What brand strategy lessons can we learn from Christmas 2011?

By 21st January 2012blog

Christmas 2011 seemed like many moons ago now.  It proved to be an interesting time for brands.  Given the tough economic climate you’d expect the Lidl, Aldi and Poundland’s of this world to perform well.  At the other extreme premium brands such as Waitrose and Ted Baker have also done rather well.  A little strange in a recession?  Then you have some brands such as Tesco that have not performed so well.


We’ve been asked  to share our thoughts on what appears to have driven successful financial performance. We hope you enjoy them:

Clear and consistent brand positioning:  The more successful brands have positioned their brands clearly and consistently in target segments.  You know what they offer. You can then decide if that’s for you.  Simple.  Apple, Waitrose / John Lewis and Ted Baker are value-based examples.  The value could be design, service, fashion etc. The point is that customers are happy to pay for it.  Conversely, Alid, Lidl and Poundland are all about price. They tell you that. You know and understand that. You can then make your decision.  It’s as clear as day.

Conversely Tesco has tried to be all things to all people.  Their brand meaning has become diluted.  What does Tesco mean? What does Tesco stand for? What do I go to Tesco for? Everything?  It gets confusing.  If you try to be all things to all people you’re in danger of being nothing for anyone.  Tesco’s strategy and Christmas 2011 performance appear to be bear this out.  Brands that have performed have a clear meaning to someone, or more accurately, something to groups of people (segments).

Understanding that value for money and not price drives some segments / markets:  Even in tough trading times certain segments look for value.  Sure, price is important but value (which price is a part of) is key.  Apple and Ted Baker fall into this pot.  Similarly, for Waitrose, a more premium supermarket things keeps on getting better.   Tesco competed on price via range of promotional activities at Christmas.  Their “Big Price Drop” bombed, quite spectacularly. A price-driven strategy and unclear positioning are the culprits. Oh dear.

Social trends:  It’s hard not to notice how during these austere times there is something of an anti-corporation sentiment at play.   Independent niche retailers are performing well.  Local traders tell us how business flourished over Christmas.  The sentiment is that people want to help each other out.  Society is galvanising.  Waitrose tunes into this emotion via local sourcing (where possible) whilst at the other end of the extreme Tesco is developing a reputation as a neighbourhood bully.

Sure, other factors may be at play but we see these as key.

#brand #brandstrategy #positioning

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