San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
With the current state of the economy, it’s a natural time to reflect upon and evaluate a company’s marketing efforts. But rather than rein in any branding efforts, it’s more important than ever to uphold the reputation of the brand. A consistent level of communication must be maintained even during difficult times, or a brand could be easily forgotten by its consumers. Much like a plane that must continue to move at a certain rate of speed to remain aloft, a brand must carry momentum to remain relevant in the minds of the consumer.
As the economy tightens, consumers are looking for strong brands and the confidence that a company will be around for the long haul. Those companies who continue to communicate to their consumers during difficult times will remain top of mind once those difficult times are over. You want your consumers to have a consistently positive association with your brand before they even have a need for your product.
To enable a strong sense of brand, companies who have core competencies in manufacturing and technology will prevail over those who do not. The company that invests in quality and reliability, combined with an industry-leading customer experience will likely endure. Additionally, those with in-house resources and the ability to have production take place from top to bottom through a vertically integrated model, will help companies maintain a more stable business model. And the key to capitalizing on this is to educate consumers on your unique capabilities through branding efforts.
Furthermore, it’s important to modify what you say and how you say it based on the current financial climate. When times are tough, consumers are looking for brands that they can trust who offer quality products at reasonable prices. The “value” that a consumer realizes from your products becomes more important then ever. This is the time to highlight things such as convenience and customer service so that the customer truly understands the value they would receive with your product.
In these times it’s important to our retail partners that we use our branding as a means to drive traffic into their stores. The key phase that we use at Sharp when speaking about our Major League Baseball relationship is retail activation. By developing promotions that drive sales, we are helping our retail partners increase sell-through during difficult times by engaging with our consumers through a popular and familiar pastime — baseball — and relating to them on a level they appreciate.
Not only does the changing economic climate affect consumer purchasing decisions, but today’s consumers are relying more and more on electronic media to do their research prior to purchase. A brand’s image becomes even more important, as it may be the only point of differentiation that differentiates two products on a computer screen. We must continue to enhance and strengthen our brands now, so that we remain relevant in the years to come.