Improvement in private label products, economic climate, private label product claims and a general erosion of brand equity had led consumers to reconsider their purchase behaviour – with many trading down to cheaper alternatives.
Our client therefore needed to understand the level of threat, and how to counter it through both product optimization (if necessary) and targeted communication strategies.
We incorporated Brandphonics® profiling into blind product testing – to understand the relative performance of the private label versus one of our client’s hero brands. This showed that, based on food performance alone, the branded product generated stronger liking scores and was considered ‘closer to ideal’ across key product attributes. Being ‘closer to ideal’, created an advantage for the branded product in terms of ‘indulgence’ and ‘treating’ - intrinsically important to the brand’s positioning – which had to be maintained.
Further conceptual profiling of the foods (tested blind) showed that while the clients’ brand and the private label competitor had very similar emotional profiles, there was one area in which the brand had a clear advantage; ‘energetic’. This was cued by several subtle sensory elements in the product’s delivery - a potential source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Overall, the research indicated that there was little our client could do to optimize the product itself – performance was high. However, any minor tweaks to the private label product formulation could easily close the blind product performance gap.
The decision was made to drive higher brand equity and commitment through a targeted communications strategy designed to play up key equities associated with the product.
Leveraging positive ‘energetic’ personality traits via communications has helped maintain distance over the private label product and is contributing to building a stronger, more sustainable advantage going forward.