In this day and age, your brand is probably the most valuable part of your business. It is more than the relationship you build with your customers. It is actually the business. That is why brand managers spend sleepless nights building this valuable but invisible asset. It is therefore particularly painful to witness a brand one has struggled to build being pillaged by opportunists.
Who are brand scavengers?
Brand scavengers are those people who somehow get to use your products or services and yet they do not belong to your target market. Often times, they end up abusing instead of using the product.
It behooves you as business or brand owner to reclaim your brand and get the target users at all times. You run the risk of losing out significant market share if no concrete steps are taken to address the brand scavengers. The greatest victims of brand scavengers are aspirational brands like Apple products or luxury brands like Mercedes Benz and BMW.
To address this brand scavenging challenge, we lay out a few tactics that will help remedy the situation.
1. Create exclusive clubs
As a marketer, create exclusive clubs for your brand ambassadors. Clearly define the entry requirements to these clubs to keep off these wannabes best known for scavenging on the brand. Make yours a special club where genuine followers have a deep sense of belonging while the copycats stand out like a sore thumb. Remember the Alfa Romeo club?
2. Raise the bar against Brand Scavengers
Redefine your 4Ps to address the needs of your target market while keeping away the scavengers. Apple for example has made unique accessories that are expensive and are rarely compatible with the cheap generics. You may not stop them from buying cheap second hand Mercedes Benz but make sure you do not avail to them cheap spare parts. Make them weep when it comes to buying these parts.
3. Never join them
Never ever consider these brand scavenger wannabes as part of your market. When Equity bank rocked the Kenyan market, a few international banks tried to bend to their level and also join the gravy train of lending to the chaotic informal sector. Many are still limping from this ordeal with some considering moving out of Africa altogether.
4. Don’t address the Brand Scavengers
As you design your communication strategy, make sure you do not talk to the wannabes. Your channels should clearly focus on your clients. If they are in golf clubs, organize golf tournaments. Yes, the wannabes will continue to hang on your coat tails but will eventually fall out. Someone once told me that he found the music played by Capital FM very boring. Sure. What does he expect? He does not belong to their target market.
5. Intimidate them
This has been successfully applied by luxury brands. Their location, decoration and ambience are usu
ally too intimidating for brand scavengers. Those who do not fit their client profile feel out of place. The valets in 5 star hotels are well dressed and the décor at the lobby easily keeps off those who do not belong. Use design, packaging, pricing and distribution to ring fence your market to isolate the brand scavengers.
6. Use referrals
You can admit new entrants through referrals from your loyal followers. Your followers already know your standards so they will only bring on board those who meet your standards. A luxury brand is a valuable thing. Do not hawk it.
Article from African Market Media.
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