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9 Strategies For Manipulating Brand Benefits


9 Strategies For Manipulating Brand Benefits

Knowing how customers make buying decisions (and how they judge the relative value of one brand over another) is important because it provides insights into the different value-enhancement strategies marketers can use to enhance the brand’s value and strengthen brand admiration.

  • First, a company can manipulate brand benefits by improving on or adding to one or more important benefits that enable, entice, or enrich customers. Alternatively, a company could delete a benefit that customers don’t regard as important and is irrelevant to what makes the brand strong.
  • Second, the company can change the importance weight of one or more benefits. It can increase the importance weight of a benefit on which the brand is strong and/or reduce the importance weight of benefits on which other brands are better.
  • Third, the company can create a referent or change an existing referent so that the brand compares favorably to the referent. The referent could be a brand in the same product category one in a different category, the company’s current brand, or not buying at all.

In all, companies have 15 potential value-enhancement strategies from which they can choose to strengthen brand admiration; specifically, five strategic options applied to the three types of benefits (enablement, enticement, and enrichment). These value-enhancement strategies require a company to implement a set of marketing actions as discussed below.

Today I will share nine strategies that manipulate brand benefits; specifically, improving on, adding to, or deleting brand benefits.

1. Improving Benefits That Enable Customers: In 2001, Hyundai initiated new quality improvements in manufacturing, and it made design and engineering improvements to its models. It also gave customers a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The warranty far exceeded the industry’s standard 3-year warranty, and it nearly guaranteed that customers would not be responsible for high-priced repair for their cars’ expected working life. These improved benefits transformed Hyundai’s reputation for quality.

Amazon improved its Prime membership. Beyond offering free shipping, Prime members can stream music and videos. Moreover, on Prime Day members can take advantage of exclusive sales and promotional prices throughout the site. With these benefits, Amazon Prime membership now covers about 25 percent of American households and it is expected to cover 50 percent by 2020.

2. Improving Benefits That Entice Customers: The Cleveland Clinic offered improved enticement benefits. Antiseptic aromas were replaced with scents akin to the signature fragrances favored by four-star hotel chains. Hospital gowns were designed by Diane von Furstenberg to combine ease of access to patients’ bodies while maintaining their dignity. Staff members were asked to adopt the 10-4 rule: “ when 10 feet away from a patient, smile and make eye contact; when 4 feet away, address the patient by name.” Hospitals can be terrifying environments. So empathy, friendliness, and pleasant, dignity-preserving experiences go a long way toward patient well-being and comfort.

Zappos realized that the lifetime value of a customer who calls (for any reason) is five to six times as much as the value of a customer who never calls. So Zappos improved customers’ opportunities to connect with the company, offering friendly service and warming their hearts. Zappos lists its phone number on every page of its website and encourages customers to call if they have questions or concerns. Allowing customers to contact Zappos easily enables customers, but warming their hearts through friendly and pleasant service entices customers. In contrast, often customers can’t find a customer service phone number for many e-commerce sites unless they Google it.

3. Improving Benefits That Enrich Customers: In a world dominated by mass-marketed goods sold at chain stores, some consumers want authentic products whose heritage involves a commitment to quality and time-honored principles. CAPiTA Snowboards improved on its ability to enrich customers by emphasizing the brand’s authenticity. Improved web content tells about the brand’s heritage and humble origins as one of snowboarding’s “ weirdo companies” highlighting the founding members’ commitment to overcome “ sleepless nights” and “ flirtations with bankruptcy” to realize their dream. It also shares CAPiTA’s commitment to responsible manufacturing and information about its new snowboard factory, called The Mothership, which has zero C02 emissions and is 100 percent hydropowered. Emphasizing the brand’s unique and rich history and focusing on responsible manufacturing help CAPiTA more strongly position itself as authentic “ Purveyors of the Wildlife” and resonate with customers who share the same beliefs.

