Baby Boomer Branding: How and Why to Market to this Lucrative Demographic

Although there’s a lot of talk about millennials and their desire to engage in consumerism, it’s important not to overlook the baby boomer generation, born from the end of World War 2 up to the early 1960s (roughly between 1946-1964). After all, Baby Boomers hold 70 percent of all disposable income in the United States.

 

Also, government data indicates that the baby boomers outspend other generational groups’ spending on consumer products and services by an average of $400 million.

 

  

 

Branding Strategies for Baby Boomers: A Unique Process

 

If those statistics have stimulated your curiosity and made it clear that to overlook the baby boomer demographic is potentially a very costly mistake, keep in mind that you can’t just retool most of your brand concepts currently used to reach out to older target markets.

 

For starters, baby boomers are usually very loyal to brands—and as shown by the opening statistics, they have disposable income. Also, don’t assume that this demographic will settle for less as they get older, or even that they’ll settle down.

 

When looking at the specifics associated with marketing to baby boomers, experts have found that this group prefers living in comfortable homes surrounded by the latest amenities. Also, they generally want to maintain very active lifestyles. Those findings align with what we’ve discovered when developing brands to meet the needs of affinity groups within this demographic.

 

 

 

Misconceptions about Baby Boomers are Common

 

Even marketers who are guided by solid research and good intentions sometimes miss the mark as they attempt to resonate with the baby boomer generation. Often, that’s due in large part to some pervasive misconceptions.

 

Earlier, we mentioned how baby boomers tend to be faithful to the brands they love. That’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that baby boomers are set in their ways. According to Nielsen research from 2012, only five percent of advertising budgets were geared toward baby boomers, but some experts believe baby boomers are not as brand loyal as millennials.

 

There’s another prevailing assumption about baby boomers, which some of our clients have expressed: the belief that baby boomers are not tech-savvy.

 

Although baby boomers were not early adopters of technology, they tend to use tech devices more frequently than you might expect. However, they do so differently than their younger counterparts.

 

Whereas a younger person might primarily use social media to connect with friends, baby boomers may feel more compelled to do so because that’s the way their kids and grandkids share updates and photos. The shift over to technology, in many cases, probably wasn’t primarily out of desire, but because boomers realized social media was the quickest way to keep in touch with younger generations.

 

Additionally, apps that are related to health services frequently get built for cross-generational appeal. Some boomers have shown interest in using an app that might help them check in faster for a hospital appointment or enjoy easier access to medical records, for example.

 

Finally, some marketers seem to forget that the baby boomer generation encompasses anyone between the ages of 51 and 69. It’s not sufficient to believe that certain branding strategies will universally connect with everyone. A younger baby boomer might prefer very active vacations, while one who’s nearing 70 or older may want to go on a cruise instead.

 

Of course, that’s a very broad example. The point is, marketers should try to focus their brand strategy on reaching baby boomers of certain ages, through developing affinity groups as a tool for profiling them or at least recognizing that older baby boomers have different needs and desires than younger ones.

 

 

 

Examples of When Multi-Generational Branding Strategies Can Work

 

Even though you’ve now learned how there’s a fine art to baby boomer branding, don’t get discouraged and think it’s necessary to do away with every tactic you use to appeal to younger generations. In fact, research has shown there are some valuable commonalities. In fact, some of our clients achieved the best results with cross-generational approaches.

 

Specifically, both boomers and millennials love bargains, and a high percentage of them (more than 80 percent for either group) are very comfortable shopping online. Also, 75 percent of boomers and millennials are more likely to purchase something if it’s associated with a perk, such as a loyal discount or a coupon.

 

Now, let’s take a look at some actionable strategies, and case studies of companies that have used them well.

 

 

 

Case Study: J. Jill and the Uncomplicate Clothing Line

 

As discussed above, baby boomers don’t want to settle for less when they get older. The clothing brand J. Jill took that into consideration with its Uncomplicate collection, which is marketed toward baby boomers.

 

 

 J Jill Site 600px

Image via www.jjill.com

 

 

The goal is to show that like younger generations of females, older women also deserve wardrobe upgrades. With this clothing line, they can look forward to clothes that are equal parts fashionable and comfortable.

  

Focus groups held before the new line kicked off found that women prefer attire they can easily dress up or down. When analyzing details of the Uncomplicate line, marketers realized that baby boomers wanted to look their best, without wasting time that could be used for more important pursuits. J. Jill also embraces a mix-and-match style with its Wearever line. These proactive steps reflect the brand’s realization that baby boomers have just as many reasons to enjoy new clothes as younger generations.

  

  

 

 

 

No matter how you market to boomers, we’ve found that customers respond best when you make it easy for them to meet their identified needs.

