M&M’s – Brand Engagement

The confectionery conglomerate Mars – who produce the Mars Bar (as expected), Snickers and cat food Whiskers (not so expected) – have just opened their London flagship store for their M&M’s sweets.  The store is part of  a £10 million marketing drive to improve the brand awareness of M&M’s in the U.K. to the similar levels in the U.S.A, where their sweet characters are more widely recognised.  The store serves three purposes: a shop, a tourist destination and, last but not least, to allow consumers to engage with the brand.  It is the last purpose I will focus on.

I think this is a great way to improve brand awareness.  The best form of developing relationships with customers – the essence of marketing – is through communication and interaction.  But all too often companies simply roll out a new ad and subject their consumers to boring messages.  Not only is this actually innovative, it is simply far more effective.  Attractions such as chocolate walls, M&M chandeliers and the ability to customise your own sweets will easily create more of a buzz.

The real reason why this improves brand awareness is that it makes consumers want to engage with the brand.  Visitors to a retail outlet actively choose to enter and are free to explore a great range of merchandise.  Whereas other forms of communication with consumers are normally initiated by the company.  This is similar to something marketing guru Seth Godin calls ‘Permission Marketing’ – the best marketing is welcomed by the consumer and not forced upon them.  The benefits of this are clear: Mars marketing director Alex Brittain claims that visitors spend an average of 40 minutes browsing the store.

All the while, consumers are having fun and developing their relationship with the brand.

 

The only issue with this strategy, inevitably, is the cost.  A city central location for any retailer racks up some serious rent.  And, albeit merchandise normally have huge profit margins, a vast majority of visitors will not actually even spend any money.  That, however, is irrelevant.  I am confident the long-term benefit of creating an effective brand will easily pay long-term dividends that justify this great idea.  It is just a question of measuring the return on investment that will prove to be a challenge.

Do you think it worth opening a whole store for M&M’s?  A cheaper alternative may be to sell the merchandise through Selfridges and set up a pop-up store instead, like Marmite.  Leave a comment below.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 13/07/2011

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Aunt Bessie’s – Social Media

Aunt Bessie’s is a traditional semi-prepared food manufacturer that has achieved great long-term, organic growth.  This has been with a traditional brand image.   The Yorkshire-based business was originally founded in 1974 specialising in producing the local favourite: Yorkshire Puddings.  Since then – not only has production of puddings risen above 20 million a week – the company has also managed to expand its product range.  This has been done by line-filling; Aunt Bessie’s is now a leading supplier of a variety of traditional home-cooked meals.  Inevitably, their market has become fully saturated.  Hence, their latest marketing strategy is to penetrate the market through social media in an attempt to squeeze-out all the sales they can.

But is this just another company aimlessly trying to use social media because ‘everyone else is’?  Or is this a credible strategy?

Although the details are very vague at the moment, Aunt Bessie’s Marketing Manager Lorraine Crow wishes to “maximise awareness of our products and connect with our fans with an engaging social media presence”.  They hope to do this through the most predictable means: create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and run online promotions.  The theory behind it is that consumers have a strong emotional attachment with the brand, and social media provides a more channels for them to engage with their favourite brands.

I see two clear problems with their approach:

1) It’s all been done before – just about every brand has an online presence in a Twitter/Facebook medium.  Albeit they are still formulating their strategy, Aunt Bessie’s has yet to reveal anything revolutionary or innovative.  Why should I want to communicate with this brand, as opposed to any other brand?

2) It does not reflect their positioning – check out the advert below.  It is clear that the core benefits sold to the customer are traditional food, but quick to cook.  Social media is certainly not traditional; moreover, if their customers are looking for a product that saves them time, are they going to want to waste the time they have saved buying Aunt Bessie’s products mindlessly scrolling through the brand’s tweets?

Having said that, however, their advert does have some humour to it.  This suggests that the brand does have potential to keep its core values and add some more emotional values.  Marmite is the best example of this.  They have kept the core product unchanged – high quality, consistent and traditional – while creating a youthful and exciting brand image.  There is no reason why Aunt Bessie’s cannot replicate what Marmite has achieved.

Overall, I am undecided on whether this is a good or bad move.  Although it seems to have a similar objective to Marmite – revive a traditional product – I do not thing social media is the best means to do this through.  Instead the company should look into other ways they can re-introduce the brand through altering their marketing mix.  Social media simply does not work for every type of brand or product.

Let me know if you would bother to interact with Aunt Bessie’s through social media by leaving a comment below.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 06/07/2011.

Santander Group – Re-branding

Santander Group is one of the largest banks in the world, according to their market capitalisation.  The originally Spanish bank has become a truly multinational corporation; it now also owns Abby National, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.  Santander acquired these banks prior to the credit crunch and began to brand them under the wider banking group.  The ethos of this was that big is beautiful.  A larger bank meant more power, wealth and illustrated the success of capitalism.  This, however, was before the financial crisis…

As a result of the colossal bank-bailouts that was necessary to prevent a financial melt-down,  banks have suffered pretty poor public relations the past few years.  Many U.K tax payers no longer see their bank as a safe place for their funds; this has been replaced by a bureaucratic, ‘too-big-to-fail’ and reckless image.  Its common-sense marketing that strategies need to be adjusted to the economic climate, which is why Santander is to re-brand itself.  The strap-line “Together.  We are Santander” – which emphasises the scale of the bank – is to be replaced with “Driven to do better”.  The motoring theme will also become more significant, as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are going to be the focal points of a summer advertising campaign.

Although the financial crisis has clearly altered their consumers’ perceptions and requires some form of response, I am not sure re-branding is the correct solution.  Branding has to reflect the actual product or company itself.  The bank is still going to be a huge multinational and operating in the financial sector.  I believe they may not have considered that it is strong consumers’ beliefs about the entire banking industry that have changed, as opposed to specifically Santander.

Given that there is no way any one bank alone can change the way the public views the public sector, Santander should be focusing on problems specific to their own corporation.  Namely, poor customer service.  This is a problem that has stifled Santander’s success for many years.  This is a critcal issue; customer service is how strong, profitable relationships are built with consumers – the very purpose of marketing.  I have written previously about great customer service here.  The benefits of effective customer relationship marketing should become clear: this, not re-branding, is something Santander could use to gain a competitive advantage.

Overall Santander are right to revise their strategy.  That, however, is a no-brainer.  But instead of trying to convince customers that their bank is superior to their competitors – which is highly deceptive – they need to fundamentally improve their core service.  It seems to me as if they think they can use branding as a quick fix and that their customers are naive and easily swayed by marketing efforts.  Perhaps this arrogant culture may be where their poor customer service originates from?

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 20/06/2011

Lucozade – Continuous Market Development

I have previously written here about Lucozade’s history: the product was originally intended for those suffering from minor illnesses; yet, through the process of finding new markets for an existing product (market development), Glaxosmithkline (GSK) have created a commercial success.  Having now positioned the Lucozade brand towards sports performance and penetrated the U.S market, GSK wants to realign the original Lucozade drink with young adults.  This strategy is very well planned; it has been augmented through segmentation, differentiation and multi-branding.

GSK’s strategy to target the younger, active consumer – rather than purely athletes – features a new slogan ‘YES’ and a new advertising campaign featuring musicians – aspirational groups – such as Tinie Tempah.  This is a stark contrast to their norm of using professional athletes.  Although I do not particularly like the new slogan and find celebrity endorsements too predictable, I believe GSK are on to a winner.

The critical element of their differentiation strategy has been segmentation.  Hence, a profitable market has been identified for urban trend-setters and for athletes.  This forms the basis for product and branding strategies to work in coordination in order to meet the demands of separate consumers – an imperative for market development.  For instance, you may have noticed that the original, fizzy Lucozade is popular among those for seeking a refreshing soft-drink.  On the other hand, athletes are much more likely to be drinking the still carbonated drinks.  These differences are due to the product’s differentiation.

The new ‘YES’ strategy, encompassing the above advertisement, will place greater emphasis on these differences.  Consequently, I believe, the multi-branding strategy of Lucozade will become even more effective.  But already the basic elements of the marketing mix have long been used to make consumers associate the different Lucozade brands with different needs.

Although it may sound obvious to point out, it is easy to forget that the original Lucozade drink to be targeted at young drinkers was re-branded as Lucozade ‘Energy’, rather than ‘Original’ a long time ago.  Where as the still variety has been branded as Lucozade ‘Sport’.  Furthermore, if we look at the place element of Lucozade Energy’s marketing mix, the product is often sold alongside other competing soft-drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  Hence, in terms of using marketing to create a competitive advantage, a differentiation strategy reflects GSK’s market position as the challenger in the soft-drink oligopoly.

