Marketing Idea No. 83 – The Love affair with Labels

We always need to kid ourselves that it’s “quality” that wins the day for us.   

Say that to Pepsi and they will tell you what that kind of thinking did for them. In the Pepsi challenge which took place more than 20 years ago, people overwhelmingly said Pepsi tastes better than Coke. Still a quarter of a century later, how much headway did Pepsi made in Coke territory?  

We need to console ourselves time and again. Let me ask you, how do you know that Arong Panjabi is of better quality than any other panjabi? Have you bought each and every panjabi in the market, wore them and tasted it against your pre-conceived ideas of design, durability, aesthetic appeal etc.? Then how can you possibly tell it’s the best quality?  

In the same manner, how is Lux better than Keya? How is Deshal of better quality then Nipun? How is Forrest Gump better than A Beautiful Mind? How is U2 better than Boyzone? Let me utter the simple truth(s), the whole truth(s) and nothing but the truth(s). 

  1. We don’t buy the products. We buy the labels and the product that comes along with it
  2. Product quality is not important. “Perceived” product quality is the thing. Meaning – no matter how good your product is, if your customer does not think its good, its NO good.
  3.  People don’t buy soft drinks for taste. Ask Coke.

We make an assumption of “quality” which is basically a sum total of our experience, the recommendations we hear, our exposure to media, and an “X” factor which can never be pin-pointed, but which somehow makes us favorable towards certain brands / decisions. So next time you are in line for market share, don’t pray for quality. Don’t ask for quality. Ask for brand building that creates “Perceived” quality.  

Marketing is a battle fought in the mind of the people, not in the market place.

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4 Comments

  1. I do believe in perceived quality. But to be perceived to have “quality”, you must be number 1 at one point or the other in “quality” terms. All the examples we see, Aarong, Coke, Lux – they had proven quality at least over a significant time period.

    Of course it is perception that makes all the difference. But to create perception, you need a lot more than what we say – you need to show that you are what you claim to be. You will be percieved as “quality brand” only if you can create it through tangible quality delivery.

  2. I disagree with Mushfiqur Rahman. Neither of the brands Aarong, Coke, Lux were ever really known to “excel” in terms of quality. It’s the perfect and convenient brand positioning that they had achieved at the right time, in the right target segment. All three brands are more or less first movers in their respective consumer’s mind, they all evoke a certain value in their consumer’s mind.

    A punjabi from Aarong confers the feeling of an elite class and “being Bangladeshi” in the consumer’s mind. Coke is certainly American, and Lux is the first beauty soap for girls. Also they have succeeded in retaining such an image for an extended time, by their top-of-the market pricing strategy and high market visibility, not quality. If quality mattered in the buying decisions of these brands, then men would rather opt for buying punjabi from Bashundhara City (since Aarong punjabi are know to fade easily), Coke buyers would be satisfied for RC Cola (cheaper and more available), and Lux would lose its market share to Aromatic.

    No matter how big a brand is, it will lose its appeal once it loses its visibility. Hence marketing on a continuous basis highlighting its unique proposition is the key to retaining the value of labels that we ogle over.

  3. Well said tania. I couldnt have put it in a better way.

    Lets clarify. The brand / product has to deliver hygiene quality, not best quality. A soap has to clean, a fragrance must smell good, a DVD must run its full length. Thats the hygiene factor. And that quality must be delivered by any brand, otherwise it will lose customer trust. And that is what i think the point of argument of Mushfiq was.

    But what my point was, it does no have to deliver best quality to get the best market share. I mean, who can justify best? What exactly is best? More importantly who has the time to compare the best with the rest?

    None. Thats why the “perception” of being best is what matters, which never depends on actual quality, but on perceived quality.

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