 

 

 

Case Study: Harley Davidson’s Tricycles

 

Baby boomers don’t like to be given the hard sell. They want to see the benefits of a product, but not in an intrusive way. Sometimes, brands have enough of a built-in following that people of all ages understand there are inherent advantages to choosing them, so there’s no need for a massive marketing campaign.

 

 

 Harley Davidson Free Wheeler 600px

Image via www.harley-davidson.com

 

 

 

Harley-Davidson has released a three-wheel motorcycle called the Freewheeler that’s made for great stability, but still reaches impressive speeds. The Freewheeler is an improvement on a previous model of a three-wheel model, which was called the Tri Glide. In comparison, the Freewheeler is less bulky and features a lighter weight than its predecessor. Reviews of the Freewheeler trike are generally favorable, and the brand’s press release boasts, “Riding on three wheels has never been cooler.”

  

   

 

  

   

Going back to what you’ve read about baby boomers wanting to stay active, this trike is a perfect example of that principle. Sometimes it’s not necessary to reinvent a product so it caters to baby boomers, but to just tweak the details while preserving the familiar aspects that attracted consumers in the first place.

 

 

  

Case Study: Spirit 50

 

Across the world, there have been concerns that as baby boomers get older and require more medical attention, there will be an increased demand on the healthcare system. One forward-thinking Canadian entrepreneur named Erin Billowits is trying to keep baby boomers healthier as they age by marketing a fitness program that lets her demographic work out at home. The program, Spirit 50, combines instructional videos with step-by-step instructions. Users can even purchase consultations that take place over Skype.

 

  Spirit50 600px

Image via  www.spirit50.com

 

 

In her research, Billowits found that a majority of baby boomers want to improve their health, and many are willing to make small, proactive changes without being prodded.

 

When designing her fitness program, Billowits looked at possible technological barriers. As you can see from the format of this YouTube clip, the exercises are explained in a straightforward way that’s not patronizing. Also, because the videos aren’t lengthy, most browsers should start playing them right away.

 

  


 

 

 

If you plan to market something to baby boomers that’s technological in nature, it’s important to do the legwork beforehand and make sure your concept doesn’t come across as overwhelming. Billowits identified that a need was there, but she recognized that some of her clientele may not be willing to embrace her exercise concept if it took them too far out of their comfort zones. 

 

Furthermore, to sign up for a fitness plan, users only have to submit usernames, passwords, and e-mails. That’s simple enough even for baby boomers who aren’t accustomed to filling out a lot of online forms.

 

  

 

 

Case Study: Japanese Convenience Stores

 

In Japan, convenience stores are doing whatever they can to appeal to an older demographic. Executives have realized that a growing number of people from the baby boomer generation are stopping into Japanese convenience stores to get what they need without delay. A few major brands are branching out by offering a home delivery service of nutritious and easy-to-make meals, including bento boxes. This strategy appeals to boomers who aren’t willing to sustain themselves on sodium-riddled frozen dinners of low nutritional value.

 

Some stores stock attire that’s marketed toward an older demographic, but others focus on more practical things, such as healthcare items that baby boomers might need. Others have thrown their hats into the ring and aimed to meet needs that are a little more obscure, but still have merit. Two examples are health advice counters, and karaoke equipment that turns convenience stores into social gathering places for baby boomers who want to have fun among their peers.

 

These kinds of purpose-based approaches make sense. If baby boomers feel alienated due to a perception that most of what’s available to consumers isn’t relevant to their lives, they’re less likely engage with a particular brand or shop at a particular establishment, no matter how convenient it claims to be.

  

 

 

 

Case Study: Ford Motors

 

As Ford Motors has discovered, successfully marketing to baby boomers starts during the engineering process. The company makes some of its auto engineers wear “aging suits” that mimic what it’s like to be an older driver. Dubbed the Third Age Suit, the device is designed to make a person physically feel approximately 30 years older. Using a corset and orthotic devices, the suit causes stiffness in the hip region, knees, shoulders, and feet. Earplugs simulate being hard of hearing, and special goggles mimic vision-related disorders that are common in older adults.

  

   

  

  

 

Although this case study doesn’t represent an example of direct marketing to baby boomers, it demonstrates an effort made by engineers in the early phases to understand how aging affects driver capabilities and comfort. This could eventually influence baby boomers to choose certain makes and models of vehicles over others.

 

 

 

 

A Worthy Venture

 

Clearly, the baby boomer generation is not to be overlooked when it comes to ensuring that your brand gets noticed by those with a great deal of purchasing power.

 

Although it’s necessary to tailor your branding strategies using some of the methodologies discussed above, the ultimate payoff could be a major factor in helping your business stay competitive and indeed become more profitable in a crowded marketplace. 

