Online Brand Value: A Case of Distributors and Industrialists
Recently I came across the following quote from Krista Triede, PR director and partner of Made For Good:
“Brands no longer dictate their rules to a faceless audience from the height of the podium. Now they have to deal with some of the most educated, sophisticated and attentive consumers, who in many cases participate in the formation of a business concept and require a real, two-way relationship. As a result, branded companies have to exert more efforts than ever to demonstrate their authenticity, and for those who do not have it, it is very difficult to survive in the market. Brands had to complicate the flow of information, the so-called “storytelling,” and despite the fact that the best of them are always ready to upgrade at any cost, now they are introducing innovative solutions in portions ”(from Chief Strategy Officer, a publication on marketing and research on innovative solutions).
In my opinion, this is one of the most expressive, deep and strong statements regarding brand management in the market that I have heard recently. I discussed its impact on our e-commerce activities with manufacturers and distributors. Here are some of my observations:
For distributors who in the past were not focused on any brand of their own (even if companies are focused on the brands or products that they sell), it has become more important than ever to tell the world about themselves and what they are doing. Nowadays, almost every distributor I speak with notes that: "our customers do not know the entire range of products that we sell." This is especially curious, despite the fact that most, if not all, distributors seek to expand their current supply of goods. From the point of view of electronic commerce, the use of a multi-level hierarchy to demonstrate hundreds of thousands of products on the website of an online store will only make navigation more difficult for the user, and certainly will not help the visitor understand the distributor's assortment policy.
At the last seminar, Paul Miller of WW Grainger Inc., a supplier of more than a million varieties of repair equipment, which continues to expand its range of online services, noted that Grainger is not going to stop printing its catalog. It can be argued that the very existence of a catalog - especially six inches in thickness - is an example of a costly strategy that is becoming obsolete in the modern digital world, but the catalog definitely speaks in favor of the brand and, therefore, still has some value at a slightly different level .
Another typical remark that a modern distributor can do is: “our customers are not aware of the many services we provide.” Branding is read in every word of this remark, but the traditional approach to familiarizing the audience with the brand for the distributor previously boiled down to the fact that the brand’s sales representative shook hands with the consumer and scattered in promises that the company undertakes to fulfill. With the growing number of buyers from the “two thousandth” generation who are not disposed to shake hands with your sales representative, companies are beginning to realize that there are significant flaws in their strategy for entering the market. Moreover, their brand becomes “faceless”, and they simply don’t see a way to tell its story.
As for the producers, I like the word “narrative” used in the opening quote. We are all human beings, and we enjoy listening to stories, and many brands have a story to tell. With the social technologies available today, it’s quite easy to establish a stable position in the business world, which offers great opportunities to tell people how your products or company influence spread in completely new ways.
Manufacturers can start by looking for “pioneers” in this area to adopt some valuable ideas. Among my favorites: the Jeep Life project of Jeep.com; video stories and simply articles about Starbucks working in various global communities on Starbucks.com; SubZero and “Friends of the Kitchen ”from a supplier of products for cooking and freezing food at Subzero-Wolf.com.
For manufacturers and distributors, the use of a “narrative” approach will simply become necessary in order to interact with consumers, strengthen the influence of their brand and stay on the market.