In marketing, there is a rule for brands which are not market leaders: To be successful, relate your brand name to the market leader.
Why has “Trung Nguyen” been under in the spotlight of media recently? Because of good coffee or the proud of Vietnamese goods? The main reason is not derived from Trung Nguyen-unrelated information: Starbucks has opened the first cafe Vietnam. The statement of Trung Nguyen owner became hot topic also because he mentioned the world No.1 coffee brand (“Starbucks does not sell coffee but coffee-flavoured sugar water”).
This is the way brands in world do and success has been evidenced.
Avis did wisely in their branding
In American car rent market, Hertz was 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 claimed 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.
7Up did creatively
In 1968, 7Up brand became a typically successful lesson how to position a brand sticking it image to the leader with “There is no coke like the uncola” campaign. This positioning strategy is resulted from the market research showing when customers drink 7Up they said “It’s so cool, unlike Cola.”
Regarding brand positioning strategy, leadership-related message is a wise direction. When “relying” on giants like Coca & Pepsi, 7Up did not spend much time and money to raise brand awareness (which is very costly). More important, they made use of this opportunity to position itself as non-carbonated beverage – contrast to Coke and Pepsi. Thanks to this campaign, 7Up quickly held the 3rd position in the U.S beverage market.
Manchester City – Good wine needs no bush
Talking to English football, people often talk about the famous Manchester United of Sir Alex Ferguson. The absolute domination of Red Devil has led to the “famousness” of their competitors: sometimes Arsenal, sometime Liverpool or Chelsea.
However, since the season 2011 – 2012, the biggest follower of Man United is its same-city club Manchester City. After the heavy investment of the Arab billionaire, Manchester City has changed its life and become the main counterpoise of the neighbour Man United. Perhaps, Man City would not be in such a spotlight if they had not been the “noisy neighbour” of man United – the most valuable and favorite brand in the world.
In terms of communications,Man City seems to have no activity like what Avis and 7Up did. Their challenge to the championship of Man United is enough to PR their brand name.
What is the opportunity for Trung Nguyen?
As mentioned above, the presence of Starbucks is a challenge but also opportunity for Trung Nguyen to re-position its competitive position.
Before jumping into the media noise (like their recent statements), the first strategic question that Trung Nguyen should make clear is: In Vietnam market, they determined to be the leader (No.1) or the challenger (No.2 or No.3).
Despite following any competitive strategy, Trung Nguyen should be consistent in communication message. Actually, consumers are confused with their different messages: “It can only be Trung Nguyen”, “Real coffee for real people”, “Creativeness inspiration” or “Domestic domination, world conquer”?
Vietnamese consumers are willing to favour Vietnamese brands. But they should understand the core value of every domestic brand.
It’s good to be full of energy, but please do not make too many “love confession”. Remember Trung Nguyen, just one communications message only!
Nguyen Duc Son
Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates