July 5, 2013

The Million Pound Question – what would you do?

When it comes to creating a new product for the supermarket shelves, story and identity are central. Well-known brands are often strong enough to encourage buyers to try new items based on a combination of reputation and loyalty and yet for new faces, this is much trickier. Aside from special introductory offers, new brands need to look and feel exciting in order to spark interest and get buyers to branch out. Competing against family favourites that have been established for years, even centuries, is an up-hill struggle. Given the importance of creating dedicated customers, just what percentage of investment should brands looking to enter the market attribute to product and branding respectively?

Walking into any large supermarket for the weekly shop, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to buy. Aisle nine holds my favourite brand of brown sauce, a great example of an item that I keep revisiting week after week because it offers everything I’m looking for in taste, price and packaging. This shopping routine is similar for most consumers, making it easy to see that something has to be pretty special in order to makes us deviate. Picking a new brand is a gamble (particularly if the cost is higher) and buyers have to take a massive leap of faith if they’re to invest in a product for the first time based purely on look and feel.

Investment into branding and packaging design is an obvious must in order to make your product stand out in the first instance. If it doesn’t have visual appeal, then it certainly won’t make it past stage one – being picked up from the shelf for a closer look – let alone put in the basket, purchased and tasted. Then again, the product can look absolutely fantastic but if too little investment has been put into developing the taste and quality, it will never be bought again. Additionally, a good-looking but poor-tasting product can create resentment from shoppers who feel cheated. Is a straight 50/50 split spread between branding and product the solution? Or is there more to it than that? A great tasting family-run range of French pastries putting all of its capital into producing locally sourced ingredients may well do so at the cost of its branding, lying untouched on the store shelf for days as a result.

The only exception to the whole debate perhaps lies with produce that is more or less accepted as standard across the board. Pasta sauces are a prime example of items that shoppers have limited loyalty towards, instead scouring what’s on offer and buying at the cheapest possible price. In these instances, successfully cultivating a new brand can be even more difficult, particularly if it’s a luxury product that is that bit more expensive.

So I leave you with this. If you had a million pounds to invest into a brand, what percentage of investment would you place on the product versus the branding? Tweet @ahoystudio to tell us what you think!

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Lack of domain availability forcing new ventures to rethink brand names