The first always lasts long. So as the first love. First love may not be perfect as French writer Bernard Shaw said “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity”. And thought first love mostly ends with tears, the innocent it is always a of a great memory.
It’s hard to forget the first. So as the first brand although it may not be better than the later. Al Ries has showed that “Marketing is the battle in your mind”. La Vie is the first bottled mineral water brand. La Vie is nothing better than Aquafina or Thach Bich in terms of quality. Its only advantage is is the first brand in mineral water category. When a guy asks for a La Vie, he just wants to order a bottled mineral water. La Vie has become the general name for a whole product category.
Not every first love comes to a happy wedding. So as a first brand. Many first brands appeared in the market and silently disappeared then.
In 2004, Tan Hiep Phat Group invested in 20 billion dollar for Laser premium bottled draught beer. Nearly 2 million dollar has been spent to advertise Laser as “the first bottled draught beer in Vietnam”. After one year, Laser disappeared in the market. The failure was predictable: it was too early to introduce premium bottled draught beer in a market where most beer drinkers associated draught beer with cheap beer in street bistros. In addition, Laser was set at high price even in comparison with international premium beer brands (bottled and canned beer) such as Heineken or Tiger.
In recent years, there has been several canned coffee brands launched in Vietnam’s market. It’s Birdy (by Ajinomoto, 2008), Cafe Vip (by tan Hiep Phat, 2009) and Nestle canned coffee (2009). Although they are still alive, they have continuously struggled with market challenges from Vietnamese traditional coffee drinking.
Some new products are of a breakthrough concepts. But if they lack of “relevance” and “competitive difference” against existing products, they are about to fail. Consumers are often curious at new things but they are not willing to greet them. In such an era of blooming information, human minds only accept new product concepts which are relevant to what is going on in their mind. Customers tend to welcome “the first” but require the “familiarity” and “usefulness” instead of such new and inconvenient products.
People are passionate for first love without any bias because there is no choice for first love. First brand is not such lucky because customers will consider “the first” carefully since they actually have many other options.
Trung Nguyen plans to penetrate American market long time ago. In the media battle field, Trung Nguyen has been quite successful as the first noisily “attack” giant Starbucks with a series of controversial statement by Dang Le Nguyen Vu. Not only in domestic press, Trung Nguyen story also appeared on American newspapers. Mr. Vu said that “Starbucks is losing its identity. Their empire is going to an end and we would be the next”. American could treat it as a war declaration than the first love confession.
Noisy words may easily attract public attention. But only unique and creative stories are likely to win customer’s hearts. Phin Deli coffee is a good example.
“All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and Enjoying… coffee. Today, we officially introduce “Vietnamese Coffee Declaration” on Buford town owned by Vietnamese. And today, we also officially change the name of 147-year-old Buford town to PhinDeli town”.
Here’s the quotation from “Vietnamese coffee declaration in the U.S” of Phin Deli. Its ambition is quite similar to … Trung Nguyen but in a more humorous and unique way by imitating American Independence Declaration. Phin Deli has promoted a great brand story: a Vietnamese entrepreneur, Pham Dinh Nguyen, tightly won in Buford town auction. Now, he changed the town name to Phin Deli with the ambition of bringing Vietnamese coffee to American market. Reuters wrote as “Revitalize one-citizen town in Wyoming into Vietnamese coffee center”.
Despite being a late comer, Phin Deli seemed to introduce itself as the “first lover” of the U.S.
First love is always the first while first brand will not surely become the first of customers. A great story or a sweet confession is needed to help a new brand acquire the first position in the customer’s minds.
And unlike most first love, when gaining success, a first brand normally comes to a … wedding. When customers fall in love with a certain brand for the first time, they will stay loyal, even forever.
Nguyen Duc Son
Richard Moore Associates