Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Retail Banking Shows Us How To Brand in a Commoditized Industry

By the way, there are lots of similarities between the issues faced by the commercial printing industry and the issues faced by the retail banking industry. Retail banking is just further ahead on the curve. Banks went through a period of years in which retail banking became viewed as a commodity and “all banks are alike” so “just give me the best rates”. As much as banks tried toaster giveaways, nothing worked. As much as banks screamed “we provide great service”, nobody listened. Only in the past couple of years have banks learned that with an integrated rebranding effort they could attract new customers. In their world, they began to distribute banking access to smaller retail outlets closer to their retail customers (which is why there seems to be a bank going up on every corner!) and they began to use their retail space as selling space...that is, as a store (not just a waiting line with ropes and maybe a few chairs to wait in). Today, a contemporary bank is fully branded with visually integrated sales materials, site layout, building design and furnishings, logos, signage, advertising, and programmed digital communications in the bank - all geared towards selling and cross-selling. While retail banking is a far cry from industries such as commercial printing, it does demonstrate that the future is bright for traditional industries that can embrace technology , leverage branding concepts and adapt to changing customer needs not only in the services they sell and production processes, but also in how they communicate. Successful banks are moving away from the threat of commoditization. It can be done in other industries facing commoditization.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Segmentation and Niche Marketing

An excellent article in the most recent issue of Adveritsing Age summarizes a study by Booz Allen Hamilton that contains an interesting and compelling insight about the evolution of market segmentation. Using the statement that niche marketing is about narrow not small, the important concept is that traditional marketing segmentation looks for commonalities within a diverse group of consumers, while the philosophy today is to look for differences within a common group. Think about that for a moment. Instead of seeking common features among a broad base of consumers to define a segment, today marketers look at a common group of consumers and look for differences (niches). These niches represent comfort zones of consumers. Marketing to these consumers in ways that appeal to these zones makes the brand a part of their lives and lifestyles. Rather than trying to make a broader brand appeal to number of sgements by communicating in different ways, make the brand appeal deeply to a specific niche within a common group. Thought-provoking.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sustainability and Spiral of Expectations

The "Greening" of consumable products will be subject to the same spiral of expectations described on Marketing Witz.
Marketing Witz: Marketing Witz: Spiral of Expectations. As companies race to make Green claims, consumers will increasingly expect performance in the area of environmental performance and sustainability. What today appeals to companies as a claim of competitive advantage will be but a cost of entry claim tomorrow. As consumers are increasingly educated on the issues surrounding sustainability, companies that pose by making inflated claims will be caught in the glare of consumer headlights. Companies must think and act at least one to two iterations ahead (or more!) of the curve. If a company chooses to make compelling envrionmental product claims, they must also make claims at the company level (How can the brand be environmentally friendly and support sustainability if the corporate entity cannot?) Forward thinking businesses will be aware of the spiral of expectations as applied to environmental consumer issues.