However, if GSK wants Lucozade Energy to really connect with younger, trendy target segments, then using purely traditional media will be ineffective.  Therefore, GSK has formed a strategic alliance with the music-orientated, social media website Spotify.  This entails a promotion where Lucozade consumers have the chance to win premium Spotify accounts and Spotify users having the chace to win Lucozade-branded merchandise and concert tickets.

It’s very rare that I find a marketing strategy I like so much.  The only drawback/risk I can imagine is that the ‘Energy’ brand gets stuck in no-man’s land. By that I mean the drink has too much energy and mental enhancement connotations to be perceived as an enjoyable soft-drink, and therefore fail to compete with in the fizzy drink market. While at the same time, the drink is not perceived to be a concentrated source of energy, and thus fail to compete in the energy drink market – against the likes of Red Bull and Relentless.

Having said that, their multi-brand strategy provides them with flexibility to differentiate products for different markets.  Hence, they already have a energy-stimulant positioned product to fill this gap left by the repositioning of Lucozade Energy.  This is the key advantage of differentiation: Flexibility.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 31/03/2011

Adidas – Cross-branding

I have previously written about how Reckitt Benckiser (R.B.) have used cross-branding in their up-and-coming spring cleaning advertising campaign here.  Although I felt it was a great idea to sell several brands simultaneously, R.B. missed out – in my opinion – to promote their corporate identity to truly convert their consumers’ brand loyalty across their entire product range.  Adidas, on the other hand, seem to have perfected the strategy.

Adidas’s latest advertisement “Adidas is all in”, features the firm’s three main brands: Originals, Sport Performance and Sport Style.  Hence, the company aims to offer consumers clothing for whatever urban-orientated occasion arises.  This is emphasised by the classic use of aspirational groups; Katy Perry and David Beckham allow different consumers, with different idols, to be ‘won-over’.

More importantly, this form of cross-branding shows the strength of Adidas’s corporate image.  All of their separate brands clearly support a coherent and consistent message: Adidas represents dynamic, urban and youthful lifestyles.

Futhermore, Adidas clearly knows how to interact with its target market.  Firstly, the traditional marketing of the campaign is being augmented through the use of social media; Adidas intends to generate more hype by using Twitter and Facebook to give away Katy Perry concert tickets and a brand new range of shoes.  Secondly, as emerging economies become more lucrative markets, there is a growing class of eastern consumers who aspire to own western brands.  This latest campaign introduces these new consumers with a crash-course in Adidas’s product lines and their famous two logos.

What R.B. and Adidas have shown through their cross-branding adverts is that consumers are now looking beyond the product: consumers often care more about who they purchase from, rather than what the product is.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 21/03/2011

Reckitt Benckiser – Cross-branding

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is the, often over-looked, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) producer that is responsible for brands such as Cilit Bang, Airwick and even Durex(!).  Their latest product-line decision coincides with spring: they are promoting their individual cleaning brands in one promotional campaign focused around the traditional ‘spring cleaning’ that is supposed to take place in British households.  RB hopes that consumers will purchase a wide variety of cleaning products at this time of year, and thus wants to encourage them to choose only their products.  This called cross-branding, and is just one approach a firm can apply to undertake when they operate a wider, long-term multi-brand strategy.

The theory behind a cross-branding strategy is that stronger brand equity can be created by aligning, or optimising, a firm’s diverse product-line around common beliefs and values.  This requires individual product attributes to all occupy similar positions in the consumers’ minds to be effective.  For RB, this means that all their cleaning products must emphasise efficiency, strength and effectiveness – all characteristics associated with the optimism of a ‘spring clean’.  The ultimate gain, however, extends beyond product brand equity: cross-branding generates greater brand loyalty, but across a range of brands.

RB operates in a highly competitive market where consumers often display habitual buying behaviour – when consumers repeatedly purchase familiar brands.  Hence, branding is particularly important for RB to gain loyalty (repeat purchasing does not mean consumers are loyal to a brand and thus competitive advantages over Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.  These competing FMCG giants are realising the importance of building corporate brands.  The former has always had the most significant corporate profile due to the strength of their individual brands, like Marmite, and highly successful marketing campaigns, such as Dove’s ‘real women’.  And I have previously mentioned how the latter has recently transitioned away from multi-branding towards corporate branding.

