Tag Archives: apple

Brand Pooooo-ooositioning

Brand positioning statement is often confused with a company tagline or slogan. At some level that isn’t completely wrong but if one tries to understand the true meaning of both, in fact they are very different.

Positioning statements are for internal usage and understanding the broader concept for the internal audience, about what is expected from them. Business is driven basis these statements which includes the marketing and the operating aspects.

Whereas a tag line is developed for the consumers to portray the same positioning for an external audience, used in primarily the marketing efforts. Insights from your positioning statement can be turned into a tagline, but it is important to distinguish between the two.

Examples of Positioning & Tagline

Mercedes-Benz:

Positioning: fascination, perfection and responsibility

Tagline: Engineered like no other car in the world

BMW:

Positioning: Quality, technology, performance and exclusivity

Tagline: The ultimate driving machine

Brand positioning means owning a piece of real estate in the consumers mind. The key here is to make sure that one captures an empty slot and not trying to win over an occupied one. Hence the key is to be first else some other brand will occupy that space. It helps the brand get the preference over competition, it also ensures that Positioning needs to be based on an extremely strong insight else getting the mind space is impossible.

Mind space occupied by brands

Brand positioning refers to “target consumer’s” reason to buy your brand in preference to others. It is ensures that all brand activity has a common aim; is guided, directed and delivered by the brand’s benefits/reasons to buy; and it focuses at all points of contact with the consumer.



In the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Reis and Trout’s, positioning means the idea is to find and attempt to “own” a marketing niche for a brand, product, or service using various strategies including pricing, promotions, distribution, packaging, and competition. The idea is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.

Every business is unique and offers its products and services with their personal touch and hence the positioning also needs to have the same differentiated touch else it will be easily adopted or copied. Each and every employee of the brand needs to have the positioning in their mind and make sure in their own way this is driven. For e.g. if positioning is to offer performance car than right from the build quality of the car to the dealership everything should shout out performance.

But this is easier said than done, many marketers themselves forget about the positioning of the company and in the quest of trying something new deviate from this. And if the creators deviate other don’t even bother following. Turning everything you do into an expression of your desired positioning and you can create something special. Only once the internal audience accept and follow the positioning will the external start believing in the same.

There are various ways to position a brand

Own a category benefit
Volvo: Safety
Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling
Walt Disney Company: Magic

Consumer Centric
U.S. Army: Be all you can be
Budweiser: For all you do, this Bud’s for you
Pepsi Generation

Company Operation
Burger King: Have it your way
United Airlines: The friendly skies of United
WalMart: Always the lowest price

Competition based
Avis: We’re #2. We try harder
Seven-Up: The Un-cola
Apple: Think different

 

Selecting one of the above is completely dependent a combination of all the above factors like the category, consumer, brand & its competition. Whichever one gives a stronger differentiator then it should be picked and explored further to be articulated in a consumer friendly language.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – HOW TO DELIVER AN ENRICHING EXPERIENCE

To deliver on an excellent and enriching customer experience an organization has to ensure that every touch point for the consumer has to be delightful experience. It could be as trivial as a call centre script or actually sending him a greeting card on a special occasion all of them are equally important. And most leading brands don’t consider this a priority and hence don’t pay enough attention to this critical aspect of the business that is the new mountain to be conquered. A lot is written about this but seldom brands practice this and those who do like Harley, IKEA, etc have made their brands EPIC.

CX Steve jobs

  1. Reviewing the current CX practices

Understanding the current practices or the performance of the organization in the customer experience (CX) domain is the first step in upgrading the current CX. This exercise will involve challenging the obvious and looking at other evolved categories like airlines, banking, insurance, etc that map their customers and use that information to offer better solutions in a customized way. Every process in the organization will have to be rigorously monitored like call monitoring, constant feedback from customers at all touch points and research on how the current CX can be bettered, CSAT (customer satisfaction survey), etc. All this data combined will throw up insights about how the customer wants the sequence of activities to take place and which are the non-value adding activities that are to be removed from the current CX. For e.g. banks have now started automated IVR services to cut costs but from a customer’s perspective it at times resulting many call-backs which spoils the entire customer experience.