4. Adding Benefits That Enable Customers: Beyond improving on benefits, companies can enhance the value of their brands by adding new benefits. Samsonite has introduced line of GeoTrakR suitcases that contain a cellular-enabled eye a new baggage-tracking system. This added benefit solves one of travelers’ (and airlines) most vexing problems— finding lost luggage. Macy’s recently announced that it will add 10 Best Buy shops to Macy’s stores to offer electronic gadgets that Macy’s did not carry. The benefit? Macy’s customers now have access to a new range of products.

5. Adding Benefits That Entice Customers: Age 20’s, a Korean make-up brand of AeKyung Corporation, used a home shopping channel to visually demonstrate the brand’s power in moisturizing skin, keeping it soft. The clip showed water dripping from its Essence Cover Pact foundation when placed on a woman’s skin. This visual was astoundingly powerful in demonstrating the brand’s superb moisturizing abilities. Age 20’s sold 1,199,066 units in 2015, up significantly from its initial 2013 sales of 54,867 units.

6. Adding Benefits That Enrich Customers: Starbucks adds benefits to employees by investing in their college education. Any Starbucks employee who works at least 20 hours a week in the United States and has the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State University can take advantage of the college program. Enrollees can study whatever they like, and they can leave Starbucks without paying back the tuition that Starbucks has paid on their behalf. Starbucks also is leading a new initiative to provide more opportunities to 16- to 24-year-olds living mostly in low-income neighborhoods. People appreciate Starbucks’ principles and its social cause-related movements, identifying themselves with its socially conscious conduct. In addition, Starbucks has consistently added unusual benefits such as stock options and health insurance, even for part-timers.

Dan Price, the 31-year-old CEO of Gravity Payments (a credit-card processing company) recently set anew minimum salary of $70,000 for his 120 employees. He slashed his own million-dollar pay package to make it happen. This move made a huge difference for those employees who were struggling to live and pay bills on much lower salaries. The move drew enthusiastic attention and support from people worldwide who applauded the CEO’s effort to fight income inequality.

7. Deleting Benefits That Fail to Enable Customers: Marketers can also eliminate benefits that fail to enable customers. Sometimes less is truly more. This type of value-enhancement strategy can also cut company costs. The increasing number of functions on consumer electronic products often confuses end users, so eliminating features can be enabling. Miele enhanced the value of its washing machines by eliminating certain functions while promising top product performance and noise control. Fewer functions mean greater simplicity and ease of use, and fewer things that might require product repair. Interestingly, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs indicated that the consumer-electronics good Jobs was most excited about was a Miele washing machine, given the simplicity of the brand’s elegant design.

8. Deleting Benefits That Fail to Entice Customers: Marketers can also delete benefits that do not entice customers. Burger King dropped fountain drinks from its kids’ menus. Soft drinks are still an option, but they are not listed on the King Jr menu. Instead, the kids’ menu offers fat-free milk, 100 percent apple juice, and low-fat chocolate milk. This parent-approved move increased parents’ willingness to take their kids to Burger King. Swatch, the Swiss-made watch brand, deleted expensive stainless steel wristbands, opting instead for cheerful, colorful, and cheaper plastic wristbands. The move saved costs and allowed Swatch to offer wristbands in a wide range of styles and colors, making the brand a loved fashion item.

9. Deleting Benefits That Fail to Enrich Customers: New Balance eliminated leather from some of its running shoes because wearing leather goes against some consumers’ beliefs about using products that cause harm to animals. Likewise, Lush and The Body Shop do not offer products that use animal testing. In fact, Lush goes so far as to say that it only buys ingredients from companies that do not conduct or commission tests on animals. Instead, it tests its products on humans. Deleting benefits (the testing of products animals) that fail to enrich customers helps Lush stand out in the marketplace and build a strong following among consumers who share the brand’s values.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: C. Whan Park, Deborah MacInnis and Andreas Eisingerich, excerpted from their book, Brand Admiration with permission from Wiley Publishing.

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