 

 

You make also like:

 

• Millennial Branding: Creating Brands to Appeal to Teens and Young Adults

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

 

• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?

    

• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaigns Ever

 

• Packaging Design: How to Make it into an Irresistible Customer Brand Magnet

 

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Strong Enough to Compete?  

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

 

 

 

So what do you think?

 

• Have you used brand profiling and positioning is when marketing to baby boomers?

 

• Do you think a brand name that alludes to the baby boomer market, such as ‘Spirit 50’ is an important part of the brand strategy for connecting with a target audience?

 

Rebranding strategy was crucial for J.Jill when realizing, during a brand audit and through market research studies, that the fashion needs of baby boomers weren’t being met. Have you had a similar moment that has made you discover that baby boomers may be an untapped market?

 

• In Japan, several convenience stores have incorporated the needs of an older generation into the brand identity design. Do you think that will eventually mean that the majority of convenience store shoppers will be much older than in preceding generations?

 

Brand positioning was a crucial aspect for marketing the Harley-Davidson trikes to a market that was already likely cued into what makes the brand worth following. Do you think that the brand strategy was comprehensive enough, or should it have been more extensive?

 

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Destination Branding: The Key Essentials for Success

Travel is one of the largest industries in the world, with several trillion dollars spent globally by travellers each year, and within that mix, destination branding has become an increasingly important part of the marketing strategy for locations and the businesses that serve their area’s tourist demographic.

 

Destination branding, or place branding, can be complex. There are a multitude of brand strategies specifically related to the needs of products or services – but location branding is effectively a combination of all those offerings collectively. Building a destination brand strategy can focus on several top line or key targets, depending on the area and the offerings, which may include:

  • Understanding and highlighting the market perceptions of your destination
  • Capturing the unique essence of your destination and its special attributes
  • Building on media and cultural references that link to your destination

  

  

Creating and Amplifying Market Expectations

When it comes to destinations, many people already have a certain perception in mind. Everyone “knows” that if you’re visiting England, there’s a high likely hood it might rain and the royal family with its historic associations (pomp and circumstance, events or historic locations) might also feature on your radar, and in Egypt first time visitors might expect to be surrounded by pyramids and camels wherever they go! Of course those clichés and people’s perceptions aren’t always right!

 

The first step for any successful destination branding campaign is to understand how your destination is perceived and then either change tired expectations, or amplify more unique positive ones. The expectation of the experience is all in the brand promise of destination brand, and your branding needs to really ‘dial up’ the experience that you want your destination to reflect, and be associated with, in a way that’s truly unique and relevant to your primary target audience.

 

Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland, does this very well through one of their more recent marketing campaigns of the Wild Atlantic Way where you can experience one of the wildest, most enchanting and culturally rich coastal touring routes in the world. Wherever you travel along the Wild Atlantic Way you’ll find magic, adventure, history and beauty in abundance. Divided into five main sections each part offers you memories that will last a lifetime. The brand story and video are very compelling – whether you’re native Irish born or an overseas visitor!

 

 

  

Another example of a successful image-changing campaign based around expectations comes from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the official destination marketing organization of Las Vegas. When tourism declined in “Sin City” following the 9-11 attacks and a number of unsuccessful attempts by some businesses to position themselves as “family friendly,” the LVCVA developed a massive campaign called “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”

 

 

 

The branding campaign, which included a dedicated website and several brief and humorous TV commercials, worked to recapture audience perception of Las Vegas as a place for adults to have slightly risky fun with no lasting consequences. Overall, the strategy was successful at driving tourist traffic and creating a strong brand for Las Vegas.

 

New Zealand has been highly successful at capitalizing on audience expectations that were created through the worldwide hit movie series The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, based on the classic fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien and filmed in New Zealand.

  

 

  

Air New Zealand cashed in on the Hobbit craze with its safety video and Tourism New Zealand embraced the idea that their country was now seen as “Middle-Earth,” and created an ad campaign around that perception to reinforce the brand.

  

    

Aside from the country itself, some New Zealand businesses have also capitalized on the worldwide fame resulting from the movies—such as The Green Dragon pub, the original film set for the Hobbit pub in The Lord of the Rings movies, which became an actual pub that’s open to the public.

  

Green Dragon Pub Hobbiton Nz 

 Image via www.dailymail.co.uk and London Media

  

  

Capitalizing on Personality and Character

One of the most effective strategies for destination branding is the ability to define, articulate, and convey the unique qualities of your particular destination. This strategy delves into the primal mindset of the traveller – people head out on holiday to get away from their everyday lives and experience something completely new.

