Brand Strategy / Marketing Strategy

My indeed…


How do you make a lower tier brand premium? Evidently, the answer is to add ‘my’ to the front of it.

That’s what Costcutter revealed recently. Fair play to the company for doing its due diligence on customer demographics and segmentation, at least they were aware that they didn’t really know much about who was using the stores and took steps to fix it.

But myCostcutter? Could that be a premium brand?

No. Not in the slightest.

Let me split this into two distinct elements: the name and what makes a premium brand, well, premium.

The Name

myCostcutter. What the brand is trying to do here is to integrate itself with its users by making them feel that the brand is working hard for them.

The lack of spacing and capitalisation annoys me. It’s all very i. As in iPhone. iPad. iDuck and so on.

It’s not new and it certainly isn’t fresh.

Then there’s the Costcutter bit. Does that sound like a premium brand?

“I’m just popping to Costcutter to get some of their premium range tomatoes.”

Call me a snob, but they don’t sound all that enticing. Tesco Finest Tomatoes, on the other hand, sound a bit better (even if they all probably came from the same vine).

What makes a brand ‘premium’?

There’s a lot out there to answer this question, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. However, some of the key take aways are:

Story – premium brands (think fashion houses, top end alcohol brands, Apple etc) have a story to tell. They’ve been around for a while or have something so compelling to say that you can’t but help but fall in with their narrative.

Presence – if you carry an iPhone, everyone knows you like Apple. A few years ago, you’d have been praised as an early adopter. If you carry a Gucci handbag, sport a Calvin Klein jacket or zip about in an Aston, you’re displaying your wealth and status to the masses. Premium brands have presence visually and/or contextually – and that presence ties in with their story.

Non-monetary value – premium brands are premium because they allow you to display wealth/status/exclusivity etc, most often through price point. They add something to your life in the way that an identical Primark version doesn’t. Their story and presence drive up their premium status.

NOTE – A brand doesn’t have to be expensive to be ‘premium’, but price point is often a factor.

What about the competition?

Tesco have an enormous presence and cater to a vast market from ‘value’ to ‘premium’ through their range lines. Same with Sainsbury’s. The Co-Operative straddle the different boundaries too.

M&S unashamedly go after the premium sector.

Is there space for a retailer hoping to be premium still marketing themselves as Costcutter?

I don’t think so.

If it were me…

If I was running the operation, I would turn it on its head.

The brand are also introducing a non-branded store to cater for the lower end of the market (lower than what, I have to ask? Londis? That’s pretty low anyway and where the core Costcutter brand will be. I didn’t realise that there was anything lower in the pecking order).

If it were me, I would drop ‘Costcutter’ down to the value end of the market, have ‘myCostcutter’ as the middle segment and develop something new and not Costcutter-y at all for the premium end.

Perhaps with a name located in the ‘premium’, ‘fine’ or ‘best’ spaces.

Alternatively, I would reimagine the entire brand range and look to emulate the way that Tesco, Sainsbury’s and The Co-Operative have managed their stable, while still giving it a Costcutter slant.

After all, those are three of the biggest supermarkets in the UK, so they must be doing something right?

Personally, I think it will take a minor miracle for Costcutter’s three-way division to be anything other than an expensive branding exercise. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in a few years, the three brands are reintegrated to provide a much tighter offering, dooming this exercise to failure.

Time, as always, will tell…

The image on this post has been used under Creative Commons on Flickr, taken by Lars Plougmann.

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