Posted by Kwamina Korsah on December 15, 2011 No comments
The Abercrombie & Fitch Company owns several iconic brands that my colleagues here at The Value Engineers have discussed in the past – both on the good and bad aspects of their in store customer experience
However, a recent conversation with a friend got me thinking about just how interesting their corporate brand architecture is, and how it sets a good example for organisation of organising brand assets and making the most effective use of the market space.
As a former employee of both Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister, I was fully indoctrinated into the key messages behind each of the key brands (with the portfolio also including Gilly Hicks underwear and Abercrombie kids), and more importantly for the company, the very specific target audiences. The flagship brands A&F and Hollister are targeted at university-aged students (or ‘college kids’) and secondary school pupils (‘high school kids’) respectively. The style of the clothing, key messaging and in-store experience successfully pander to these defined audiences. For example, A&F talks about clothes as ‘casual luxury’ – a tagline clearly very appealing to young adults aiming to look attractive, yet sophisticated – on the other hand, Hollister label their boys and girls departments as ‘Dudes’ and ‘Bettys’ – a more playful, childish theme.
It is nothing new to have a portfolio of brands whose architecture is defined by target audience, and this is just another great example of a company’s single-mindedness resulting in the halo effect and cross age appeal of all of the brands. In other words, you don’t only get 14-18 year olds buying Hollister and 18-21 years A&F. Pre-teens desperate to grow up quickly are demanding to wear Hollister, while older adults aim to cling onto their youth through A&F’s stylish and trendy attire.
So when my 12 year old cousin asked for a Hollister shirt for Christmas, my first reaction was not ‘you’re not the right age!’ but rather an begrudging ‘yes’ (they don’t make their clothes cheap!) and an appreciation of how the Abercrombie & Fitch company, whether you love or hate them, continues to manage brands that act as true beacons for fashion among young adults and kids in the UK.
Posted by Kwamina Korsah on September 7, 2011 No comments
There is no doubt that some of the world’s best known and most valuable brands have taken much of their inspiration from their biggest competitors. The growing profile of south-east Asian companies has brought this into focus – they avoid creating and developing original brands for fear of being ripped-off, such is the lack of IP protection in countries such as China. In these emerging economies, there is also greater consumer loyalty to established and familiar global brands. This is because of the relative lack of shopping experience of the south-east Asian consumer, meaning they are less familiar with ‘own-label’ or ‘retailer’ offerings.
This is in stark contrast to consumers in the UK or other ‘western’ countries. The power of retailers combined with the experienced consumer means own label is the norm, with many becoming ‘brands’ in their own right. ‘Finest’ from Tesco or ‘No7’ from Boots are great examples of this.
Consequently, despite having less income, consumers in emerging markets are actually more brand loyal. Companies such as Li Ning, the biggest Chinese sportswear company, appear to have taken inspiration from two of their more established competitors, Nike and Adidas. Their logo is strikingly similar to Nike, while their slogan ‘Nothing is impossible!’ is effectively the same as Adidas’ ‘Impossible is Nothing’.
This underlines the difficult situation of brands from emerging economies in the face of their dominant rivals. While Li Ning have been successful to date, it will be interesting to see if we continue to see home-grown brands seemingly imitate their more established rivals or risk originality as the far eastern economies grow.
During a recent shopping trip I noticed a new product in the ice cream aisle: Magnum Ghana Cocoa. Given my Ghanaian heritage, the reference to the provenance of this new product was really striking for me, and is a great demonstration of how brands – even those established and much-loved in their category – can use NPD to add a unique selling point to differentiate from competitors.
The milk chocolate and hazelnut flavoured Ghana Cocoa, along with the dark chocolate Ecuador version have other winning elements. They provide an opportunity to communicate a level of expertise – Ghana and Ecuador are two of the biggest producers of the world’s cocoa at 17% and 4% respectively (according to 2009/10 figures from the International Cocoa Organisation) – and also enhances Magnum’s (and in turn, Unilever’s) CSR profile, given the new product is being launched with the Rainforest Alliance certification.
There will no doubt be an expected consolidation of loyalty from core users. However, an added benefit for Magnum is the potential to attract new users (such as all of my Ghanaian family!) for whom the desire for a taste of ‘home’ is particularly appealing, as well as those for whom the origins of a product are a source of intrigue, and ultimately, desire.
A clever demonstration of simple and effective NPD from Magnum here, with the potential to re-confirm the brand as one of the market leaders in the chocolate ice-cream category as we approach summer 2011.
Posted by Kwamina Korsah on January 20, 2011 No comments
While watching the Guardian online video unveiling the new version of their iPhone app, I was struck by how impressive it seemed (or maybe I’m a sucker for multimedia advertising!), and also how much the run-down of the great news features of the app also helped sell some of the wonderful capabilities of the iPhone 4.
Such an advanced app would probably not be able to run as well on many other smartphone devices. As a consequence, this inadvertently shouts about how great Apple’s latest phone is. While it seems unlikely that Apple themselves had any involvement in the making of this Guardian video, maybe this is a sign of a potential marketing strategy that could be deployed by technology brands in particular – partner with other brands or seek platforms through which your brand credentials could be further endorsed. Had I not already been an iPhone user, my desire to get one would certainly have been boosted by this demonstration. It is also not too dissimilar to Apple’s official advertising, which clearly says something about how Apple, or their increasingly popular competitors could seek to gain an advantage through partnering with other brands.
Posted by Kwamina Korsah on November 14, 2010 No comments
“[We want] to provide a profitable service for people that would allow them to just drive and not constantly be checking over their shoulder for a cop, or slamming on their brakes every time they see a car on the shoulder of the road, or a traffic light that looks like it might turn red soon”.
The remarks above come from Kyle Tower, one of the leading team from Ticketfree, the controversial Canadian company who have taken a remarkable new approach to car insurance. In effect, they offer protection against driving misdeeds not ordinarily covered by typical car insurance policies. This includes the likes of ‘speeding violations’ and ‘illegal u-turns’, all for an annual fee of $169.
What, as marketers, can we take out of the way this company is positioned and branded? Firstly, and most critically, it typifies the global consumer trend of an increasingly preventative approach to spending in the wake of the recession. While an extreme case, it is not surprising that a start-up such as this has seen and acted upon a perceived consumer need in the insurance industry, preying on the fact that consumers today are prioritising controlled spending and longer-term investment. This ‘one-bitten, twice-shy’ mentality has generated appeal for a core benefit which other new brands might want to communicate to consumers: spend now and be sure of long-term stability.
Another interesting aspect of Ticketfree is the carefree, verging on positive attitude they have taken towards potentially serious motoring crimes. This goes as far as customers being able to purchase gift packages for friends and family, which is surely an endorsement of irresponsibility.
As economist Ian Ayres has highlighted in his recent blog for the New York Times, the company have exposed themselves to several moral hazards. While Kyle Tower responded fairly emphaticallyto the challenge from Ayres, it does, once again, raise the perennial marketing problem of launching a potentially great business idea with blinkered vision. Not only are there legal and moral issues to contend with, but will consumers really invest in the Ticketfree offer?