Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today's Tangential Reading & Rant - Importance of Brand Personality

This article was the spark that lit the fire under my tukhus today .....

03-22-2011 from Home Business World

Cost Plus World Market is using its Facebook page to better promote its Family & Friends event.
The Friends & Family event takes place in stores and online from March 25–27, offering customers 25% off home furnishings, d├ęcor and gifts. It also provides 10% off gourmet food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The discount is based on a coupon consumers can print out after entering the Friends & Family sweepstakes. The winning consumer among those signing up for the sweepstakes gets a $5,000 award with another $5,000 award going to a person that the winner identifies. In addition, the sweepstakes offers $100 daily pay offs.
Consumers have a second route to a coupon. They can go to the Cost Plus Facebook page, click on sweepstakes and simply friend the company. They then can print out their discount coupons.
Both the website and Facebook page have conspicuous graphics advertising the Friends & Family event, which supports the retailer’s spring furnishings and food initiatives.

My first impression/thoughts:

While I think it's great that Cost Plus is using FB for 'promotions' they need to use it for more. They need to do more:
    Product Details
  • Product - Louis Vuitton has 2,000,000 friends on Facebook! And it is due in no small part to the personality of LV. If you read their wall posts, they sound like a close friend giving you inside info to a great party, asking your opinion about what you like, and sharing the latest gossip with you. What they are not doing is just posting press releases and discount prices!
  • Place- LV  use advanced analytics from their FB followers to determine demographic info including regions for different products, price points, styles, and growth. It isn't by accident that LV is expanding quantumly in China. Nor did it come to me as a surprise when CNBC reported that "according to statistics from stock market analysis company, Seeking Alpha, 94% of Tokyo women in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton product...." (Source Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques" by Uche Okonkwo. 

My tangential rant: (the rant follows the initial thoughts...it's when my brain won't let go of the topic and i need to just purge my system like a good colonic does one's colon.)

Businesses today need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. I was listening to Bloomberg Radio yesterday and they were discussing the AT&T purchase of T-Mobile on Sunday (March 21st). One insightful spoken analyst (i'm looking for the audio to post here) argued that AT&T now needed to focus on differentiating it's business from Verizon. Right now they are going head to head with pricing which is a no win for the bottom line. They are also boasting about which products they have, and how great they are, but neither actually makes the products, like the iPhone. They are offering the same technology. They have different coverage (we all know AT&T sucks) but that is apparently a major reason behind the T-Mobile purchase.
In Marketing 101, we are taught that a business should look at the 4 Ps when considering a strategic product development and marketing plan:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement (ie: distribution)
  • Promotion
I believe that the 21st Century consumer requires more than those 4 Ps. As you can see from the AT&T vs. Verizon example, right now they are running a neck and neck business strategy, which results in short term differentiation, but the barriers to the competition (which is a Duopoly now) are low.

AT&T vs Verizon and the 4 Ps

  • Promotion - not so cleverly T-Mobile (among many, many other consumer products) has knocked off the ad campaign made famous by Apple, right down to the dorky person representing their competition, they just added a good looking woman (smart move by the way) to represent their brand. AT&T's advertising campaign has been similarly lack luster. 
  • Product - In the case of As noted above, now that Verizon has the coveted iPhone, AT&T and Verizon are on the same footing for hardware / product. The other Product the two 'carriers' sell is bandwidth. There, AT&T is the big loser. But rather than improve their network, they rested on the laurels of having customers locked into their service if they want to use the iPhone, but quickly it became clear that as soon as their competition (Verizon) got the iPhone, AT&T customers jumped ship faster than rats on a sinking boat. Why? I'll come back to that in a minute.
  • Price - as previously noted is their current differentiation point, but like Airlines, that is a no win, except for the consumer. 
  • Placement - well they have their own stores, and sell through other venues including club stores (eg: Costco) but again, they are on the sample placement.
My addition to this list of Ps is:
A brand, and that's what AT&T, Verizon, and all other businesses are really selling, is all about it's Personality. Some people call it the DNA of the Brand, others call it Corporate Culture. In the end, it's the Personality. If the brand was a person at a cocktail party, would you want to hang out with them, chat, or would you flee to the hors'd oeuvres table? Would that brand be one of your close friends, with whom you can discuss politics and religion, even if you disagree? Or would it turn into a re-enactment of a British House of Commons Parliamentary Debate? Consumers want a brand that is easy to get along with and helpful (customer service), dresses nicely, speaks well, and has a good reputation. 

Uggg... no more rant time.... you can read more about Brand Personality here:

Related reading:

PS - rant 
Attention Verizon Marketing/Advertising Department: you have such an easy opportunity here! Criminy! You could just follow me through a day where I drop calls so often Isaac Newton would be adding an addendum to his Law of Gravity. It would state that rate of dropping an AT&T call is directly proportional to its importance, multiplied by the number of the people on the call. For example if you are on a very important conference call, that call will be dropped faster than a democratic Senator can leave Wisconsin. Think of all the different scenarios, the famous 2008 Campaign 3am telephone call - imagine if that was dropped! Any-who... rant over (for now)

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