Strategic management assignment help: Strategic brand management
The growth of any business largely depends on an effective “Strategic Brand Management”. A strategically planed, properly implemented and aggressively monitored branding initiative helps a company in properly positioning of its product and strengthening its bottom line. This report explains the importance of proper positioning of product, achieving consumer satisfaction and creating brand value with the help of the example of “The Body Shop”.
Driven by the need to nourish her two daughters and motivated by the different methods that were followed in different cultures for skin and hair care through natural ingredients; Anita Roddick opened the first Body Shop store in 1976 in Brighton. Near about 25 natural body products were offered by her in the first store. Almost after twenty years, one-thousandth store of the Body Shop was opened in Mexico. Currently, the Body Shop is operational in more than 50 countries. The company retails skin and body care products of high quality in its 2000 outlets globally. The company enjoys a market base of people who speak more than 25 different languages and are living in 12 different time zones. According to Clark (2001), the Body Shop has created a brand for itself with a difference. The company has differentiated itself from the other cosmetic brands by putting an emphasis on the values which company adopts. In addition they have created an image for their brand which reflects their distinctive affiliation with those values. The association of the brand with the moral practices and regards towards environment friendly world makes it more famous and popular among consumers. The products of the company are made out of natural ingredients and animal are never used to test the same. These brand values have been carefully highlighted in packaging and the merchandising of the products of the Body Shop. For example, refillable packs and recycled /recyclable papers are used by the company. Though the decision regarding the use of refillable packs was taken in order to bring down the price of the products but it was used as an branding element by the company to reinforce its brand positioning. In addition, the brand is very particular and careful in terms of the messages that are being displayed in its shops and other POP merchandises. Immaculate, effervescent and educative are some of the adjectives which can be associated with these messages. All these elements have helped the Body Shop to evolve as a cosmetic brand with a difference. Mathew (1999) claims that the consumer praises the Body Shop for the ethical values it follows. According to new survey by brand consultancy Added Value even after the acquisition by the global beauty group L’Oreal, the brand still remains the most trustworthy and honest brand in the minds of consumers.
This is the power of branding, which helps a company in creating a loyal customer force which not only help a company in exploring new markets, fight competition but also helps in standing out of the crowd and ensuring continuous profitability.
2. Strategic Brand Management
In a market there are several different companies which offer innumerable products and services. Over a period of time, through marketing strategies implemented by companies and their emphatic performance, these products and services develop an identity and this identity is referred to as “brand”. Then there comes a stage, where brand becomes synonym for a product; for example – Xerox – photocopy, Nestea – iced tea, Coke – cold drink etc. This process of branding a product and then turning a brand into a product is referred as “strategic brand management”. Proper positioning of brand is one of the most important task under strategic brand management. A brand which is well positioned is very helpful in addressing prominent benefits to consumer in distinctive and mesmeric manner. This also help a company to involve customers emotionally with the brand. This ultimately provides a platform to a company for future growth. In order to position a brand properly it is very essential to understand the functional, emotional, experiential and self-expressive benefits that consumer is looking for in a brand.
Following are the key constitutive which define a brand:
- Target customer – the audience to whom the brand is created to attract primarily
- Essence of brand – the “heart and soul” of the brand
- Brand promise – a promise of relevant differentiating benefits
- Brand personality – adjectives that describe the brand as if it were a person
3. The Body Shop –The Brand
The Body Shop has created a brand for itself with a difference. The company has differentiated itself from the other cosmetic brands by putting an emphasis on the values which company adopts. In addition they have created an image for their brand which reflects their distinctive affiliation with those values.
The association of the brand with the moral practices and regards towards environment friendly world makes it more famous and popular among consumers. The products of the company are made out of natural ingredients and animal are never used to test the same. These brand values have been carefully highlighted in packaging and the merchandising of the products of the Body Shop. For example, refillable packs and recycled /recyclable papers are used by the company. Though the decision regarding the use of refillable packs was taken in order to bring down the price of the products but it was used as an branding element by the company to reinforce its brand positioning. In addition, the brand is very particular and careful in terms of the messages that are being displayed in its shops and other POP merchandises. Immaculate, effervescent and educative are some of the adjectives which can be associated with these messages. All these elements have helped the Body Shop to evolve as a cosmetic brand with a difference.
The brand is often termed as an extension of the its founder “Anita Roddick”, who is an enthusiastic environmentalist and naturalist. Her activities and association for the nature have proved to be a great support for the brand. Moreover, while other cosmetic brand talks about beauty and fairness, Body Shop communicate things of higher level. The brand enjoys a position where consumer associate honesty with its products.
