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More from the Pharmacy 2008 Conference Ė Branding Matters

Neil Retallick
A Friendly Society Perspective

Issue 77: November 2008
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The development and use of brands has a long history in pharmacy. 
For many years it was the wholesalers driving their use as they worked funnelling strategies to grow and then maintain their wholesale sales.
In recent years, more brands have emerged as groups of independent pharmacists have banded together with a view to sustainability in a more competitive market. 
It was very useful then to hear Dr Jenni Romaniuk from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science present on what makes good branding at the Pharmacy 2008 Conference.

Jenni’s going in point for her presentation was that there are lots of brands in most categories of products and services, that they vary tremendously in market share and that, in fact, within any category they aren’t terribly different.

Here a brand is a name underpinned by a collection of memories that reside in the minds of current and potential users.  These memories reflect what people know about that brand and help the brand get thought of in potential buying situations. They contribute to the evaluation of the brand’s suitability in any buying situation. Jenni warns though that, like all memories, they need to be created and refreshed.

Brands make life (and buying) easier for consumers by reducing their need to think.  Buyers mostly buy again and again from an established repertoire of brands.  They make choices very quickly using existing memories.

Consumers develop their brand memories through all of their interactions with a brand, be they advertising or other communications, their instore experience and/or any people associated with the brand.  The challenge is to cut through the clutter of people’s lives.  Most buyers unconsciously fail to notice or consider most brands.  This is why most brands don’t get bought – because buyers do not consider them when they are buying. They don’t remember them. (As opposed to being remembered and rejected.)

Brands are important for an organisation for a number of reasons. Brands can’t be copied as easily as new products or services.  And buyers are 2-3 times more likely to notice advertising for the brands they buy.

The best way to get sales growth for a brand, according to Jenni, is to get new customers.  It is likely that 80% of existing sales come from 20% of all existing buyers and that there are more non-buyers than buyers of any brand. The easiest path to sales growth is to acquire new customers, rather than getting existing customers to buy more. This is the cut through challenge.

The brand needs to be presented to consumers is such a way that those consumers do remember the brand, that memories are created.  This is the challenge of good branding.

Good branding is about identity and presenting that identity in a consistent way. It is about developing relevant traits that are clearly identifiable in the brand’s competitive environment and communicating them in a distinctive fashion. This makes the brand memorable, importantly outside of buying situations, thereby increasing the likelihood the brand will be remembered in a buying situation.

There are two dimensions to good branding.  Firstly, there is the direct communication of the brand – simply showing or saying it.  Two of the key rules here are say it (show it) early and say it often. The second dimension is the indirect communication – describing what are the distinctive qualities and/or symbols of the brand.  The key requirement for these is that they are unique and relevant from the buyer’s perspective.

Ultimately the distinctiveness of the brand is not the reason why consumers buy the brand, its value is to make the brand easier to remember.

To make life easier for our potential customers, we need to be easy to remember – all the time.

The community pharmacy landscape is becoming more cluttered, not just with pharmacy brands.  Other retail brands now offer many products available in pharmacy.  Our challenge is to ensure we have a brand that is remembered when consumers are looking to buy. Our objective is to attract new customers using that brand.


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