 

Successful destination branding is all about that tangible experience at every touch point for your primary audience. This starts from the moment they start thinking about visiting your location, possibly prompted by your successful marketing campaign, to the moment they arrive. Every one of those ‘brand experiences’ must positively reinforce what your brand stands for and what makes it different to your competitors, reaffirming they made the right choice and your destination is even better than they expected! You want them to leave ‘wanting to come back’ and enthusiastically referring your destination to friends and family or better still extolling ‘your destinations virtues’ on social channels.

 

Australia is most assuredly a unique location, and Tourism Australia has found incredible success with their destination branding efforts by highlighting the characteristics of the land, the people, and the wildlife that can be found nowhere else. The organisation’s advertising campaign, “There’s Nothing Like Australia,” uses powerful visuals and dramatic music and narration to project the excitement of Australia directly to viewers.

 

  

In addition, Tourism Australia offers multimedia presentations through their Bringing the Brand to Life website section, which explore their branding concepts and strategies through video series and a book.

 

 

Hitching Your Wagon to the Stars

Media tie-ins are a powerful branding strategy, and there are plenty of resources for destination branding. One particularly strong example can be found with the UK and VisitBritain, a tourism organisation that is working to change the sometimes slightly grey or stuffy perceptions some of the world associates with the UK, and highlight the beauty and excitement to be found throughout this stunning and incredibly culturally rich country.

  

For example, VisitBritain created an international commercial that was shown in theatres around the world in conjunction with Skyfall, one of the more recent iconic James Bond movie series. The commercial shows the evolution of Bond through various actors who have played the British superspy, and brings it all together by urging audiences to visit Britain and “live like Bond.”

 

  

VisitBritan has also launched a series of celebrity commercials, in which globally recognized Brits explore what they love about the country. Dame Judy Dench performs a spot that revolves around Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII many wives! Other commercials in this series star Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame, prominent English model and actress Twiggy, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

 

 

  

 

  

Bringing Them to You

At its heart, destination branding follows the same principles as any other successful branding strategy, though typically on a much larger scale. One of the keys to successful destination branding is to be very clear on ‘what your brand stands for’, what makes your brand different to your competitors and to follow through on this with a very clear and compelling picture of how you’re going to fulfill that promise and meet those expectations. 

 

You’ve got to connect with your audience on their terms at a very personal level, maintain consistency through every aspect of your branding – from the distillation of your branding promise throughout, to your brand experience at every customer touch point and how everything ‘looks and feels’ from a brand style perspective. It must all look and feel like it all unmistakably comes from the same ‘stable’ and be irresistible to your primary target customer in a way that’s truly relevant to them.

 

What do you think?

 

• How does your potential audience currently perceive your destination?

 

• What are the perceptions you’re looking to create for your market?

 

• How can you develop an expectation of your unique experience, and follow through on your brand promise?

 

• What makes your destination unique and worth visiting and how can you leverage that more powerfully?

 

• Are there any global media tie-ins you can connect with your destination brand?

 

 

Brand Traction : How to Make Your Brand Memorable – For The Right Reasons!

When we talk about brand traction we mean ‘sticking power’ in the sense that customers really understand what a company’s brand is all about, what it stands for, its reputation overall and how relevant it is to their own lives. But we also mean ‘force’ in terms of being able to pull ahead of its competitors.

 

Brand traction is something that has to be cumulatively built up over time, be it service or product, through the relationships it has with its suppliers, staff, customers and the media.

  

Mcdonalds Im Lovin It

 

Relationships with the media are extremely important in terms of brand traction too, and not just in the promotional sense. Walmart and McDonald’s, for instance, are currently being ostracised in the States over their failure to pay what is perceived as a minimum wage. Starbucks and Amazon meanwhile are facing criticism over their failure to pay UK taxes.

 

Both of these issues will adversely affect the reputation of these multi-national companies to some degree, generate negative brand traction and compromise sales because certain consumers will boycott them on principle alone. No company wants to be known as the organisation that doesn’t pay its staff a living wage or reneges on its tax obligations.

 

Then there are the brands that have positive brand traction, who are memorable for all the right reasons. A major study recently by US research firm Added Value looked at the cultural traction of a number of the world’s largest brands, 160 brands over 15 sectors to be exact. They measured them in terms of four major metrics – how visionary they were, inspiring, bold and exciting.

 

Top10 Global Brands

 

This infographic shows the results in terms of the Top 10 Global Brands. The most rapid-changing and innovative sector in society at this moment in time, computing and technology, not surprisingly claims the top three positions.

 

Casualties were Facebook (remember its recent rows over privacy?) and alcohol brands which all suffered in terms of popularity due to what the study described as ‘a fall in cultural relevance.’ Absolut Vodka was the highest alcohol brand in the study.

