It is commonly understood that products have a life cycle. They are introduced to the marketplace; hopefully they catch on with target consumers and sales volumes grow; eventually growth slows and the product becomes mature in the market; finally, the product, through changing consumer tastes or through new technologies, goes into decline.
Where marketers are working with mature or declining products, their focus tends to be on maintaining the position of the mature product in the market or in slowing the products decline.
It is also recognised that brands have a lifespan. For example, who in the UK drives a Datsun car? Who watches a Thorn television? Who shops at Safeway?
Of course, brands are rarely linked to a single product offering. So a brand’s life cycle tends to be longer than a product life cycle.
Brand revitalisation is the process of gaining sales volume for the brand by expanding its market. Six distinct opportunities exist to revitalise a brand:
- You enter a new market with the brand. This can be geographic (Irn Bru is now sold in Russia) or it can be selling a brand previously associated with a business to business market to consumers. For example, four by four vehicles were seen as suitable for farmers and the military; now they are used by mothers on the school run.
- You can enter new market segments. For example, Johnson and Johnson changed the marketing of their baby shampoo to target adult users. Listerine started life as a floor cleaning detergent: It is now sold as a mouthwash.
- You can increase the frequency of use. Kellogg’s has just started to re-run a campaign advising that their cereals are not just for breakfast and they can be eaten as a snack at any time of the day.
- You can create incentives for purchase. This could mean offers where collecting tokens gets you free gifts such as cheap airline flights. Airlines run frequent flyer programmes where ‘club’ members get the use of exclusive departure lounges and priority booking. Coffee shops stamp loyalty cards and when the card is filled, the customer gets a free cup.
- You can increase the quantity used. Fast food outlets make their standard sizes bigger (with a price rise). Consumers get used to the higher price and to the larger standards size. Chocolate biscuits are sold in packs of seven. This means, that a family with 2.4 children will buy two packs not one. Weetabix advertise on the slogan ‘Can you eat three’ to promote the idea of bigger serving sizes. You can also remove barriers to consumption through product reformulation e.g. sugar free soft drinks, low-calorie chocolate, etc. Many breakfast cereals despite high sugar contents are advertised on the fact they are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Such health claims became an issue and now the EU strictly regulates their use.
- You can move a brand into a new category e.g. Mars bars as an ice cream or as the flavouring in a milk drink.
Brand repositioning is a strategy to increase or improve your competitive position in the market place. In doing so, you aim to increase sales volumes and your market share. Often this means seizing market share from your rivals. Repositioning is achieved via changing aspects of your products or by changing the target market for a brand.
This leads to four strategic opportunities:
- Image Repositioning – Product attributes are unchanged and the product is aimed at the existing group of target consumers. This is the process of changing a product’s image amongst target consumers. For example, Adidas was seen as a ‘dull’ brand. The Adidas brand was repositioned to develop ‘street credibility’ amongst sports shoe wearers. Tango was a minor player in the UK soft drink market but by creating its ‘You’ve been Tangoed’ anarchic image, it is now a major player in the market aimed at 18 to 24 year olds.
- Market Repositioning – In this strategy, you change the target market whilst keeping the product the same or similar. For example, Lucozade was sold as a drink for invalids, particularly children (in my native Scotland, it’s a hangover cure!). The brand was repositioned as an isotonic sports drink.
- Product Repositioning – In this strategy you reformulate the product to adapt to changing customer tastes. So the target market remains the same but the product changes. Castlemaine XXXX beer upped its alcohol content from 3.7% to 3.9% (4% for pub sales) to match changing tastes among lager drinkers.
- Total Repositioning – This is where the brand’s target segment changes and the brands products change. Skoda went through a total repositioning following the brand’s purchase by Volkswagen. The quality of the company’s cars was vastly improved to attract more affluent consumers.
Marketing is about creating sustainable competitive advantages which are profitable. Brand Revitalisation and Brand Repositioning are critical strategies to ensure that sustainability.