Promoting a product and its price positioning on the market may prove the effectiveness of a brand manager or extend the list of their worries. The access to comparison websites, which every Internet user has, tempts e-shops to compete with prices and can generate problems such as lowering margins or even price wars.
How to protect the product from the price-only competition and comparing it with others available on the shelf?
1. Unique Selling Proposition
By using its available portfolio, a brand is usually able to offer consumers a product with at least one unique feature, which makes it impossible to compare it 1:1 with similar products. As a result, the consumer sees the difference, so they consider two various purchase offers. As far as the distributor is concerned, they have the possibility of selling two nearly identical products, which, however, will not be direct competition for one another.
The list of product parameters that can be modified by a brand is virtually endless. Deciding to implement USP for a product, you have to remember that a lot depends on the category to which the item belongs to and how it tolerates modifications. Making even a simple change, you will get a different result for a flagship product and a different one for a high margin product, therefore you also need to pay attention to the specifics of each virtual shelf.
2. Value-added more important than the price.
USP does not end with the physical features of the products. A brand may appeal to the buyer’s emotions, such as the TOMS company, which gives a pair of shoes to people in need for each purchased pair. It may also show revolutionary technical novelties in advertisements, as does Electrolux in their home appliances advertisements. Finally, it may create a product that perfectly suits the lifestyle of a given social or age group – an example of this can be the Frugo drink, a case that was discussed in a recently published text. With the application of such procedures, the price of the product often does not only go to the background but even becomes a marginal detail – the “I want this” indicator goes beyond the scale and the consumer often wants to spend more on a product which reflects their lifestyle.
Supplementary strategies: building brand awareness and personalization
Usually, when handling activities for a brand in e-commerce, a brand manager knows the consumer insights very well, is aware of the competitive advantages of their portfolio and has insight into the market situation (e.g. owing to an e-commerce monitoring platform). Therefore, they can “fight” for a mere-exposure effect – which means attachment to products and services which the consumer knows perfectly and therefore chooses a product or services which they trust.
Of course, the above-mentioned effect is most often the result of the brand being present for many years and the quality management of its products, but there is also a shortcut. The continuous presence of the logo and claim identifying the manufacturer in online advertising activities can, in effect, substitute many years of expansion and cause a strong association of a brand with a product. Just remember that only 15-20 years ago, the word “scotch” was equivalent to a sticky tape of any brand – such exposure is something we can only envy!
A special version of the above method is the personalization strategy, assuming frequent contact with the end-user, informing them about special deals, offering specific accessories at reduced prices, but above all, communicating the benefits resulting from the purchase. A good example here are the activities implemented by the IQOS brand – a device for heating tobacco which is supposed to replace a cigarette. The manufacturer has ensured extensive after-sales care, including the creation of a dedicated community, long talks with the consultants explaining how to use, clean and maintain the devices, as well as surveys regarding use rsatisfaction. The system of personalized offers and discounts is also a supplement to these activities.
Paraphrasing the global guru of management, Tom Peters, on the market which is more and more crowded, the winners will create a lasting value in the mind of the customer and not compete with price only. It is worth to take this advice to heart – the price will always be one of the most important decision factors and monitoring prices may help us make it even stronger (by increasing competitiveness or margin, if there is such a possibility), but we also have an influence to make the other mechanisms supporting the purchase function reliably. We then have a guarantee that the price will no longer be the barrier for the consumers and a dangerous competitiveness area among customers.