From collaborations to innovative marketing techniques, Red Points outlines some quick ways of refreshing a tired product line.
It sounds simple, but a great product refresh technique can be updating the appearance of the product and its packaging to boost a product’s success. Studies have consistently shown how product packaging affects buying decisions, by communicating a brand’s personality as well as by providing instagram-worthy design detail. Consumers openly care how a product is packaged, as seen in the outrage at Starbucks’ green holiday cup design as well as in the 2% rise in Coke sales following the successful ‘Share a Coke’ campaign that saw random first names printed on the outside of bottles and cans.
Even a small change such as a new colour could have an impact on a product’s success. Apple clearly thought so, with 1998’s shift away from a fun rainbow-striped logo to a more professional monochromatic palette. If you’re considering a colour change, you should consider the connotations of the colour, as different colours are related to different emotions and concepts. You could also go for a seasonal colour, or a colour that’s currently ‘on trend’ to show that your brand is current with the times. To check which colour schemes are trending, take a look at Pantone’s Colour Forecasting tool which offers ‘colour intelligence’ on all the latest hues.
Red Bull has shown how collaborations can turn a brand from a business into a lifestyle brand that consumers know and care about. Collaborations can involve multiple stages of production, from refining products to producing new ones. Brand collaborations can also work on a smaller scale, such as a co-held event. When choosing a brand to work with it is prudent to aim for mutual benefit rather than merely the most profitable deal, to ensure that the partnership receives a positive response. In connecting with a brand, use industry networking events to find a brand suitable for collaboration, as well as through sites that connect professionals such as LinkedIn.
The brand you work with can challenge your perceived brand value - like McDonald’s did by partnering with London 2012 - or can work to strengthen the values central to your brand - as seen with Apple and Nike’s collaboration, or H&M’s many collections with designers such as Versace, Alexander Wang and Balmain. These collaborations in particular enjoyed success, by sparking media interest with reports of fans camping outside stores for days hoping to snag the most exclusive apparel. And of course nobody can forget the success that Adidas have enjoyed since partnering with Kanye West to produce YEEZY sneakers, whose sought-after success has resulted in a plethora of counterfeit YEEZYs.
Consider refreshing any printed materials that come with products. Don’t be afraid to be a little creative and informal in your style; learn from the success of Innocent Smoothies, who are known for their fun, comical copywriting on packaging and written content. The marketing strategy is an attempt to refine and express brand identity as opposed to directly affecting sales, in an effort to cultivate a loyal customer base.
In a changing landscape, this type of atypical marketing makes sense, especially given the current trend for ‘truthful consumerism’ following 2016’s explosion of fake news and ‘post-truth’ politics. The concept is readily illustrated by Oasis’ summer 2015 campaign that boldly told consumers ‘You’re thirsty. We’ve got sales targets’. If a little before its time, the move nevertheless attracted attention and characterised the Oasis brand as daring, honest and fun.
Experimenting with promotion and marketing techniques is a great way to refresh your product and change the perception of your brand or marketed demographic, as well as to push a specific product. Innovation is key in promotion, particularly with the changing digital landscape. Traditional mass-advertising methods are rendered extraneous where social sharing platforms can be utilised as a cheap, organic means of marketing with potentially enormous profits.
Get social with a social media campaign, like asking people to take selfies with a product under a hashtag. Particularly effective in a competition, this method will boost organic growth whilst providing intelligence on which types of consumers are keen to share your product and interact with your brand. Go viral with a low-budget video as Dollar Shave Club did in 2012, a lighthearted stunt that grew the business into a billion-dollar acquisition. Taking steps to humanise your brand will yield results in the form of a loyal, cultivated customer base, and can be quickly achieved with the customisation of just a single product or promotion.
Consumer confusion is driven by poor marketing, and it’s as simple as that. Make sure that each of your products has a clearly-defined customer and purpose, and that this is well-communicated. In line with the ‘truthful consumerism’ trend, this will ensure that consumers know if your products are beneficial and of value to them, so you can aim at and delight specific demographics. Making new creative names for your products could also be a part of your product refresh strategy, as well as adding a personalised edge to your brand.
Once you have cultivated a specific demographic with a single product, you can expand into other markets with small, simple changes - otherwise known as the Coke Zero effect. Where Diet Coke holds a traditionally feminine market, Coke Zero, which launched in 2005, has been almost exclusively targeted at young males, hailed as a ‘calorie free’ rather than a ‘diet’ drink. The beverage has been intentionally marketed at sports games and in films like the James Bond and Mission Impossible series’, leading to its UK nickname ‘Bloke Coke’. Leaving a product line open to expansion is key to nurturing future growth and opportunity, and should not be overlooked when refining a product.
These small changes evidentially yield lucrative results, and work by emphasising brand appeal and cultivation of loyal customers. Brand equity is of the utmost importance in today’s hyper-competitive environment, and companies around the globe are beginning to recognise this as they take steps to protect and refine their image.