Consumers make many different buying decisions every day. It is important that large companies developing products for the consumer market-place understand the many factors which affect consumer-buying behaviour. A market-driven organisation needs to find out where consumers buy different products, how they buy, what they buy as well as why they buy. It is only by answering these questions about consumer behaviour and motivations that organisations can develop their own product’s features and obtain key advantages over their competitors.
The youth market is probably the most difficult market for an organisation to compete in. Products for young people are often a form of self-expression – a fashion statement shaped by an infinite mix of influences which often change rapidly. Competing in such a market involves being close to customers, understanding their behaviour and the many different factors which influence it. In fast changing markets such as the youth market, it is important for an organisation to offer a ‘product’ that includes many of the features, benefits and services with which young people can identify. A product strategy goes beyond simply developing a range of products. It also involves providing a distinctive identity for the products with which users can identify. This process is known as branding.
A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design, (or a combination of these) which identifies a seller’s products and differentiates them from competitors’ products. Brands identify a series of complex meanings for consumers which, over a period of time, can have considerable power in the market-place. After launching a new product or developing a brand, managers would ideally like them to have a long and fruitful life. However, if a brand is left alone, it simply goes into decline. Brands need to be managed. This case study focuses on Boot’s 17 brand. It examines how Boots has:
re-positioned the brand to meet the changing needs of consumers in the youth market
used the re-positioning process to inject new life into the brand.
As brands become familiar, they begin to represent a series of values or meanings. These may be tangible, such as the physical shape and packaging of a product, or less tangible such as brand personality. The challenge for a large organisation like Boots is to develop brand values and meanings with which consumers can identify. In marketing terms, 17 is a mature brand. It is a 30-year old brand with 350 products in its range. The target market for brand 17 is 15-19 year olds. Targeting is a process where marketing efforts are aimed at a particular market.
Over the past five years, the profile of the 17 brand has changed significantly. Initially, it was a budget brand identified by low prices. Now it is perceived as a ‘happening’, ‘with-it’ brand for ‘girls with attitude’. At first, however, the new profile for the brand was not being delivered instore. Although Boots’ attitudinal advertising had been successful in re-positioning the brand, this advertising promise was not being delivered in-store. There was a clear need to undertake research designed to re-launch the brand, further develop its profile and improve its market share.