Friday, October 30, 2009

Brand repositioning - Case

On this site I regularly want to share some of the good case studies that I've come across over the years. A very good repositioning case is the amazing story of Skoda. Since Skoda became part of VW group in 2001 it has made an amazing brand journey. Prior to this some of the old Skoda jokes were...
Why does a Skoda have a heated rear windscreen?
- To keep your hands warm while you push it
How do you double the value of a Skoda?
- Fill it with petrol
This was the general view of Skoda in the 90's. In 1991 Volkswagen took a first 30% stake in Skoda and VW started to train and educate the Skoda workforce. And in 2001 VW took total control of the Skoda business. The first Skoda to be built on the Volkswagen platform was Octavia launched in 1998. Octavia was launched in the UK with Skoda’s highest promotional budget ever (approx. £10 million). But the launch was a massive failure. Only 6,154 cars were sold over the year after launch despite very good reviews in leading car magazines. It was at that stage that the people in charge realised just how seriously negative perceptions people had of Skoda as a car brand. Research also suggested that over 60% of Brits promised that they would never buy a Skoda due to its unfashionable, poor quality image. An image that was no longer in sync with the very good cars that Skoda now offered to the public.

VW understood that they needed to close the gap between Skoda's poor image and the reality i.e. the good value, high quality cars that Skoda now offered. The new model Skoda Fabia was going to be the platform for the Skoda repositioning. The ad agency brief was something like: “Relaunch the Skoda brand and do it by using the launch of the new supermini, the Fabia”. The agency delivered a SIMPLE and BRAVE solution…
The Skoda brand repositioning was supported by a number of ads. See e.g. this commercial from 2002.

The overall objective with the campaign was to turn the Skoda brand from cheap and nasty to value for money and cheerful. And the idea was to create a message that made gentle fun at Skoda’s poor customer perception.
Theme: “The Fabia is so good that you won’t believe it’s a Skoda”
The campaign ran in both print and TV supported by three different television ads showed situations where people failed to realize that the car in question is a Skoda.
The poster ads featured lines such as “It’s a Skoda, honest!” and “No, really”.

The campaign was also supported by a major PR push aimed at consumer press with the attempts to influence journalists to discuss Skoda in a positive light.
So, what were the campaign results one wonders? Well, Skoda sales grew by 34% in the year of the campaign. By the end of 2000 more than 11,000 Fabia had been sold in the UK and even Octavia saw an increase in sales of 29%. Moreover, customer perceptions of Skoda improved dramatically! Instead of seeing the “old” Skoda they now saw a cut-price, high quality VW. And the agency was of course very pleased when the three commercials for the Skoda Fabia picked up bronze, silver and gold places at the annual British Television Advertising Awards in London.

Create your own watch! Great idea based on need for customised goods!

Yesterday my husband told me about this fantastic idea developed by a Swedish company and brand called Few. Few has developed a 'design your own' wristwatch concept that seems really interesting. It's a simple concept (see their website)and very clever. On the Few site you can design your own watch and choose from different appealing features to make it your own, very unique piece. And the surprising thing is that it is all fairly affordable too. In a few minutes I designed my own watch due to cost only £262. That is a great price given the fact that Few appears to offer not only a customised product but a high quality product too.
I am intrigued and... very tempted to splash out on another wristwatch. However, there's one more thing that I would love to see from Few before I customise and buy my own watch. At this stage Few appears to concentrate on primarily men as their target group. This is fine but I would sure love to see a more feminine version of the Few offer! When that is in place I might just need to design my own Few wristwatch very soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nestlé will use only sustainable palm oil

The Grocer reports that Nestlé has promised to use only sustainable palm oil from 2015. Nestlé includes palm oil as an ingredient in many of its confectionery and dairy products - in fact, the baby porridge that I feed my baby with every day has palm oil as one of its ingredients. Not something that I am very proud of... But you cannot find a single baby porridge without palm oil on the retail shelves! So what should a poor mother do? Well, at least Nestlé promises to use only certified-sustainable palm oil from 2015.

I am pleased to hear those news. But to make a difference to the environment in the long term more companies need to do much more to reduce the amount of palm oil they use or at least ensure that they buy their palm oil from sustainable sources. And consumers need to wake up to frequent use of palm oil in everyday products. In Sweden this is not yet a debate - but hopefully it will be a debate soon and hopefully this debate should ensure that companies buy only sustainable palm oil from that point forward.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brand or line extension?

