Grow Your Brand: Destination Brands

In our third article in our #GrowYourBrand series, referencing Byron Sharpe’s books, we explore the concept of Destination Brands and discuss whether for some brands, loyalty does, in fact, still exist.


Does loyalty for Destination Brands still exist? Apple Mac with its loyal devotees fits neatly into Sharp's Destination Brand category


According to Sharp only about a fifth of buyers consider a single brand. This ratio may seem low, but if you flip it you induce that 1 in 5 shoppers will actively travel out of their way to a specific shop to purchase a specific product. Meet the ‘Destination’ brands. In 2005 Saatchi and Saatchi defined such brands as Lovemarks; ‘Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence’. This school of thought paved the way for the huge trend towards storytelling and building and communicating brand identity.

More recently though, thanks to Sharp’s controversial book, this approach has come into question and just this week Tom Fishburne, The Marketoonist, took a gentle gibe.

What defines a Destination brand?


Destination brands aren’t those that consumers simply buy, they’re brands that their consumers are prepared to travel for - this differs from the Repertoire Brands in which a consumer will simply choose a similar product if their first choice isn’t available. Examples of Destination brands include: Apple, Converse, Pampers and even some Femcare brands.

Loyalty, habit, or both?


As Destination brands differ widely from the previously covered Repertoire Brands, it follows that the strategic focus should too. The key for brands is in getting to the heart of consumer behaviour – if loyalty is born from habit, brands must be present when those habits are formed. As such the goal of Destination Brands should be to capture consumers’ hearts at the point of market entry; when they buy their first pair of trainers, their first mobile phone or during their first pregnancy. By securing a consumer’s attention at this pivotal point in the buyer journey, much stronger, longer standing Memory Structures will be formed. The second focus of a Destination Brand’s strategy must then be on repeat purchase and continuous reinforcement of the memory structures, to ensure that brand remains front of mind.

For Destination Brands to grow it is absolutely crucial to constantly acquire new consumers; however we also believe that without an element of, dare we say it, loyalty, by definition these brands would not exist. Yet they do. We put this down to the power of human-to-human recommendations and shared experiences; topics given little air time in Sharp’s first book and discussed, but dismissed as integral to brand growth in the second.

Real life, targeted influence


For many products, if you want a consumer for life, you have to get ‘em young. But in a world where GenZ and even Millennials are brand cynical and more informed than ever before, while your marketing may reach them, converting that reach to purchase is challenging. Influence is key; not necessarily from the social media stars, but from those around them too. The trick to success here is in identifying where these meaningful interactions, for example a parent guiding their daughter through their first period, are happening, and then enhance them by providing tools that facilitate shared brand experiences.

Strong iconic assets are far more effective at building memory structures than an infomercial (which very few consumers will take the time to watch anyway). Education is an important element often sacrificed in the quest for reach; however for many brands it is crucial to ensuring optimum brand experiences. Once you’ve identified your devoted consumers you can arm them with marketing information to spread to their own networks. As well as being accurate and effective, this, according to Nielson is the most credible form of advertising there is. It will also boost the impact of ABL activity too. Plus, your existing consumers can be key to enabling trial by ensuring that your product gets into the hands of people who are interested, at the just the right time; far more effectively than a broad yet anonymous sampling campaign might.

The power of other people's words


There’s a reason 77% of consumers seek out online reviews before making a purchase – other consumers’ words are compelling content. Consumers want to feel that they’re making a wise choice and the words of fellow consumers are far more reassuring than a clever TV ad.

Displaying UGC like reviews in your online store can help to increase conversions. This goes for offline shopping too - 82% of shoppers consult their phones about a purchase they’re about to make in-store - so make sure there are credible reviews for them to find when researching your product.

The trnd angle


We agree wholeheartedly with Byron Sharp’s philosophy that brands need to continually recruit new users in order to grow. Similarly, we agree that the Memory Structures formed at the Point of Market Entry/Change can help to create habits that will encourage consumers to make repeat purchases. Where we stray slightly from Sharp’s path is on the issue of loyalty. Treating consumers like a faceless entity that respond only to clever marketing tactics, we feel, is underestimating them somewhat and while this approach may work for many brands, there are some for which loyalty, even if driven in part by habit, still exists. What we strongly believe is that consumers no longer want to be at the receiving end of your marketing plan; they strive to be an active part within it. By identifying the people who are genuinely passionate about your brand and amplifying their influence, at scale, they will have a huge impact – not just on their friends who are about to make a purchase, but also on the impact of other ABL media activity too.

At trnd, we help brands grow by harnessing the human potential of your consumers at scale. We can identify, educate and then activate millions of households who love to work with brands, to help power your marketing.

Join us for a free webinar on the 4th October for a more in depth discussion on how consumer activation can help Grow Your Brand. You can register HERE.

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