Going beyond rational product benefits…

by Marketing Lowdown on July 18, 2011

In the current world of cluttered advertising, marketers need to do more than communicate their product’s functional benefits. Especially in categories where there is no ‘new news’ or product innovation, NPD (new product development) as marketers would call it.

Picture this scenario: You’re a brand manager of paper towel. The only innovation that has taken place in the last few years has been printed designs and improvements that promote ‘stronger, tougher, thicker and more absorbent’. The other competitor has done the same too. In the consumers’ eyes, both products are synonymous. But does each brand represent the same positioning? How can your paper towel brand win the consumers first preference all the time to garner loyal buyers? How can you set the playing field so it’s less about price and more about the brand?

Now like most marketing questions, there is no clear cut cookie-cutter answer. The answer is always determined by the industry, category, internal capabilities and resources and more generally, external limitations. But the one thing that all outstanding brands do well is tell a story, the brand’s story. A story that takes the consumer on a journey, communicating the brand’s personality and how it relates to and shares the consumers’ values and preferences. So who typically creates the brand story? The marketers no doubt should play a lead role, considering they are closest to the brand and know the brand’s vision, values and strategic competitive advantage. It’s even a good idea to get input from those who use the brand (consumers) and those who help create brand commercial programs (the agencies). It is these relationships with both your consumers and agencies that dictate the strength of your brand story, so be sure they are relationships built on trust, understanding and support.

There are many ways marketers can communicate their brand’s story: Media channels, brand ambassadors, consumer promotions and competitions, POS and the list goes on. Basically all the touch points of interaction between your brand and the consumer. However, the big fear is that your brand is perceived as having split-personality disorder! So by having a solid brand story you can ensure that all touch points communicate the same consistent brand personality. From here you can focus on the emotional benefits of the product – the feeling it gives the consumer when they use your product.

So take the next step to change the playing field so that purchasing behaviour is more about brand and less about the shelf price. Collaborate and create your brand story. Make sure your consumers hear it and understand it. And at every step along the way, make it genuine!


Written by: Natalie Waser (Marketing Industry Specialist here at Marketing Lowdown!)

Natalie is engrossed by marketing at all levels – from critiquing television ads, to assessing in-store promotions to debating PR stunts.

Before commencing her Marketing Graduate role with Kimberly-Clark, the fast moving consumer goods company who invented Kleenex and Huggies brands, she completed various internships in PR, digital media and market research. She is driven by her imagination to test marketing norms and create new brand experiences.

On Marketing Lowdown, Natalie reflects on her experience as a marketing grad to bring you helpful tips to make your transition from university student to full-time worker all that little bit easier.

University: University of Sydney, Sydney
Degree: Bachelor of Economics and Social Science (Marketing and Industrial Relations and Human Resources)
Graduated: April 2011
Works as: Consumer Marketing Graduate at Kimberly-Clark Australia
Can be found on: LinkedIn

You can also read about Natalie on our ‘Meet the Team’ page!


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