  

Dove Models Real Beauty

 

In contrast, Dove with its 10 year long ‘real beauty’ campaign, where it dispelled media representations of idealized female beauty, was described as responsible and its brand traction positively increased as a result. It was also noted for its creativity.

 

  

In terms of the list then it’s clear to see that the brands which ranked highest were innovative, forward-thinkers and leaders in their field – they ‘dared to be different’ – none of them could ever be accused of being bland. All are distinctive, and we don’t mean this in terms of their logo or advertising jingle, but largely through the way in which they ‘see the world’, engage with it and endeavour to change it.

 

Amazon Logo 

 

Amazon is a brand which has gained huge traction in the field of cloud computing. The US Central Intelligence Agency recently considered dropping IBM (whom they’ve been with for years) in favour of the global company which initially made its name in the world of e-commerce as a global powerhouse. 

 

Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to achieve better brand traction last year PepsiCo engaged in an intense bout of brand building via a huge advertising and marketing spend (5.7 per cent of revenue). In North America they flooded stores with in-house displays and globally launched the Pepsi campaign ‘Live for Now’. With it came a new positioning statement involving the idea of ‘Now’, ‘as in the present moment’. Early figures indicate the campaign has been successful.

 

 

Runner and Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake attempted to up his brand traction by emulating his fellow team mate Usain Bolt, known for his famous lightning pose, by creating a pose for his own personal brand. Unfortunately in his case the results weren’t quite so successful. In order to achieve ‘brand’ success Blake needs to develop his own distinct brand personality, different positioning, memorable message and authentic promise instead of trying to be a boring copy of something that’s already been successfully done, in effect ‘owned’ by another entity.

  

 Yohan Blake

  

At present Blake is endeavouring to grow his brand traction by imitating Bolt, through adopting a pose after a race, when really he should be trying to differentiate himself and show his own unique qualities. His ‘brand message’ should also be unique to make his brand credible. After all it’s what he stands for and the associations that come with the pose that will ultimately lead to stronger branding for Blake.

 

  • How much traction do you think your brand currently has?

  

  • Are there areas in which you perhaps, need to do a bit more work, in order to achieve more brand cohesiveness?

  

  • Where would your brand stand in the Added Value survey in terms of visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting?

 

Branding for Women: 80% Plus of FMCG Buying Decisions Are Made by Women

At least 80 per cent of household buying decisions today are typically controlled by women, especially in the areas of fast moving consumer goods. The question is, are you developing and marketing your brand effectively to this dominant ‘wallet controlling’ audience? Is your brand positioning, story, values and offering resonating with their needs? Are you capturing and holding their attention or have you overlooked their buying power?

 

And just in case you were breathing a sigh of relief because your brand isn’t in the FMCG category, don’t get too comfortable or complacent either. US marketing expert Marti Barletta points to an old report by the Automotive Service Councils of California way back in 1999 which showed that even then, females influenced 80 per cent of all car purchases and in 95 of 100 cases had the final say when purchasing decisions were being made where couples were involved. In addition, an article in Business Week (2004) showed women bought two thirds of all cars sold and influenced 80 per cent of sales. I mention these old stats for my more sceptical readers because female purchasing power has continued to grow year on year, and even more so relative to this older research.

 

Surveys into consumer electronics have likewise shown that women spend just as much as men on ‘gadgets.’ However females tend to buy at a later stage in the process with the early adopters of technology being men. Women tend to buy once ‘the problems have been straightened out,’ said Barletta.

 

 Nokia Lumia 1020

 

Multi-national electronics brand Nokia started marketing to women after realising more females than men were buying smartphones. The brand’s senior consumer insights manager Elizabeth Southwood told Marketing Week last month: “We were aware of technology brands alienating women with their tone and messaging but also of the fact that increasing numbers of ladies were adopting smartphones which has now overtaken men, 58 per cent to 42 per cent, as well as other tech.” 

 

As a result the phone giant ran a female focused promotional campaign named Remarkable Women in which they gave a community of career types – and generally busy women who’d overcome a whole series of obstacles in their lives – a Nokia Lumia. The inference was how much having a phone would help make their lives so much easier. A whole community was set up around the promotion, launched earlier this year in the UK, and is continuing to gain momentum.

 

Remarkable Women

 

Image via Remarkable Women (Facebook)

 

Research has also shown that not only do women tend to make most of the spending decisions in the household, for both everyday and larger items such as furniture, their decision-making process as a rule tends to differ from their male counterparts. That’s because women prefer to go into secondary considerations such as other brand options as well as features, benefits and price. Men, on the other hand tend to be more focused and judge whether or not it satisfies their primary consideration i.e it plays music and looks good.

