One of very powerful motivations of marketing is to be the market leader. There are numerous benefits of being the Number one in the marketplace: premium price, supremacy in distribution channel, bandwagon effect (others buy it and so do I), etc.
Although it is not always the case but mostly, consumers tend to remember only Number one and then Number two brands in a category. These brand are paired and they dominate the segment they are playing: Coke & Pepsi in soft drinks; Iphone & Blackberry in smartphone; CBRE & Savills in real estate and many others.
Not surprisingly, there are numerous brands being tempted to claim themselves as a leading brand. In Vietnam, syndrome of claiming “I am Number one” can be seen frequently in mass media in recent years. Let’s see who they are.
“Megatex – the leading pain”
“Dalovi – the leading brand for stomach treatment”
“Kangaroos is a number one brand of water filer in Vietnam”
Are these brands really leading as they claims? there are many criteria to define if a brand is a market leader or at least among the leading ones in an category. They are top-of-mind brand awareness; brand usage; market share and so on. These brand are unlikely to be so. More than that, the way they communicate their “illusive” positioning is quite flat and ineffective. How do you feel when you has no way but to be exposed to these boastful claims on TV? Immediately, most people tune off to another channel.
A successful brand does not necessarily to be number one in the marketplace. In this case, the first to claim themselves to be Number tow is regarded as a compelling strategy. This is illustrated by a classical case of Avis – a brand in car rent service in America.
In American car rent market, Hertz is the market leader for a long time. Avis entered the market and positioned themselves as a “follower” brand with a sensible slogan “We try harder”. It means Avis wisely claim themselves to be number 2 and thereby it has delicately provoked recognition and secured sympathy from its target audience. Additionally, that is very prudent to relate yourself to number one brand in a category. Whether Avis actually tried harder was not singly significant to their success. Rather, consumers naturally relate Avis to Hertz, which was already number one in their minds. Being number two is also very rewarding in the marketplace and Avis business was very successful due to this powerful brand strategy. In a few years after this classical campaign, Avis repositioned themselves with statement “we will be number one”. Not surprisingly, their business was declined since this positioning went beyond clients’ well-established perception about Avis.
The burning question that may derives from above writings: can a brand claim its number one position when this brand really is the market leader? I think this brand strategy can work and the matter is how it will be conducted. One important thing any marketer should keep in their mind: every single pierce of marketing communication is supposed to be driven by customers’ insights (outside-in) rather your insights (inside-out) since. In other words, you make a message but clients dispose if that message works.
Nguyen Duc Son
Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates