A way to expand the number of brand users is winning competitorsâ€™ customers. Examples of this approach abound. Marketers of Puffs facial tissues are always wooing Kleenex customers. Volume can also be increased by convincing current users to increase their brand usage:
(1) Use the product on more occasions. Serve Campbellâ€™s soup for a snack. Use Heinz vinegar to clean windows. Take Kodak pictures of your pets.
(2) Use more of the product on each occasion. Drink a larger glass of orange juice.
(3) Use the product in new ways. Use Tums antacid as a calcium supplement.
Managers also try to stimulate sales by modifying the productâ€™s characteristics through quality improvement, feature improvement, or style improvement.
Quality improvement aims at increasing the productâ€™s functional performance. A manufacturer can often overtake its competition by launching a â€œnew and improvedâ€ product. Grocery manufacturers call this a â€œplus launchâ€ and promote a new additive or advertise something as â€œstronger,â€ â€œbigger,â€ or â€œbetter.â€
This strategy is effective to the extent that the quality is improved, buyers accept the claim of improved quality, and a sufficient number of buyers will pay for higher quality. In the case of the canned coffee industry, manufacturers are using â€œfreshnessâ€ to better their brands in the face of fierce competition from premium rivals, such as store brands where customers grind their own beans in the store. Kraftâ€™s Maxwell House will tout coffee sold in its new Fresh Seal packaging and P&Gâ€™s Folgerâ€™s ads will show how its Aroma Seal canisters plastic, peel-top, re-sealable and easy-grip packages will make its ground beans fresher.
However, customers are not always willing to accept an â€œimprovedâ€ product, as the classic tale of New Coke illustrates.
Battered by competition from the sweeter Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola decided in 1985 to replace its old formula with a sweeter variation, dubbed the New Coke. Coca-Cola spent $4 million on market research. Blind taste tests showed that Coke drinkers preferred the new, sweeter formula, but the launch of New Coke provoked a national uproar. Market researchers had measured the taste but had failed to measure the emotional attachment consumers had to Coca-Cola. There were angry letters, formal protests, and even lawsuit threats, to force the retention of â€œThe Real Thing.â€ Ten weeks later, the company withdrew New Coke and reintroduced its century-old formula as â€œClassic Coke,â€ giving the old formula even stronger status in the marketplace.
Feature improvement aims at adding new features, for example, size, weight, materials, and additives, accessories that expand the productâ€™s performance, versatility, safety, or convenience. In 1998, after years of research and development, Vlasic created a cucumber 10 times larger than the traditional pickle cucumber. The chips, sold as â€œHamburger Stackersâ€, are large enough to cover the entire surface of a hamburger and are stacked a dozen high in jars.
Pfizer also embarked on feature improvement for its Listerine brand.
In India almost all the market leaders in consumer goods like HLL, P&G, Godrej, Park Avenue etc., have embarked on improved packing along with superior quality particularly of products like bathing soaps, edible oils, detergents, shaving creams occasionally giving 20 to 40% free in a larger pack in the same improved packing version. This has diverted the staunch brand loyalists to go in for the other brand because of the free attraction and improved looks.