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Brand vs. Product

How can new brands hope to stand out on supermarket shelves? Introductory offers only get you so far, and new brands don’t have the reputation and haven’t earned the loyalty of customers that gives more established brands the leg-up, even with completely new markets. On supermarket shelves, your product is literally sitting next to household names that have gone unchallenged for decades – so new brands are forced to make a splash when it comes to branding. The question is though, how should new brands split the difference between investing in bettering their product, and investing in fleshing out their brand?

Nine times out of ten, we walk into supermarkets knowing what we want to buy right down to the brand, range and size of the SKU. We go back to those brands and products time and time again because of a combination of their taste, price and packaging. Picking a new brand is a gamble, especially if the cost of the alternative product is higher than our usual go-to. All we have to go off is the look and feel of the new brand, so from that alone we have to decide whether or not to take the leap of faith and invest for the first time.

With this in mind, it seems obvious that brands need to invest in design – packaging design in particular – to make their product stand out. Without that visual appeal, they aren’t likely to picked up for a closer look, let alone dropped into the basket, bought and used. That said, even with the best visual identity and packaging execution in the world – this is just a short term win if the product can’t live up to it. Stand-out brands with weak products may gain initial inquisitive purchases, but will see a heavy drop-off beyond that with only the minority buying from them again in the future.

Is a 50/50 split between brand investment and product development the right way to go in that case? Or does it depend on the product? If we think of cheddar, for instance – shoppers have very little loyalty to any one cheddar brand, they just buy whichever one is on offer. Should cheesemakers invest more in brand than others, in that case? Or should they invest more in their product, hoping that doing so and supporting that investment with competitive pricing will gradually create loyalty in spite of the price being higher than the brands on offer?

Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules here, so all we can do at this stage is pose the questions. We will happily meet with you to offer our own recommendations, or even just to contribute to the discussion as an expert outside voice – either way, chat to Antonio to start the ball rolling and we’ll help any way that we can.