the buyer is using his or her own money, so it is a major factor in the buying decision. In a B2B environment, the buyer is using the company’s money, and the key driver may be career advancement or even job protection. This means that avoiding making a mistake may be more important than making the best decision. As the old saying went, “no one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” So there are many B2B brands which have achieved and retained a status which justifies a price premium. Strong ingredient brands are among these. So Nutrasweet became a brand which justified a premium, as did Intel. However, these brands cannot simply be exploited without being nurtured. Just as with consumer brands, these brands can die or be superseded. Splenda came along and took much of the same space as Nutrasweet. The fact that it is both an ingredient and stand-alone brand gave it a stronger presence in the mind of the end-user.
In B2B giving a product a name is easy, but that does not necessarily mean a brand in the customer’s mind. The key factor is whether, when we use the B2B grid, the use of the brand is compatible and enhancing to customer perception.
All too often, in B2B, companies sabotage themselves. They focus on price, and in fact draw attention to it. Perhaps, if their costs are lowest, this may give the company leadership for a while. However, they end up placing themselves in the worst quadrant – the commodity segment, such as wheat or iron ore. Second worst is “service goods,” where price is the most likely distinguishing feature, but where the goods are so unimportant that the buyer may ignore price. Such examples are paper clips and cleaning supplies. Following this is the strategic goods quadrant, where price is secondary, even if high. High grade steels in the manufacture of jet aircraft are examples of this. The most envied position is to be a specialty product. An example may be a high priced additive or processing aid. Price is relatively irrelevant if it ensure top quality. When Richard Guha of Take Control Of was CMO of the enterprise software business at Remedy/BMC, he spent much time positioning the product in this way through its brand. The brand was positioned to be the only safe choice to make, but the name was not changed as change was unneeded. It was also priced so that customers could buy on an a la carte basis for modest increments or on a prix fixe basis for a complete turnkey product. In the energy business also, while more difficult, this is still the objective. When energy deregulation started, Houston Industries, the third largest combination utility was faced with the fact that it provided services well beyond Houston, and that, although its name implied it, it manufactured nothing. Thus it rebranded itself as Reliant Energy very successfully. This brand was used in consumer and B2B markets equally.
The challenge which use of branding faces is to add perceived value to the product. Instead of merely “steel” a company such as Mittal Steel has to be perceived as providing some added value to the buyer. In each market, this may be different. The most extreme situations are when a product or service is “clearly” a commodity. One of the most obvious commodities is rigid metal packaging, aka, cans! Yet,
can manufacturers have succeeded in differentiating themselves on the basis of service, technological innovation, and end-user sensitivity. Often, adding service to product can add perceived value.
In B2B companies it should be far easier to measure and control the value of a brand. Usually, there is a direct connection to the customer. CRM systems, if well managed (another story), can identify them, and allow the company to understand the meaning of the brand, and the difference it makes to the price realized vs. an unbranded alternative. The sum of these differences is the effective Brand Value. Knowing all the levers to pull makes is possible to enhance it in far more direct ways than for a consumer brand.
In short, we have seen that in B2B markets, a brand can go even further in adding value to a product or service than in a consumer market.
Max Brand Equity works with corporations, turnaround managers, and private equity firms to understand and maximize the value of their brands – often the most valuable part of a business.
Article | April 8, 2020
Artificial intelligence marketing is looking to change the game of leveraging customer data, with newfound concepts of machine learning to anticipate the next move to enhance a customer’s journey. Read on to find out more.
The last few years that went by a bear a fine witness to the rise of innovation in marketing. With newer tools and trends popping up every minute, and a majority of them actually living up to the hype, marketing teams can dream about bringing the sun and the moon closer.
Article | December 11, 2020
The Coronavirus pandemic brought an old realization back to businesses – The devil is in the detail. As stores shut and opened tentatively, Amazon’s delivery cycles stretched and returned, and brands reconfigured production-supply chain combinations several times in a span of months, one thing was clear – staying strong and emerging through the current chaos would require close attention to details on a real-time basis:
Where is the demand moving?