Various malpractices, false promises by marketing, process disobedience and lack of control over customer facing teams is often the cause of lower customer experience. For the sake of selling products services or converting prospect into leads sales/call centre team give false promises and convert the prospect to customer. But eventually over the course these prospects become hostile and start negative reviews over social media which hampers overall brand’s CX. Lack of processes whether it’s the sales pitch process, script adherence or interaction with teams is another big pain area that spoil the customer’s experience. One simple thing like when a customer lodges a complaint he is given a ticket number and is asked to give that the next time he calls but often he has to narrate the entire story of his harrowing experience again and again till the resolution is found. This happens not just with local players but also with global MNC giants as well. Rather than recording the data and using it as an opportunity to delight the customer by resolution companies make the customer go through the experience 10 times before giving an answer forget about the resolution.

Infographic on CX

  1. Analysing Key Customer Journeys

This is the most important step in uplifting the CX for an organization as it will tell you where you need tweaking or revamping in the current CX. This could be data driven or gut driven (informed estimate) or could be as simple as laying down certain processes and asking the team to follow. Ideally it should be a mix of all since each method has its own merits.

To cull out the pain points within an existing CX one could start research that helps gather data on the customer volume in a given journey, reasons for call center complaints, and obvious gaps in performance—for example, discrepancies between promises made in marketing materials and services actually delivered. This will give a laundry list of key issues that now plague the CX and the same 80:20 rule applies here as well where 20% of the nature of complaints will impact 80% volume. This helps narrowing down the focus and next steps are thought upon.




A company should gather customer and employee surveys along with working data across various functions to assess performance and gauge how it is doing on the competition. Best-in-class companies use regression models to understand which journeys have the greatest impact on overall customer satisfaction and business outcomes, and then run simulations to get a picture of the potential impact of various initiatives. This exercise isn’t a small task and may take months to get a true picture of the current CX but the benefits far outlast the effort put in to do the exercise. This allows the CXO level to find various aspects of CX and decide which ones will worked upon on priority in their experience strategy.

customer_experience_lifecycle

  1. Re-modelling the Experience and Alignment

This first step in this phase is to actually show entire customer journey cycle to the respective team along with the pain points as identified earlier. The priority pain points are to be highlighted well with an impact in monetary terms to make the team understand the depth of the issue. Even if a fix appears obvious from the outside, the root causes of poor customer experience always stem from the inside, often from cross-functional disconnects. Only by getting cross-functional teams together to see problems for themselves and design solutions as a group can companies hope to make fixes that stick.

Secondly the most important aspect is to set up a goal or a benchmark which the team needs to meet, this will enable them to draw up plans about how to meet the goal and what help it needs from the management team. This ensures that there is complete alignment to a common goal and work towards the same with full conviction.

  1. Changing the mind-set

Plans made on paper are of no value till they are executed well. And even here re-modelling the CX is of no use till all the teams live and breathe the new model. Getting the changes done is hugely important and at the same time extremely challenging as well since it will mean a shift of mindset from the current ways of working. However, delivering at scale on customer journeys requires two high-level changes that merit mention here: (1) modifying the organization and its processes to deliver excellent journeys, and (2) adjusting metrics/KRA and incentives to support journeys, not just touch points.

And since CX does not fall under any particular teams KRA, it may mean there needs to be a team of people under the leadership of Chief Customer Experience Officer who would look into this, in case of a smaller organization added responsibility is to be given to members of the functions. This team needs to drive change by aligning and pushing the agenda in every aspect of the business keeping the customer in mind.

Once this its done the biggest differentiation for the brand would be the CX which cannot be duplicated by any other brand and will definitely help bring in more business at much reduced costs.