 

 Office Max Logo

 

US stationary company Office Max earned themselves a precious CNN news spot when they decided (like Nokia and its smartphones) that their target market was the wrong gender emphasis. They changed from a more male to female marketing focus and stocked up on ‘prettier’ products such as coloured folders – while at the same ensuring there was more variety in most ranges (remember, women like to ‘weigh up’ the choices).

 

Unilever’s anti-perspirant Axe initially marketed a limited edition fragrance to young men until it discovered around one quarter (500,000) of its social media followers (Facebook and Twitter) were female. There followed a marketing push towards the fairer sex (along with a ‘refined’ product). The following are adverts for the same brand but marketed at different genders.

 

 

The brand’s target market however was still young men – they had simply expanded it to include young women. Axe’s head of strategy Jonathan Bottomley explains: “You can’t be a successful youth brand today if you’re not co-ed in your approach, this is a generation where guys and girls are friends and like to hang out in groups.”

 

 

 

The world-renowned brand regarded as the so-called bastion of male toughness Harley-Davidson did an ‘about turn’ several years ago when they introduced the SuperLow – a lighter bike suitable for women – in an effort to capture the market for females and first-time riders. They also held ‘women only’ in-store safety nights twice a week in 650 Harley dealerships. Today women make up around 12 per cent of sales for the Harley-Davidson company (in the past it totalled two per cent).

 

Harley Super Low 2011

 

The above examples demonstrate that it’s essential for the majority of brands today to include women in their marketing and overall brand strategies. Not only do women make up 50 per cent of the population but, in most cases, they are also the gender with the greatest influence in consumer purchasing decisions.

 

Brands need to ensure they are gender balanced at the very least, and not alienating women, at the expense of men and vice versa.

 

  • Do you know the percentage ratio of male to female consumers for your brand and have those figures altered over time?

  

  • Do you market more towards women or men and if you were to do a ‘gender switch’ what different messages would you use to engage that particular group?

  

  • If you currently only sell to the one sector could your product or service be adapted to appeal to both?

 

 

Brand Expansion: Give Your Customers What They Want!

If we learn nothing else from the fast food and drink industry it is that complacency has no place in the business world, even among global brand leaders. A trend has emerged whereby large fast food and coffee retailers are expanding their brand model into new areas in order to capture new market opportunities and extend their customer offering.

 

Listen To What Your Customers Are Saying

Often, an expansion of an original brand offering is the result of a brand trying to remain relevant to the customer and their ever evolving tastes. 

 

Starbucks, arguably the largest and strongest coffee retail chain in the world recently began rolling out a new concept for the brand: Starbucks Evenings. This expansion of their original strategy sees the coffee giant expand their offering to alcoholic beverages along with small plates of artisanal food.

 

 Starbucks Evenings

 

The concept is a response to customer feedback calling for more options to relax in store in the evenings. Starbucks’s expansion of their food and beverage options aims to create a new occasion for customers to visit their stores. By engaging with the customer, Starbucks captured valuable insight into the changing needs and behavioral trends of their customers and expanded their brand offering accordingly.

 

 

Increasing Loyalty and Increasing Revenue

The success of McCafe demonstrates McDonalds ability to listen to customers and a willingness to make them happy. The brand identified that their customer’s were coffee drinkers but went elsewhere for their coffee purchases, as McDonalds coffee was deemed lesser in quality. McDonalds responded in steps; first by introducing 100% Arabica beans for their coffee to produce a better quality coffee and provide credibility as a quality coffee provider. Then introducing Iced coffee to the menu before launching the McCafe brand expansion.

 

 Mccafe Selection

 

By listening and responding to customer feedback the brand succeeded not only in enhancing the brand experience for their customers, but through the expansion of their brand offering, McDonalds succeeding in capturing a valuable share of the coffee market.

 

 

Expanding Your Brand To Strengthen Its Positioning

Progression is important for any brand and Starbucks Evenings aims to evolve and enhance the brand experience based on what the customer are telling them.

 

 Starbucks Evenings Twitter

 

While this expansion of the brand is being communicated as being a customer-centric strategy, the move serves a dual purpose. Not only are Starbucks aiming to satisfy the evolving needs of their loyal customer base, the expansion of the brand experience leaves them less dependent on the increasingly competitive coffee chain market. If the expansion is successful, the brand will enjoy a stronger position in the minds of their target customers and be less susceptible to the effects of direct competition from other coffee chains.

 

 

Expanding Customer Perceptions

The Starbucks move might look like the brand is deviating from its core business, but the strategy is not unlike that undertaken by McDonalds when they first introduced breakfasts to their menu. The brand identified an untapped market in the breakfast sector and then worked to change customer’s perceptions of the brand as a plausible breakfast provider. Years later, and McDonalds has redefined the market as a profitable route for fast food brands.

