For many of us working closely with clients on a day to day basis, receiving a new brief can cause a flurry of activity and excitement.

Although many of the briefs we receive are expertly written with deep insight into the business, market and the challenges ahead, in other instances a brief doesn’t necessarily specify the root of the problem.

In such cases, a detective-like process starts, defining the real problem the brief is aiming to solve.

Getting to the root of the problem

Most often, the first step in determining where the problem lies is deciding whether it is a category, brand, product or cultural problem.

For example, has the category that your product is in grown too crowded? Is your brand or product no longer seen as a popular choice in what used to be your core target group? Is your marketing falling flat because it's failing to tap into the zeitgeist?

All of the problems mentioned above could be tackled through campaigns that utilise the sales trigger ‘Brand Budgeting’. This refers to the ‘mental accounting’ that people engage in for purchases of different product categories.

For instance, let’s say the tide has turned and your customers are no longer purchasing your previously well-performing product. With the right strategy and creative solution, it could be reframed to fill a previously unknown gap in your category, thereby altering the perception of the brand.

In the long run this could also start changing the spending behaviour of your customers as well.  

Creating your own category

Seen as both a challenger and threat to the wider hotel industry, for many Airbnb has changed the way we consider travel. From typically staying at hotels in tourist-heavy areas, travellers are increasingly opening their eyes to new territories and we now see a growing urge for authentic, local experiences.

For many however, Airbnb still remains interchangeable with both hotels and short-term holiday apartment rentals. To fully set the brand aside from the alternatives, Airbnb has recently expanded their service offering to include local experiences arranged by hosts.

Through using ‘Brand Budgeting’, Airbnb has managed to create its own category, providing a level of service not found in the rest of the travel accommodation industry. Not only does this increase the likelihood of building lasting brand preference, it also helps establish a lasting purchase behaviour.

Since you can now book both your accommodation and things to experience in one go, it becomes okay for customers to attribute a larger slice of their travel budget to booking with Airbnb. 

airbnb

Justifying your price premium

Another brand that’s managed to change not only its own perception but also helped transform its entire category is Starbucks.

With such a long history of predominantly drinking tea, it was only twenty years ago that the UK’s consumption of coffee was more or less limited to the instant, freeze-dried kind.

With the emergence of Starbucks and its competitors alike, the UK consumer's perception of coffee has shifted from being just another beverage into a daily necessity.

They’ve achieved this by reframing its products as an affordable, daily indulgence. We now find ourselves being a coffee loving nation having adopted a whole repertoire of coffee-based beverages and the pub slowly being replaced by the coffee shop as our primary social venue. 

In summary

‘Brand Budgeting’ can be a powerful tool used to answer challenges facing your brand, but it is crucial to first identify whether it’s a category, brand, product or cultural problem.

Without starting with the problem at hand and knowing in which context your brands needs to be reframed, any attempt at a campaign runs the risk of falling flat.

With enough insight into your brand, market and consumer however, using ‘Brand Budgeting’ as part of your campaigns can help reframe an entire brand and identify new category opportunities for your product.   

To find out more about this Brand Commerce model and how behavioural science can help drive sales and turn your brand around, see my previous articles on how to navigate through online indecision, how to use your brand’s ‘One Key Thing’ to stand apart from the competition and how consumer trial can help build brand preference.

Michael Sandstrom

Published 9 June, 2017 by Michael Sandstrom

Michael Sandstrom was formerly a Strategic Planner at KHWS, the Brand Commerce agency, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.

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