Unilever and Proctor and Gambles’ approaches differ from RB: they aim to generate brand loyalty across multiple brands by emphasising their own brand equity, as the producers.  Where as RB are trying to generate the same loyalty, under similar pressure, but through cross-branding.  This feels almost as a lost opportunity to promote their corporate brand.  I believe their advertisement should at the very least feature the company’s name or logo at the end.  This would be far more effective at generating multi-brand loyalty: consumers find it easier to remember one company as opposed to several brands.

Hence, by promoting RB as a brand, consumers would look out for products manufactured by RB and not their competitiors. Without promoting their corporate identity consumers behaviour will be similar to: seeing the ad, intending to purchase RB cleaning products and forgetting which brands inspired them to seek more variety.  This would simply lead to the total market sales for cleaning products to rise, not necessarily RB’s market share.  Overall, however, I really like the idea of cross-branding – it just seems as if RB missed a chance to kill two birds with one stone and improve their company image.

 

Procter and Gamble – Corporate branding vs multi-branding

Procter and Gamble (P&G) is the American, fast-moving consumer goods company behind many brands you are likely to have lying around your house: Ariel, Bounty, Pringles and Gillette – just to name a few. These brands are probably familiar to you. Hence, their strategy to date of promoting multiple brands to target different market segments has been highly effective. However, this has hitherto been at that expense of promoting their corporate brand. Thus, P&G have reviewed their promotional mix; now, the company plans to promote their corporation’s environmental credentials through T.V. advertising in the U.K . Their belief is that if consumers perceive P&G to be a green company, then they will actively seek out their brands. This coincides with the lauch of their new environmental sustainability vision.

Simply, P&G are moving away from a mutli-brand strategy to a corporate branding strategy. But surely there are advantages and drawbacks of each approach?

Firstly, what has made P&G so successful? As mentioned before, effective multi-branding is the answer. This allows P&G to tailor different features that appeal to different consumers – note in the picture above: they manufacture both Head & Shoulders and Pantene shampoo. As a result of this, the company can take a differentiated approach to marketing. Thus, long-term relationships are developed with customers by closely satisfying their wants and needs with products that have a competitive advantage over their competitors. Although P&G have overcome the most common drawback of using a multi-brand strategy – that each brand may only obtain a small market share – they do suffer from a lack of corporate publicity.

Unlike P&G, Unilever and Reckitt Beckinser, their major competitors ,have already started to promote their corporate brand – as opposed to their products’. Unilever distinctively display their logo on their advertisements; while Reckitt Beckinser has started to raise their corporate publicity among students to highlight the graduate job opportunities they offer. So already P&G are playing catch-up with their micro-environment.

This means that above-the-line promotion is needed, in the form of advertisements, to quickly raise their corporate profile. This would account for the creative advertising, below, which has already been aired in the U.S.

Take note of the ending: although they highlight the relevant product range to Mothers – a key market segment – the main emphasis is on the company, P&G. This is an indication of how they aim to undertake corporate branding in the U.K – sponsorship of the 2012 olympics that emphasises their environemtal sustainability and healthy living ethos. Thus, like how Mothers in the U.S. may seek out products from various P&G product lines, health and environmental concerned consumers in the U.K. will theoretically look out for P&G products.

Moreover, I believe that this corporate branding strategy will provide even more longer-term benefits for P&G, that may not even be a part of their marketing objectives. Namely, as consumers trust and recognise P&G, the more willing they may become to try new brands they launch. For instance, Heinz’s traditional labeling has become synonymous with high-quality food products. This develops deeper consumer relationships. If P&G can achieve a similar brand positioning – in the minds of their consumers – then product development becomes less risky and, therefore, innovation becomes more effective.

However, in order for corporate branding to be a success, the company must have a good reputation – a slightly obvious observation I know. But still, a poor reputation is a major weakness. As such, Kraft Foods – unlike others mentioned so far – are still emphasising their product brands other their corporate identity following the consumer backlash over their unethical behaviour during the takeover of Cadbury Chocolate.

Ultimately, I believe a corporate branding strategy will work for P&G – albeit it being implemented a little late. However, I do not feel that it will be sufficient to promote their apparent environmental considerations; environmental impact varies so much on a product-to-product basis. Hence, each one of their products has different degrees of sustainability – it is the brand of the product that will prevail over the brand of the company on ethical issues. But, more importantly, corporate branding is likely to be a huge success for the P&G in terms of making consumers more receptive to the high-quality innovation that the firm has yet to receive credit for.