 

 

 

McDonalds are a great example of a brand that constantly looks for fresh ways to expand the brand to increase growth and market reach. Without deviating from their core brand values, McDonalds has expanded the brand into unlikely avenues and succeeded in exploiting previously untapped markets in the fast food industry.

   

 Mcdonald 2010 Weekday Breakfast Special

    

The brands latest move McDonalds “Nocturnivore” is a response to changing customer habits and potentially lucrative unexploited dining times. Just as Starbucks is trying to open up a low-traffic daypart with alcohol sales, McDonald’s is testing a “Breakfast After Midnight” menu for the relatively untapped “fourth daypart” — between 2 and 5 a.m. The “Nocturnivore” menu and campaign is promoting late-night dining of not only dinner but also breakfast items. Less than 1 percent of total fast-food traffic comes in during those hours, but 1 percent is still 1 percent.

 

 Mcdonalds Nocturnivore2

 

Sometimes the market share we need can be created rather than earned. Listening to our customers or redefining markets can open up huge possibilities for new revenue channels, new market relevancy or market repositioning.

• What could you do with your present brand offering to expand your current reach beyond the obvious status quo and grow your market share?

 

 

 

Brand Heart: Are You Bringing Your Brand To Life In Your Work Space?

Hearing someone say they work at Google seems to have the same effect on every listener regardless of their industry background…Wow!

 

Google Green Dublin 

 

It’s a true testament to the Google leaders that they have created a reputation of being such a desirable place to work, but lets face it, it’s not just because of the type of work carried out there. With unique, fun, quirky, often bizarre office interiors, which include slides, video games and ski-gondolas, Google lead the way in a trend to change the traditional view of what a corporate office should look and feel like. There is method to the supposed madness.

  

 Google Office Slide

  

Google, Facebook, Airbnb and so many of the newer global companies, along with a few of the longer established, understand that the culture and physical experience of your company is a huge part of your company brand. They understand that it is the people and living experience internally behind the brands that help to dictate how the brand is perceived externally.

 

 Google Ski Lifts

 

An office is far more than walls, desks and computers. It’s a recruitment tool, a second home and a place to inspire those who work within. If a leader’s job is to get the best from their employees then part of that responsibility is creating a space that motivates people to make the most of shaping and growing their brand.

 

 Facebook Office Pan

 

If you care about company culture and authentic brand experience then the office space matters. It is an important part of how the employee views their work. But flashy spaces, open plan offices and bean bags are not for everyone. A place without quite spaces can be just as ineffective as grey cardboard cubicles. There are certain elements however that will provide triggers to employees and customers alike about the company culture that may need to be addressed.

 

 Facebook Office Photo

 

• Collaborative Space

You don’t have to be a creative company to have a need for a collaborative space. If people arrive into the office, go to their desk and stay there until the end of the day then the company is not maximizing the benefits that come from employee interactions between the company thinkers and innovators. A dedicated collaborative space that can be used for informal interactions can make employees more comfortable to contribute, to share opinions and develop new ideas.

 

 Google Hq Zurich

 

• Brand Ambassadors

Employees are your brand ambassadors. Creating an office space that reminds them each day of what they and the brand are trying to achieve can be a powerful motivator.

 

Mindvalley Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 

 

• Reflect Your Core Brand Values

If sustainability is an important ‘value’ underpinning your brand, then this should be communicated using internal triggers as well as external communication. Using and promoting recyclable materials within the office for example ensures that those working to build the brand understand that the company genuinely believes and lives by the values they promote. You are authentically living that brand value and reinforcing it everyday in what you do.

     

Education First Lucerne Switzerland 

      

• Recruit The Best

Google and Facebook offices are designed not only to serve current employees, but to attract the best talent. They use their office space to communicate the type of culture they promote internally and to attract ‘like minded’ people who can fit within that culture and become part of the brand family. Both understand the needs of the people that work for them and have been hugely beneficial to the organisation, as employees reciprocate with high levels or productivity and efficiency.

 

 Vocus Beltsville Maryland

 

• Create Customer Cues

PR and advertising can support a strategy that communicates a brand’s vision and values, but that can be destroyed at the workplace if the office space doesn’t align with the promise of your brand message. If your brand communicates a sense of community or creativity, but your offices are comprised of people working separately behind closed doors what kind of message does this send to your customers? Internal triggers and experiences can make a significant external impact. Even reception rooms and meeting room names can tell a story that reflects the brand. Think about your customer’s brand journey. How would your offices influence the customer’s perspective and experience of your brand?

 

 Airbnb Conference Room Mushroom Cabin In Aptos California

 

Company culture is not something that can be created from blueprints. It is something that is shaped by the people working within. Leaders can influence it, they can coax and enable the desired type of brand culture but even the well intentioned leader can inadvertently establish dysfunctional workplaces by creating a workspace that is at odds with the brand values and messages the employees are working to shape.