What’s my inventory?
What are my operating costs and profit margins on one channel vs. another?
What are my buyers’ other options right now?
How do I optimize digital assortments?
What are the new and emerging customer needs?
And amid the chaos, another thing became apparent to brands – they needed a robust digital strategy to not just drive through this crisis but to thrive in the emerging world. Driven by lockdown restrictions and the desire for safety, more consumers have moved online.
According to research by Adobe Analytics, the total U.S. online sales reached $73.2 billion in June 2020, year over year up 76.2% (from $41.5 billion the previous year).
Consumer research by various teams at Course5 Intelligence has shown that the pandemic has created a large population of first-timers on eCommerce, with a massive increase in online spending by those who were already shopping online earlier. Most research respondents said that their shopping would continue to be omnichannel in the future, with an increased share of online.
And yet that’s only part of the reason why brands need an effective digital strategy. Even before consumers buy their products, they are looking online for information on what they want, availability, meeting the safety standards, and aligning with their preferences and needs. Google and Amazon have become the first point of research when users when to buy something, so digital lies at the very start of their purchase journey. And this is also where digital has distinctive strength over offline channels – the space and scope for a brand to define their brand, highlight distinguishing characteristics from competitor products, share user reviews to gain credibility, and deliver highly customized price-product offers, optimizing gain for buyers and the business.
However, many CPG companies do not have their direct-to-consumer platforms; many are still focused on partnering with a variety of e-marketplaces that exist globally or regionally.
How do you optimize your brand parameters for eCommerce platforms?
Even though many brands have set up their own D2C sites (for instance, PepsiCo’s snacks.com and pantryshop.com), there is no comparison in reach with major eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, Flipkart, Shopify, Tesco, Target, Alibaba, Costco among others; your brand needs to be here. Each of these platforms has different engagement parameters for brands. While Amazon has 1P (1st party – Amazon is the wholesale buyer and markets and sells to consumers) and 3P (3rd party – Brand sells direct to consumer via Amazon) options, with Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant) options within 3P, others have a variety of other arrangements brands must choose. Making more significant decisions such as choosing the platform/s you want your brand on, the right selling/fulfillment strategy and base pricing to fine-tuning the advertising, product messaging, price, optimizing the supply value chain and product assortment on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis requires a combination of real-time contextual insight and the digital capabilities to be responsive.
Course5 Intelligence has been helping CPG, Retail, and Technology brands use AI-driven insight mechanisms and digital capabilities to define their eCommerce strategy and improve revenues in three broad ways —
WIN THE DIGITAL SHELF BATTLE
Price — How do I optimize my pricing strategy based on various trends?
Product portfolio — How do I optimize my product portfolio and packaging initiatives?
Catalog — Which categories do I overplay?
Market Share — How do I drive sales and gain market share faster than my competitors?
Brand Hygiene — How do I optimize search, product discovery, and reach for all my SKUs?
OPTIMIZE MARKETING SPEND
Ad-spend Attribution — What marketplaces are delivering the maximum ‘clicks to revenue’?
Purchase Signals — Are my ads targeted on purchase signals or on guesstimates?
DEMYSTIFY DATA COMPLEXITIES
Enable Quick Decisions — Do I have visibility on all dimensions and objectives?
Expedite Data Semantics — How quickly can I glean insights from new data sources?
Solve the ‘Alt-Tab’ Environment — Does my analysis exist in an ‘alt-tab’ environment? Or within a single product?
These are just a few data points that drive action within an effective and profitable eCommerce strategy. CPG brands that would like to make lasting inroads to consumers’ online shopping habits will need to deliver compelling value to buyers continuously. To do this, they will need to expertly navigate a complex and dynamic set of parameters to shine through at every level of the buyer’s journey – from the first appearance on the buyer’s horizon to becoming their first and last choice, always ensuring that the numbers match across buying price to experienced value.
Optimizing your digital marketplace strategy for the end-to-end buyer journey in an amorphous market landscape is the only way to stay ahead of the competition, establish category leadership, and increase revenue on a sustained basis.