4. The brand characteristics of the Body Shop
Following are the key characteristics of the brand “The Body Shop”:
The brand operates on the basis of three key values, they are – treat people in the right manner, fair trade practice and protection of the planet. The ingredients from which maximum of their products are derived are natural and animals are never used to test the same.
People buy the body shop products because they love what company is offering them. They trust the brand and believe in them. Charity based activities of Anita is an important attraction for people to get themselves associated with the body shop but ultimately it is the product of the company which brings them back to the brand.
Principles which a company follows, performance of the products and price of the products are key three elements these days which impact the buying decision of the consumer. The body shop brand has been successful in winning the trust of the people and they consider them honest and fair in their practices. This has led to great degree of loyalty among consumers towards the brand.
The marketing methods used by company also reflects its values (Maclaren, 1996). Excessively thin or young models are never a part of the promotional activities of the body shop. They don’t believe in portraying an impossibly air-brushed face. The wordings used by the brand are very carefully selected and used so that it does not bring insecurities in the minds of consumers. Their products always talk about positive attitude and self esteem. The brand never makes any false promises and claims to do something which is impossible.
5. Customer Satisfaction and The Body Shop
The image that the company has created for itself is that of a of a green Eco-friendly cosmetics company which sells natural products which does not impact environment negatively and show its customers a way that lead to natural lifestyle.
At present time people look forward for products which brings a difference to them as well as the world at large. The Body Shop put a great emphasis on identifying a formulations and ingredients which makes people feel good, look good and do good and this provides great deal of satisfaction to consumers as they believe that the products which they are using is environmental friendly and are not bringing any harm to the nature and upgrading their personality as well.
These days there has been a lot of emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint in every part of the world. The body shop is constantly working towards reducing the usage of packaging material. In fact in case of certain products they do not use packing material at all and for all those where packing material is used they use recycled or sustainable components wherever that’s technically possible. This provide satisfaction in the minds of people that the packaging material of the product which they are using is not going to harm the environment.
The Body Shop foundation is always rigorous while making investments in the community. Every project has to deliver demonstrable benefits, which can be monitored, measured, and evaluated at the end of the scheme. The Foundation deliberately concentrates on grass-roots groups, because they believe that these people are best placed to make a real and lasting difference at local level.
6. Brand Community
6.1. What is a Brand Community?
A brand community is a group of self-selected enduring people who share common values, standards and represent a common culture. Companies attract their truehearted and ardent fans or consumers for whom their brand is not only a must have in their day to day life but they also communicate benefit of the brand to those who have similar taste but are not aware about that brand. The conversation and interaction among these people give rise to a community which is referred as brand community.
6.2. Brand Community and The Body Shop
The Body Shop can use the concept of brand community for the promotion of its products through word of mouth. They can formulate strategies where in a group of individuals can be targeted who have common interest. For example teenage girls who love experimenting to make their skin and looks better and better every day. By doing so they will be focused on a specific audience and will be able to attract the specific consumers. The community can be given a very specific name for example “VIVA” and the brand should be mentioned in a very limited manner. They should be given flexibility to develop their unique identity. This will help the brand to open up their potential audience not just to their audience, but the audience of their competitors too. The brand can cash its goodwill also by providing live interaction with the experts of the Body Shop and an opportunity to get themselves featured on the poster of the brand. This will help the brand in gaining popularity among various specific audience without incurring much of promotional cost.
7. Brand Equity
7.1. What is Brand Equity?
In the marketing industry, the phrase “Brand Equity” is used to describe the importance and value of a brand name which hold a great reputation in the market. According to many marketing experts, a product which has a well known brand name enjoys higher acceptability among consumers as the consumer believe that they are better than the products which has less known brand name. The idea behind the concept of brand equity is that a more popular brand name can help a company in generating higher cash flows. Sometimes brand equity is also referred as “Brand Value”. According to some market researchers, brand equity can bring a substantial rise in the financial value of a brand and proves to be the most worthful asset for a company. There are various elements which are included while valuing brand equity of a company, some of these elements are: changing market share, profit margins, consumer recognition of logos and other visual elements, brand language associations made by consumers, consumers’ perceptions of quality and other relevant brand values.
7.2. Building Brand Equity at The Body Shop
Driven by the need to nourish her two daughters and motivated by the different methods that were followed in different cultures for skin and hair care through natural ingredients; Anita Roddick opened the first Body Shop store in 1976 in Brighton.Near about 25 natural body products were offered by her in the first store. Almost after twenty years, one-thousandth store of the Body Shop was opened in Mexico. Currently, the Body Shop is operational in 45 countries.