 

Google may have developed a reputation of a fun, goofy place to work, but what it really signifies is a deep understanding by its leaders, that the environment can play a significant role in creating the balance needed to promote problem solving and creativity in an industry that demands both.

 

If you can’t glean clues about the brand or the people behind it from walking in the door of the office you could be in trouble. Get your office ‘on brand’, and it could play a valuable part in supporting your innovation, productivity levels, marketing mix and consequently profitability coupled with long term success. 

• What do you think of some of the world’s ‘coolest’ offices?

  

• How does yours compare? Is it ‘on brand’ or congruent with what your brand stands for?

  

• Does your office space encourage collaboration, innovation and creativity?

   

• Does your office space reflect your brand culture?

 

 

Sub-Branding: How Many Brands Do You Need To Get A Profitable Return?

What happens when a successful brand fails to impact within a new market or market segment? When despite best efforts, the brand cannot make itself relevant to a new market? Is introducing a sub-brand the answer?

 

There are instances when sub-brands hold the key to expanding market share and broadening profit opportunities. However, sub-branding also runs the risk of jeopardizing the strength of the parent brand if implemented without due diligence and careful analysis.

 

Air Canada Rouge

 

   

Effective Sub-Branding Strategies

 

1. Entering Markets That Are Closed To The Parent Brand

Air Canada recently launched Rouge, a low-cost sub-brand airline created as a means to serve new market destinations that the existing model could not serve on a competitive basis. Air Canada’s original brand value structure would be compromised if the parent brand cut their prices and changed the quality of their value proposition. Rouge aims to be a proactive manoeuvre by the brand against new low cost carriers operating within Canada.

 

 

 

Disney releases Certified 18 movies under their Touchstone brand as doing so under the Disney name would be incongruent with the Disney brand identity and what it stands for; magic, fun, wholesome family experiences full of happy memories and happy endings!

 

2. Satisfying Segmented Customer Needs

Hoteliers segment their market by brand type and frequently introduce meaningful sub brands to serve new customer needs and enter new markets. By separating the hotels into sub-brands, Hoteliers can highlight the different value bundles offered under each brand. It provides clear distinction for the customers on the level of service to be expected from each sub-brand, providing an obvious choice for the business or luxury customer versus the family on a budget.

 

 Marriott Hotel Brands

 

3. Industry Norms

Sub-brands are part of the culture of some industries. Car manufacturers frequently release cars under sub-brands. This is particularly effective when each sub-brand has a particular focus and value proposition that does not overlap with other sub-brands within the family. Toyota’s Prius has a very definite brand identity and serves a focused target market. It allowed Toyota to create a leading position within the environmentally conscious market segment and made the Toyota brand more relevant with that customer group.

 

 Toyota Prius

 

 

Sub-Branding Risks

Sub-brands have been known to help companies thrive, capturing new market segments and introducing a parent brand to a wider audience. However sub-branding can come at a cost too.

 

1. Reduced Impact of Parent Brand

Establishing and marketing a sub-brand demands a considerable investment of capital and resources. In most cases sub-brands move resources away from the core brand, risking potential sales of the parent brand itself. The success of the Coors Light beer came at the expense of a loss in market share of the parent Coors brand due to the reduced marketing budget available to advertise Coors.

 

 Coors And Coors Light

 

2. Create Competition

Sometimes sub-brands can invite competition within a sector, creating obstacles that previously did not exist. American Express had established itself as the premium brand within the credit card market. Then it decided to introduce sub-brands: the American Express Gold Card and American Express Platinum. Suddenly it opened up the opportunity for competitors to launch their own products aimed at the high-end customer, forcing American Express to fight for its premium position.

 

 American Express Cards

 

3. Over Stretch Marketing Resources

As with any strategy, introducing a sub brand offers both pros and cons. The general consensus is that companies should operate with as few brands as possible to maximize the impact of limited marketing resources.

 

Marketing will appear weak and ineffective if it is spread too thinly. Economies of brand, strategic focus and clear efficient internal operations can often give the parent brand the support it needs rather than employing a sub-brand strategy.

 

While sub-brands can help to upscale or downscale a brand offering, without clear differentiation a sub-brand can cause real confusion with customers as to the value proposition and unique offering of each sub-brand.

 

Remember, if your core brand is failing to make an impact within a market there are other strategies that may serve your corporate goals. Identifying the possibilities at hand such as expanding core values, evolving the brand structure or reinterpreting existing brand values could have the desired effect and impact with your target customers. 

 

Before you explore developing sub-brands ask yourself this: how many brands do you need to get the job done?