Great CX for a brand then translated into commercially rewarding experience for the brand as well

  • Amazon Q4 14, net sales increased by 15% over Q4 13
  • Apple 39.9% profit per product (3 months to end Dec 14)
  • First Direct Moneywise “Most Trusted” and Which? Best Banking Brand
  • John Lewis profit before tax up 12% in 2014 vs 2013
  • Disney Earnings per share up 27% in year to Dec 2014
  • Air New Zealand Earnings before taxation up 20% in H1 15 vs H1 14
  • Mercedes Revenue increased 12% from 2013 to 2014
  • Starbucks Revenue rise 13% in Q1 FY15
  • BMW 7% increase in vehicle sales in Jan 15 vs Jan 14
  • Boden Shipping 12,500 parcels each day

Customer Experience – The Next Warzone

Quote on Customer expereience

Treat your consumers like royalty and they are yours for life

In today’s era where the brands are at the mercy of the consumer and products have become more and more like a commodity, it become imperative for brands to up the ante. Earlier the brands edge was purely based on product superiority and that era has ended as most brands have figured a way to match competition products. Today these brands want to offer more than products more experiences and touch points for the consumers to engage with the brands. And hence brands that strive for excellence customer experience triumph in today’s world.



Everyone wants to be treated like kings and queens and the ones that do get this treatment are the ones that solidify the brand pyramids for brands. Look at cult brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Ikea, Zappos, etc. These brands don’t just offer products but offer an experience to their consumers which makes the die-hard fans of the brand.

harley, ikea, wwe, VW

According to the 2015 Forrester Research Customer Experience Index, improving the customer experience management is a strategic priority for 73% of businesses, yet only 1% of companies deliver an excellent customer experience.

marketers-the-dreaded-customer-experience-gap_54de4101492a0

Leaving apart a few brands (not considering local ones) most brands have understood the meaning of having a world-class products and they strive for product excellence. It enables them to confuse the consumer with stronger claims that are further amplified via marketing and more often or not that tilts the buyer preference towards their brands. This makes it extremely difficult for the consumers to decide as again they face a problem of brands being seen as a commodity.

The deal just gets better and better for marketers as first we need to first get a great insight and then make sure the insights is relevant and profitable enough to make into a good product. Then make sure the product is delivered as per the brief and better than competition. Post which the create excitement in the market via a robust communications strategy that is in-line with that the brand stands for. This used to work till sometime back but today most brands as mentioned deliver these things so how can one differentiate your product?

One of the key ways to differentiate the brand/product is the uniform experience across multiple touch points. Normally in a business the phase which is the decision-making cycle where the front-line team are interacting with the customer is considered to the most important  focus area. Here the businesses make sure that they create most satisfaction for the prospect to actually become a customer. These organizations fail to recognize that it’s not just about bagging a deal it’s about how this deal becomes beneficial to all in a larger context especially for service industries.

For e.g. an organization would receive hundreds of calls in a day and their priority would be to ensure all calls are handled with extreme care and understanding of the prospects need so when one does a Customer Satisfaction survey on that aspect the rating are normally high, but post experience rating for most organizations drop significantly due to the experience falling short of expectations.

This tells me that every organization that believes in retaining and excelling at customer experience needs to map the customers journey that will throw a tremendous amount of learning’s for the organization which will make sure that customers at every stage are provided with the best customer experience journeys with the brands. By doing so it help the organization in ensuring 2 things – better retention of customer lower acquisition costs and second they being our brand ambassadors and give of more business via more revenue per customer and referrals.

There are multiple ways of improving the Customer Experience or customer journey with brands, will list down my thoughts in my next blog.

WILL BE CONTINUED….

The Apple Story

Apple, formerly known as Apple Computer, is today a multinational corporation that creates consumer electronics, personal computers, computer software and commercial servers & content.  Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple Computer on April 1, 1976, and incorporated the same in 1977. Back then the company was a manufacturer of personal computers only but they went through a rough patch which coincided with the period when Steve Jobs was ousted from the company.

Today Apple’s market capitalization is higher than Google and in fact from Microsoft as well, which still dominates the operating system platforms for desktops/laptops. Apple dropped the word computer from the company name in 2007 post their launch of IPod and ITunes. 2007 also marked their foray in the smart phone category which as we know revolutionized the entire category.