© Joshua Blatchford author of Manifested Marketing 31/12/2010

Toyota and Geely – Provenance Paradox

The Harvard Business Review recently made me aware of the effect provenance paradox has on a brand’s positioning. Provenance paradox is the issue marketers have to deal with when their brand is assessed by consumers according to the country of origin. Hence, if I ask you who makes the best chocolate, you’re likely to think Switzerland or Belgium; likewise, France make the best wines, Cuba make the best cigars and Germany make the best cars. In the previous examples, this benefits brands associated with their country’s reputation – such as Volkswagen of Germany.

But, what happens if a company does not want their brands judged according to their origin? As positioning of a brand in consumers is fundamental to successful marketing –  provenance paradox can be a critical weakness in any the most fool-proof of marketing strategies. In this post, I will contrast two different responses that two different car manufacturers have adopted to over-come this negative brand association.

The first way of countering provenance paradox is through selecting a strong positioning strategy that dominates consumers minds. This is the approach used by Toyota in 1989 when they wanted to break into the American market for luxury, saloon cars – market development expansion – while competing against German manufacturers like Mercedes, Audi and BMW. To do this Toyota adopted a brand extension strategy to alter their value proposition; thus, Lexus was created. Lexus became part of Toyota’s multi-brand strategy to appeal to different a different market segment from Toyota’s that wanted affordable luxury. Hence, the value proposition for consumers was ‘more for the same’ – Lexus offered greater benefits for the same price as their German rivals. Consequently, a competitive advantage was created as a result of price benchmarking and advertising directly comparing the value of Lexus to competitors. This meant that the parent company, Toyota, was hugely successful in differentiating their offerings.

Geely, however have taken a very different approach. Geely, are a Chinese car manufacture and, until this year, only made budget or Rolls-Royce copy-cat cars for their national market. At this point, provenance paradox – China being famous for low-cost, low-quality products – was not a problem as they were positioning ‘less for less’ to their consumers. However, expansion into international markets meant that they would have to offer greater quality. Moreover, as expensive purchases like cars are considered complex buying decisions, consumers need reassurance from the brand they are dealing with. Hence, Geely acquired Volvo, who are synonymous with Sweeden’s reputation for innovation and creative design. This form of upward stretch allows Geely to sell more up-market cars for a higher price, while hiding the identity of the parent company. This has been a smart move – I bet you have heard of Volvo, but you are far less likely to be aware of Geely. Hence, Geely have used different methods than Toyota to implement a similar multibrand strategy.

Despite the success of both these strategies, there are inevitable drawbacks to both approaches. Toyota’s decision to reposition their product range of luxury autos through the creation of a new brand requires significant, long-term investment. This carries huge risk – more so than acquiring a new brand because if Lexus cars was to flop, sales of Toyota cars, their cash cow if you like, would also decline. On the other hand, Geely’s upward stretch of their product line also has its drawbacks. Namely, the company may lack the experience and skills required to manufacture and market high-quality cars. furthermore, the acquisition process is highly complex and – such is the case with any form of merger or takeover – Geely’s culture may conflict with Volvo’s, resulting in management difficulties.

Check out these links to see there differences in brand value and culture. Here Volvo claim to be market-leaders in safety; this suggests a conservative, prudent approach to business by senior management. Geely, on the other hand, are keen to stress entrepreneurialism and diversity. This spells out a more risky corporate attitude that simply may not go down well in Volvo’s boardroom.

This dilemma poses a question: what is the best way to overcome provenance paradox? Unfortunately, there is no answer. How a firm choose its marketing strategy depends on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; moreover, these need to correspond to external changes in the political, economic, social and technological environment. Hence, a SWOT and PEST analysis should identify the best strategy for a given firm in a given situation. But, if I were to choose which strategy I respect the most, Toyota’s repositioning is what I consider ‘true marketing’ – acquiring another brand is a bit like cheating.

© Joshua Blatchford author of Manifested Marketing 20/12/2010

Comet Electricals – Rebranding

Comet, the electrical goods retailer owned by Kesa  Electricals, has initiated its new marketing plan: corporate rebranding. Unlike product rebranding, corporate rebranding aims to alter a company’s values, reputation and consumers’ perceptions – not altering their products sold. As a broad strategy to convey a more laid-back attitude, to be successful a number of specific tactical decisions have been made: a new white and orange logo, “Come and Play” slogan, casual staff uniforms and open floor plans for up to 100 of it’s 250 UK stores. Moreover, above-the-line promotion, in the form of TV advertisements, will help raise awareness of the new image among consumers. But, given the high levels of competitiveness in their retail sector, one has to ask if this change is large enough to have any meaningful impact on sales.

