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A CSP Staff Report from 2014 Convenience Retailing University

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How to Build a Relevant Brand

Consumer culture, triggers, niches play into better marketing, Davis says

Marketing guru Andrew Davis says the convenience- retailing industry’s place in the consumer consciousness is this: making great strides with creative, quality products and services, but still not a part of many people’s daily decision-making processes.

Based on the marketing methodology he calls “brandscaping,” from his book “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships,” Davis shared strategies to help build up a brand in the eye of the consumer.

Consider New Trigger Points: Davis recommends looking at marketing as an ongoing cycle that begins with a specific trigger—for example, the need for lunch. There’s typically one brand that will immediately come to the consumer’s mind, usually the one that markets to him the most. From there, the consumer enters the active evaluation process, adding and subtracting options.

The goal, he said, is to remove things from the active evaluation process so the consumer thinks of you. How can you leverage the trigger in your retail environment? And where are the triggers? Sometimes they are obvious, such as lunch or a coffee break. Other times, opportunities come from strange places in our culture. A recent study found that the MTV show “Sixteen and Pregnant” has triggered a huge decrease in teen pregnancies and a jump in condom sales.

Such cultural phenomena are “way outside of your control but are huge opportunities,” said Davis. Look at what brands are big in consumer culture and explore ways to capitalize on it. The explosion of “Duck Dynasty” licensing seen at last year’s NACS Show is a good indication of such power.

“Nothing has fueled our consumer culture more than the content brands we love,” he said. “Valuable content … inspires people to buy something they didn’t know they needed.”

Content-First Media: Rare—if not nonexistent—is the company that has figured out digital media. Davis recommends a content-first approach, in which the communication you put out and how you execute it is always high quality, relevant and consistent. “If you’re going to be successful in the digital world you need to … provide content that’s valuable,” he said.

The vast expanse of social media means brands need to have a larger footprint so they show up more often in consumer culture. But it must be relevant.

Think Fractals: Avoid the impulse of trying to serve large swaths of consumer groups, and instead explore highly specialized niches. Davis offered the example of Tractor Supply Co., a retailer than homed in on a very specific niche—backyard-chicken raisers—and through special events, online content and a passionate spokesperson saw a monumental increase in sales just by selling more chicks and feed.

Consider Micro-Day-Parts: The industry is no stranger to foodservice day-parts, but Davis challenged attendees to look at very specific, niche parts of their consumers’ days to find regular, ongoing times to market to them via social media or sell them something they need. You can be more relevant if you understand their days and their needs during those times, he said. --Abbie Westra

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