Apple financial statsThe first iPhone came in giving its consumers new and innovative features, such as a multi-touch interface and a new operating system. And they adopted a unique strategy of introducing new phones every year, where competition like Nokia believed in providing customers with phones that last for a lifetime. The models that followed the first generation are the iPhone 3G (July 2008), the iPhone 3GS (June 2009), the iPhone 4 (June 2010), the iPhone 4S (October 2011), the iPhone 5 (September 2012), the iPhone 5C / 5S (September 2013) and the iPhone 6 (September 2014).

Sales of the iPhone have risen strongly over the years, from around 1.4 million iPhones sold in 2007 to almost 170 million units worldwide in 2014. In total, Apple has sold more than 590 million new iPhones from 2007 to 2014 all around the world. In 2013, Apple has held a market share of 15.3 percent of new smartphone sales worldwide.

When it comes to smartphone upgrades, there are three different types of people. There are those who can’t wait to get their hands on any new model their brand of choice churns out. There are those who upgrade their device whenever their contract is up for renewal and there are those who stick to their device until it no longer works or becomes totally obsolete. Apple has truly taken innovation to a new level and it benchmarks its own products an year on year keep coming up with a better version.  And this strategy has worked wonderfully well for the company as they tapped a the first segment that is constantly wanting to update their gadgets. Although this segment may be a smaller segment as compared to the others but this segment has deeper pockets and hence in terms of revenue Apple scores far above competition.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview last year, “We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone. Our primary objective is to sell a great phone and provide a great experience, and we figured out a way to do it at a lower cost.” Even his predecessor Jobs believed in generating more profits than capturing share. The company has always come up with products that are distinctly differentiated, making its products unique and attractive to consumers. They focussed on a particular customer segment and maintained a premium price that has created an artificial entry barrier for all its competitors.

Interestingly, was going through a Gallup study which revealed that iPhone users tend to upgrade their phones more frequently than those using Android devices. This chart shows how often smartphone users in the United States upgrade their devices.

apple iphone upgrade cycle

This clearly tells us that if there is well thought out long term strategy that is based foresight and on a excellent product / its experience the outcome will be beautiful. Take examples of companies that didn’t move with time IBM, Canon, etc they had excellent products but they didn’t move on and got stuck and today are paying the price for the same. Apple went on from Personal Computers to now Smart phones and media/content which is how they are at the the top of the pyramid.

Apple product portfolio

Co-branded Marketing, is it the in thing?

 The Unilever Yum Brands Tie-up 

kissan and pizza hut

Co-branding as a concept has been around for years, but recently we have witnessed considerable activities in this space. But still relatively this is an unused strategy, that helps  boost revenues and brand equity scores for their respective brands that tie-up.
This recent tie up of behemoths Unilever and Yum Brands via their respective brands Pizza Hut and Kissan is a live example of co-branding and executed well via multiple mediums like TVC, POS, etc in the market.
Co-branding is increasingly becoming important as a marketing strategy, as it allows brands to combine their strengths and loyal customer bases, while sharing advertising and promotional expenses to get a better ROMI. With this kind of strategy one brand gets exposed to the consumers of the other brand and increase their prospective consumer base instantly.  More importantly each brand gets a massive sampling via the other brand which if done via the traditional route would cost millions that mean more cost efficiencies.

nike_apple

Why Pizza Hut and Kissan decide to Co-Brand? To start off, both the brands are popular and one of the strongest brands in the food industry which makes them an even match. It’s a powerful way of introducing one company’s products and services to the loyalists of another.



Co-branding also help a brand to get some brand equity rub off from the other brand to oneself, in the current case both signify quality food and naturalness both the brand compliment each other very well. In some cases, companies co-brand to charge a premium, such as Ford’s (F) two-decade partnership with Eddie Bauer and its more recent creation of the “450 horsepower supercharged Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Super Crew” with an MRP of more than $42,000.

Harley and Ford

Co-branding is an often-overlooked strategy by which the whole can truly be greater than the sum of the parts. While it should be used sparingly and judiciously, it could generate a new level of interest and excitement around your products and services. In this case I truly believe it’s a good fit as in India Pizza is not complete without the tomato ketchup. It’s not just a matter of having the correct brand fit but sometimes it’s also about organization/brand beliefs and goals that may help unite 2 brands.