This strategy, which is a response to increased levels of competition from Dixons and Best Buy, could be classified as a loose form of market penetration; they see the best form of increasing their competitiveness is sticking to what they know while minimising the risk of alienating existing customers. This may be of particular importance to the company given the level of trust needed in a brand for consumers to spend large amounts of money on electrical goods – for instance, good customer service is expected to involve installation and easy returns – during a recession. Hence, it is likely that the strategy is a response to change Comet to fit consumers needs, who are more fearful, rather than transform the company as a result of internal influences.

Although the aforementioned changes may seem insignificant, they appear to be coherent and consistent in their direction, which means that all these small factors could have a big impact on their sales revenue. It may be likely that customers become more encouraged to purchase ‘fun’ electrical goods – T.Vs, games consoles and computers – in addition to household appliances. As Maclcolm Gladwell argues, ‘The Power of Context’ – the external environment that influences decision-making – may provide the tipping-point or the small difference between a sale; hence, if a small difference is made to each customer at every store, a large difference can be made to revenue.

Despite this impact of rebranding, I do have one issue with their strategy: that is the change of uniform. Although, the current staff uniform of suits is out-dated and cheesy – also a warning sign of a dodgy salesperson – the proposed uniform does not command respect either. Moreover, the pastel colours do not connote knowledge, experience or trust that customers look for in employees; consumer relationship marketing is most effective when an actual, human relationship can be formed. Also, is this really enough to transform sales in a poor economy, one in which competitors are also fighting for market share?

The rebranding strategy is, evidently, a crucial one for Comet. And, because they aim to have transformed themselves in time for Christmas, strict control over the marketing plan is vital to establishing a new image – something which can take businesses a very long time to achieve…

© Joshua Blatchford author of Manifested Marketing 13/09/2010

Compare the Market- Diverse Marketing

VCCP, the marketing agency behind Compare the Market‘s hugely successful meerkat marketing campaign, knows modern brands are built through using various promotional channels. Lord Bell – Chairman of Chime Communications, VCCP’s parent company – said in The Times: “The ability to deliver one hit wonders has gone… You need to go through a wide variety of channels”. Everyone is familiar with the above-the-line T.V promotions, but what other channels have been used to create a famous Russian meerkat persona called Aleksandr Orlov, who has increased brand awareness from 20% to 59%?

Compare the Market’s £15 million annual marketing budget was outsourced to VCCP, who launched a gimmick website comparethemeerkat.com to satire the confusion over brand recognition of the numerous price comparison websites – a drawback of operating in a monopolisitically competitive market. Although T.V advertisements promoted the websites, Compare the Market gained their competitive advantage through extending their promotional mix even further.

The use of social media and online downloads, for instance, shows the benefits of using a diverse approach to marketing, albeit the return on investment is nearly impossible to measure; but it is the qualitative benefits that is the essence of creative marketing. At the time of writing Aleksandr Orlov has 758,613 fans on Facebook, 1,485,287 views on Youtube, and 40,091 followers on Twitter – these are people who have voluntarily chosen to be subjected to marketing – which fits into Seth Godin’s ‘Permission Marketing’ theory. Hence, the best marketing involves customers consent, and therefore trust is built: customer relationship marketing in turn creates brand loyalty that encourages Compare the Market users to try out new features, which makes diversification easier.

Moreover, merchandising of the Aleksandr Orlov has been astonishingly successful. 5000 limited edition toy models of the meerkat were sold exclusively at Harrods, who themselves have developed a premium reputation: a paradoxical, but effective, use of distribution channels meant that all toys were quickly sold out. Now on ebay, the asking price for one of the official toys is often more than double the £19.95 RRP. Additionally, visitors to the parody Compare the Meerkat website can download ringtones, voicemail messages and desktop wallpaper backgrounds and even watch Aleksandr Orlov in several ‘films’.

So although the meerkat’s catch-phrase ‘simples’ is representative of Compare the Market‘s ethos and website, it could not be more of an antithesis of its marketing strategy.

© Joshua Blatchford author of Manifested Marketing 13/08/2010

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