One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders to craft these clarifying fit charts. These are simple, defining visual road maps or infographics that help identify the brand's differentiators with a few key words or phrases. This works for product lines as well. Once these fit charts are done, they provide the guardrails for all sorts of brand and product creativity. Let's look at where this lead for one omnichannel retailer:
Brands these days want their customers to know that there are real aficionados behind their product doors, dreaming, creating and delivering unique and carefully curated goods they hope will be spot on for their customers. Brands tout this as "By and For," as in created "by teachers for teachers," "by chefs for chefs" or "designed by fashionistas for fashionistas." These merchants and brand builders are full-time users of the products they bring to market. A brand's By and For strategy cannot be faked.
What holiday best represents your brand? How might the successes from that season be a springboard for others? What whimsical ways can you surprise and delight your customers through seasonal product promotions? What's waiting to be "just born" in your product offering?
"There's more to life than furniture" declares a bold headline in a recent Ikea catalog. Perhaps a somewhat surprising statement from the world's leading home furnishings company. But if you know Ikea, then you know that it positions itself as "life improvers."
With the beginning of a new year comes all sorts of prompts from brands, infomercials and various social media toward new behaviors — e.g., weight loss, exercise, decluttering, eating healthy, simplifying your financial record keeping, etc. It's also a good time to ask yourself just how exactly your company helps its customers achieve their goals. Is your brand inspirational and motivational enough to turn your customers into doers? Let's look how one brand masters the art of motivation:
As the year comes to a close, take a moment and take stock of how often your products or services delighted your customers these past 12 months. Delight is a verb worth striving for. Here's how one brand lives it out year-round:
’Tis the season! Starbucks has brought seasonal coffee bliss back to its customers with its beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte (known as PSL by its fans). In just 10 years, Starbucks has created a fall tradition that translated into more than 200 million of these beverages being sold since it launched. Here's another product success story — perhaps a bit quieter, but one that also focuses on the branding and merchandising potential of one powerful verb: SAVOR.
What's intimidating about the use of your product or service? How might you create a class about your product? What would your customers be interested in learning and how can you position your product as part of that process? How are you inspiring new customers to try your product?
Can you up the ante on any of your products’ amusement factors? Is there some ho-hum aspect of your product that could benefit from a bit of unexpected playfulness? Why not ThinkAbout that today and see where it leads you?
I recently returned from an enlightening branding walkabout in Australia for one of my clients. In this deep cultural immersion, I visited eight cities all across the country in eight weeks and met with over 60 of their brand stakeholders. We talked openly about the challenges facing this company’s existing product line, its present pricing structure, its future competitive arena and how it could adapt to the particulars of this niche Australian marketplace to be more customer centric.
Perhaps you read earlier this month that Procter & Gamble sold most of its Zest soap business to a private equity company. After 60 years it was determined that this product line was no longer a strategic fit. Despite its various product extensions over the years (Aqua, Ocean Breeze, Marathon) and its combination tactics (Hair + Body), and the unique addition of ingredients (Hint of Honey), Zest no longer met Proctor & Gamble’s “secret sauce” criteria. No doubt this was a tough decision. I applaud the company for deciding to ultimately support their long-term brand purpose.
Was one of your new year's resolutions to be more organized? To finally clear out the clutter in your office, closets, garage ... life? To have your home look like one of those Pottery Barn catalog spreads? You're not alone!
Investing in customer-centric proprietary product development fends off consumer ennui and extends the brand experience in all the right ways.
Certainly one of the many jobs that keep merchants on their toes is just that — continually upping the ante on the wow factor of their products. And that's no small task in the challenging arena of competitive product knockoffs, miniscule product improvements and category saturation.
In today's selling environment, where consumers are smarter and savvier than ever (and have access to thousands of other customers’ experiences via product reviews, Facebook and Twitter), merchants must be sure that all key products in their merchandise offering truly substantiate their brand's unique reason for being.