10 Things Brands Can't Take For Granted
New trends, evolving customer expectations, unexpected competitor moves and many other endless possibilities keep on creating new challenges for marketers and new perceptions about their brands. Let's have a look at a few important factors that marketers can't take for granted while managing their brands in dynamic market conditions
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In today's world, market is constantly changing. Same marketing strategy and execution can't give similar result in two different time frames. New trends, evolving customer expectations, unexpected competitor moves and many other endless possibilities keep on creating new challenges for marketers and new perceptions about their brands. Let's have a look at a few important factors that marketers can't take for granted while managing their brands in dynamic market conditions:
1. Financial Resources: Marketers need money so that their brands could capture both mindshare and market share. If a category is new, money is required to educate the market and if a category is old, then money is required to develop brand recognition among established competitors. Some time back, flushed with capital, online firms such as Housing, Jabong etc. dominated the advertising space on television, newspapers and outdoor media. Many of highly funded startups are now running out of money and have either closed shops or have merged themselves with other players.
2. Window of Opportunity: In the fast changing environment, window of opportunity opens and closes quickly. Demonetization and digital payments appeared as a big opportunity for many mobile wallet companies in India. As compared to other brands, Paytm picked on the opportunity and grew its mindshare and market share through presence of its brand messages at various point of sales, advertisements, CEO's speeches and so on. In this opportunity window, Paytm created huge brand image gap between itself and other leading players.
3. Technology Infrastructure: In today's world technology plays a key role in facilitating brand experience. Imagine if taxi App doesn't respond when you need taxi urgently or when payment system doesn't send you OTP password when you have to complete your ecommerce purchase. In these kind of scenarios, perception about the brand gets negatively impacted. As one of the major examples, in 2014, during Big Billion Day, Flipkart's servers gave away to the huge traffic and services were disrupted for a short period. This created both angry customers and bad PR for the company.
4. Employees' Actions: Its people play a very important role behind success of brands and creating or damaging its reputation. Everyone's actions from CEO to on ground workers matter. Vijay Mallya's loan default has negatively impacted image of Kingfisher brand and due to negligence of Amazon staff, sale of Indian flag-themed doormats and flip flops with Mahatma Gandhi's face have negatively impacted Amazon's image.
5. Partners' Contribution: Brands credibility often depends on quality material from their suppliers and partners. In 2014, Husi Food, owned by OSI Group supplied expired beef and chicken to McDonald's and KFC in China. This incidence affected consumer confidence, and impacted brands' usage and image.
6. Competitors' Moves: Actions of competitors can turn a successful product into failure. Blackberry was one of the most prominent smartphone brands in the world but new entrants Apple iPhone and Google Android based smartphones acted as major cause of fall of Blackberry.
7. Influencers' Word of Mouth: Influencers such as financial analysts, journalists, venture capitalists, consultants, retailers, distributors etc. play prominent role in creating perceptions about a company and its brands. Their word of mouth can make or break the reputations of brands in customers' mind. In one of his recent interviews, Indian-American investor and entrepreneur Kanwal Rekhi mentioned Flipkart as the biggest and most foolish Indian startup. His interview video has been shared thousands of time on social media and has impacted image of Flipkart.
8. Customers' Actions: Through its customers, a company creates its association and reference base. By choosing its customers carefully, a company can manage its image.
PricewaterhouseCoopers' India firm was the auditor of Satyam. All over the world, media called Satyam fraud as "India's Enron". Due to scandal with one of the prominent customers - Satyam, PwC's reputation and business in India faced negative impact.
9. Social Trends: Social trends impact customers' behavior and choices of products and services. Today's customers are heavy users of internet and mobile devices. Although more Indians are reading books today and many new books are getting published, bookshops in various cities are shutting down one after the other. The key reason behind this trend is customers are preferring to order books online or read them on e-readers such as Kindle. Similarly, though more people are taking pictures, but they are using smartphones instead of cameras for taking pictures leading to impact on sales and profits of camera brands.
10. Government Regulations: As per government regulations, marketing departments should emphasize only truthful features or benefits of company products in their advertising campaigns. Violations of these regulations can lead to stiff financial penalties. For example, recently a Haridwar court has fined Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurveda for misleading advertisements and misbranding.
The environment in which brands exist is not static, its keep on changing as per actions of internal and external stakeholders. A brand being highly credible one day can lose its credibility next day due to reasons uncontrollable by marketers. Marketers have to be constantly aware and always keep in mind that their brands' image and success are fragile.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.