If you own a valuable brand with both strength and stature it's of course a very tempting move to plan to utilise that brand more. Stretching the brand into new territory is a very tempting move and can be a smart move too if it's done in the right way. But it may also seriously damage your brand if it's done in the wrong way. There are two kind of stretch opportunities:
1. Line extension
When you innovate within the categories which the brand is already strongly associated too and where it has its current space in the consumer mind
2. Brand extension
When you try to extend the brand into new territory i.e. markets or categories where the brand lacks credentials and consumer associations.

Line extensions are the easy and most common option and it's a great and fairly easy option for less developed categories. But in more mature and well-developed categories line extensions won't be likely to generate the sales you're after. So, in those cases you need to carefully consider extending the brand into whole new territory. This carries both major risks and massive rewards - it's all down to how it is done. Consider how e.g. Levis fell from glory in the mid 90's by extending their brand too far... There are many other cases of poor and even catastrophic brand extensions and many cases of good ones too - I will certainly get back to this topic.

Lastly, since talking about brand extensions I spotted an interesting one in the UK. It's Innocent Drinks that have extended their so much loved smoothie and juices brand to healthy ready-meals. What do you think? Good or not good?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lovely campaign Delicato

The Swedish bakery brand Delicato is running another of their tongue in cheek poster campaigns at the moment in a wave to add new energy to the brand. They stick to the same creative idea that was so successful for them in 2007 when they won the Swedish advertising of the year award. The idea (developed by Ogilvy) is focussed on playing up the strengths of what Delicato offers in a way that is both humourous and slightly cheeky. And the creative and copy is great with messages such as 'Remember to eat according to the food pyramid' or 'Guaranteed to be free of wholemeal' and 'Have you tried the cake method'. It's a great way of defending the strengths of the brand at a time when sugary desserts are facing a lot of criticism. Of course people still need to treat themselves, and the time of recession might well be the perfect time for a 'real treat' brand. In terms of advertising I think Delicato is doing a brilliant job. And in terms of adding new energy to the brand I think they can and should do even more. Delicato would benefit from strategic innovation to appeal to new markets and targets groups, creative concept development and modernised, more relevant packaging. So - if things move on in this direction I'm sure Delicato will be a very fun brand to follow!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Measuring Advertising Effect

Advertising is a costly business and it’s likely to be one of the first areas to get cut during hard times. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right one to cut... But as long as marketing professionals don’t measure advertising effect in a way that can be understood and accepted it sure is a very easy one to cut for senior management. Why spend money on something that cannot be seriously argued to have a profound effect on business performance?

So, what should you do if you believe in advertising and the idea that it can actually help rather than hinder your company during hard times?
Well, I would encourage the following steps:
1.Set up a very well thought through quantitative measuring system with simple and effective advertising benchmarks
2.Communicate the system internally, so that the people in charge of budgets understand and accept it
3.Get internal buy in for your system
4.Communicate the system to your agencies – ensure that your agencies understand the benchmarks that their creative ideas and execution will be measured against
5.Start using the system for all the campaigns that you’ve got planned

What you get in the end is a tool to track campaign performance. And by learning from each campaign the effect of your advertising will improve over time. The challenge is that you know have a system of also measuring the marketing team. Whilst this is very good for the company the marketing tem and marketing director might find it slightly threatening. After all, if confidence is lacking you may be better off claiming that all the amazing things you do cannot be measured.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marabou - getting ahead in the innovation game

The Kraft owned chocolate brand Marabou is really moving ahead in the innovation game. The latest addition to the brand family is a limited edition winter version called Marabou Vinter. Marabou Vinter is a simple style block of milk chocolate flavoured with traditional winter spices like cardamom, clove, cinnamon and vanilla. I tried it today and... it is really, really good. Definitely a new favourite for a chocoholic like me.
Back to Marabou and what they are doing in terms of innovation. From my perspective I think they've really improved their creativity when it comes to innovative ways of stretching their brand. The launch of the Marabou Premium sub-brand was a first step into new territory and the new Marabou Sensation concept is a nice and natural way of extending Marabou to meet consumer needs revolving around luxurious pleasure and naughty treat without moving too much into the premium area. And the Marabou Vinter product is a wonderful way of capitalising on consumer mood and needs during this time of the year. I look forward to the next Marabou launch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Tesco concept