Product, packaging and promotion are the most important factors which has helped the Body Shop in creating its brand equity.
Products – The product profile of the Body Shop includes more than 400 body care products and approximately 500 sundry items. They also provide customized care products as per the requirements and preferences of their customers. Natural elements such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and the herbs are the main ingredients used in their products. Perfume bar that can be used for scenting oils and lotions are provided at every store without charging anything extra for the same. Services like making gift baskets, free makeovers and foot and hand massages are also provided at their stores.
Packaging – The Body Shop has kept the packaging of their products very simple and sober. They do not believe in excessive packaging. As a part of the company’s overall environmental programs, they prefer refilling and recycling of bottles. But with a view of giving new dimensions and recognition to their brand they have proliferated some of their products and has given them a more subtle and polished look. They have also introduced eight sub-brands where the Body Shop name and logo has been given less significance. Another packaging strategy that is followed by the body shop is that they provide testers for their lotions and perfumes so that customers can smell and compare these lotions and perfumes before taking any buying decision.
Promotion- The Body Shop has never supported the idea of promoting their products. They just believe in informing people and provide information about all their products on their internet site. Excessively thin or young models are never a part of the promotional activities of the body shop. They don’t believe in portraying an impossibly air-brushed face. The wordings used by the brand are very carefully selected and used so that it does not bring insecurities in the minds of consumers. Their products always talk about positive attitude and self esteem. The brand never makes any false promises and claims to do something which is impossible.
In the year 2011, the Body shop has decided to prepare itself for the future. The brand is all set to allure the new generation with its value based strategies, fair trade practices to serve community in which it operates and methods of producing products which are environment friendly in nature. The Body Shop has been successful in blending novelty, sensitivity and performance in its products.
Following are some of the interesting facts about the products of the Body Shop which enhances its brand equity:
- The Body Shop is the first brand in the beauty sector which has introduced the concept of “Fair Trade”. Through its renowned and distinctive Community Fair Trade programme and their expertness they have created a special position in the minds of the consumers. More than 200 products that the body shop has launched under their main as well as sub brands contains six high quality natural elements like aloe vera, cocoa, olives, sesame, soya and sugar as their key ingredients.
- The Body Shop has combined ethical commitments with creative thinking in its new makeup collection. This collection has become an essential part of life of almost every female. The style of the product and the designing of the packaging which follows the theme of eco-sustainability which has been done by the students of London College of Fashion makes these products a stand out one.
- The Body Shop’s shower gel range “Earth Lovers™” is soap sulphates and colorants free product. The formula used in this product is based purely on herb and fruit extracts and Guatemalan Community Fair Trade aloe vera. Thus the product has been positioned as a product which respects both sensitive skin and the aquatic ecosystem.
- The intensified efforts of the Body Shop like the consumer rally which support the movement “Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People” campaign. The brand hit the headlines by presenting the United Nations with one of the largest petitions ever compiled: seven million signatures called on governments to take practical steps. To date, 14 countries have committed themselves to taking action.
- The brand presented the largest petitions which has been ever compiled in the history to the United Nations. The petitions was signed by approximately seven million people and calls for a practical step to be taken by the government against the sex trafficking. This movement has led to a commitment by the government of fourteen countries to take some strict action.
The strategy that The Body Shop has followed to create its brand equity is quite simple yet very unexcelled in nature. They have put an emphasis on delivering novel and innovatory products by following the ethical value of planet protection, community fair trade, against animal testing, defend human rights, and activate self esteem. These values are Body Shop’s business strategy and core competencies.
This assignment has helped me in understanding the key concepts related to Branding like strategic brand management, product positioning, customer satisfaction, brand equity etc. Through this assignment I have realized how important branding is as a springboard that can thrust business forward, and give it a competitive edge. A well-defined and strong brand will drive sales, build customer loyalty, create brand value, and most of all, it will be the catalyst for business growth, as consumers will be motivated to buy your product. A brand is usually associated with the logo, sign, name, or other image that consumers associate with your company and product. But in fact, brand also incorporates other factors, and encompasses those unique characteristics that distinguish your product, and sets it apart from the competition. It also relates to the quality of your product, the way you do business, and how you are perceived by others. Business branding is therefore important to every business regardless of the size, because it communicates information about your business and product to the market. It will influence the cost of your product, packaging, marketing and advertising strategies, distribution channels, and more. Branding is all about establishing an identity, and becoming recognized for it.
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