Branding Perspectives (Part 2 of 4): Creating a Value Proposition for Your Customer

Creating a Value Proposition for Your Customer

In my last article, I reviewed the importance of building a proprietary brand identity to support product differentiation in the marketplace.  Once that identity is established, the critical process of translating that identity into meaningful consumer language begins.  In other words, it’s not enough to have a good idea if you can’t tell people about it in an effective and persuasive manner.  That of course is the job of good marketing.  I call this step building or communicating a value proposition.

Consumers buy products and services because they provide unique satisfaction of needs or wants.  That exchange brings the consumer value or something of worth for monies expended.  The job of advertising and packaging and sales promotion activity is to communicate brand value in a compelling way.  The ultimate goal is to move the customer along the path from brand awareness to brand acceptance to brand trial.

So what is a value proposition?  It’s a summary of the persuasive and relevant reasons why the customer should buy your product or service.  It flows out of your brand positioning and brand identity.  It is comprised of two major components: functional benefits and emotional benefits.

Functional benefits include the practical and physical advantages featured in your product.  This might be how the product is packaged, the dosage form or delivery system, unique coloration, or some extraordinary ingredient.  For example, when Hero Nutrition was looking to introduce a new supplement for kids, they discovered an opportunity to package it in a “pixie stick” delivery system for powdered supplements.  Kids love pixie sticks.  Moms love that kids love pixie sticks.  This delivery system makes kids happy and mom’s job easier.  Win win.  And so Yummi Blast™ was born.

Emotional benefits relate to how the product or service will make the consumer feel.  How will they interact with it?  How will it affect their daily lives?  Will it make her day go better because of its convenience?  Will it improve his love life?  Will it allow them both to spend more years together free of disease?  Will it make someone feel important?  Will it make someone happy?  Will it relieve guilt?  You get the idea.  The point here is that it’s hard to overestimate the degree to which people buy products and services for emotional reasons that are not necessarily logical or rational.  It’s why people spend more for a Lexus.  It’s why women pay more for lingerie from Victoria Secret.  It’s why men go to the gym every night when they would rather stay home.  People remember what they felt long after they’ve forgotten what they heard.  Never forget that consumers buy with their hearts as much as with their heads.  So in formulating a value proposition, keep in mind how the customer will relate to what you are selling on a purely emotional basis.  And then make sure you speak to that in your marketing communication.

Once you have identified these functional and emotional benefits, then you are ready to begin working on ways to communicate them in a creative and relevant manner.  Those two words are carefully chosen.  Creativity is necessary because research shows that people react more positively to new stimuli that are different from that previously received.  By taking new and distinctive approaches in your marketing communications, be it advertising or merchandising or packaging, you are more likely to attract and maintain your customer’s attention.  Being relevant underscores the importance of delivering messages to your customer in a way that is meaningful and important to him or her, not just to you.

Real World Applications

IMG recently helped a Midwest company launch an innovative new brand of liquid soap called Fresh Scents™.  Through a patented process they had combined liquid hand soap with a separate air freshener in one convenient container.  This product had clear functional benefits in its economical, dual use capability.  It also had significant emotional benefits embodied in its boutique fragrances and elegant, sleek bottle design that would compliment any décor.  Subsequently, our advertising and merchandising materials reflected both types of benefits with great success.

Nutri-Grain does the same thing with its “Respect Yourself” campaign.  The functional benefit lies in the low fat content of the bars.  The emotional benefit is that since your are what you eat, this low fat snack will look better on you than a high fat muffin or Danish.

So, to recap, communicating a value proposition means defining the functional and emotional benefits of your product or service and then sharing that message in a creative and relevant way.

In my next installment, I will talk about building brand equity and the importance of brand integration in successful marketing.

Jeff Hilton
Co-founder, Partner
Integrated Marketing Group

Previously published in Functional Ingredients

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