So, back from a long weekend in London and of course I had to do some London product spotting whilst I was over there. One new concept that I like a lot is Tesco Ingredients - a premium ingredient concept that entail spices, vinegars, oils and more. The nice thing about this concept is that Tesco seems to have understood one very important thing about a large proportion of food interested consumers. Those consumers do like to show off their ingredients and the ingredients are often on show in the kitchen whilst cooking for guests. So, of course those consumers want to show off nice looking ingredients. And I love the Tesco Ingredients design. I find it sparse, clean and stylish. And you can also just imagine the flavours of the products without being too obvious about flavours and spices.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And the winner is...

So, Nielsen has announced the winner of 'Food Product of the Year 2009' and the winner is.... Procordia with Ekström Fruit Crumble!!!!
The motivation is: "Of all the new FMCG products that were launched last year Ekströms Fruit Crumble was the most successful. It is not only convenient but it also gives the consumer a sense that it's wholesomeness and honest food product. The product has fast established itself in the frozen fixture and it has created further growth to the category as a whole.
As I've said before - great work Procordia!!! You've got your consumer insights sorted with that one and I'm certainly a keen user.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fresh and fast Mexican fast food...

Soon I will visit London again and I do look forward to all things about London right now. The smells, the sounds, the food and the large supermarkets that contain all that marvellous international foodstuffs...
During my last visit I noted that there were quite a few new 'fresh style' Mexican fast food places around but unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to try any of them. With 'fresh style' I mean healthy, balanced and yet good fast food and not the old style greasy taco places of the 90's. I actually read about the success of a fresh fast food restaurant called Baja Fresh on the West Coast in the US some years ago. And the London development seem to follow the Californian development - only a few years later. So, I certainly look forward to checking out those places in London in a bit more detail this time. And I'll certainly try to spot some other new developments too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Successful NPD

It's not uncommon to still see newly launched products that simply lack the stature to survive even a year... Why is that? How come so many companies still embark on costly NPD programmes when all that results is a very weak product launch or 'me-too' competitor copy. Well, I'm certainly aware that many companies think that it's enough to ensure that they can offer a higher margin to the retailers to ensure commercial success. Well, be sure that the consumers will tell you otherwise... Just wait. The truth is of course that retailers are very powerful indeed. However, be aware that their power lasts only until your products are put on their shelves. Be sure that if consumers or shoppers don't like your product then, the retailers won't either. And that is no matter how high margins and how many rapid starts you offer them. The smart retailers want to see you not only offering them their margins but also a commercially powerful product that will survive over time. So, embark on your innovation process with consumers in mind. If you can WOW consumers, you can WOW retailers too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Knorr Fond du Chef - smart product from Knorr

I spotted new Knorr Fond du Chef the other day. And find it a good, practical and also very predictable new product from Knorr in these days of e-number fears and premiumisation. Fond du Chef is a more premium style stock product from Knorr which contains all natural ingredients with no MSG. As far as I know all the traditional Knorr stock cubes contain MSG - not the most appealing ingredient these days. And as far as I know their competitor Bong has no MSG in their products... So what do health concerned consumers do? Well, I am pretty sure that they go for Bong instead of Knorr...
But with Fond du Chef Knorr has the answer for those health concerned foodies. And personally I find Fond du Chef a pretty appealing product. I think that it's the right 'slightly premium... but not too much premium' move for the Knorr brand and the product itself is both convenient and useful. The 'portion' sized stock idea is interesting and it certainly builds on what Knorr stock is all about. However, today users of premium stock and Bong are used to having to measure up their stock so it will certainly be interesting to see if Knorr manages to get both current Knorr and competitor users to understand a new behaviour.

Other bloggers have also written about this product:
Mat med Mårre: Buljongen får vara chef

Lindex latest - for me it's a case of weak brand positioning

Over the past few weeks there's been quite a few commercials from the large clothe retail companies in Sweden. I always find it interesting watching and comparing those commercials since inevitably, I start to think about their underlying brand positionings. It's those market or brand positionings and their unique differentiators that they should try to execute... So why is it so hard to understand what on earth those companies are up to and what makes them different? Take Lindex, Kappahl and Cubus for example. To me it looks like they are going for exactly the same target group, with the same offer, and with the same promise... Have they got their targets sorted yet? I doubt it.