Tuesday, August 08, 2006

David vs Goliath revisited

On the way home last night, I dropped by NTUC to pick up some bread. Before I entered the shop, I had no idea what brand I would buy; I’m not the one who normally grocery shops in the family, so as far as I was concerned, all I wanted was a loaf of white bread. But as I pushed past the entrance barriers, right smack in front of me was a standalone rack full of High5 bread. Beside it were the other bread brands in their normal display spot on shelves. As the High5 loaves were set apart from the other brands and featured more prominently, I automatically wandered over and picked up a loaf. “High5”, I thought, “that’s what we wrote about the other day (High5 aims to dethrone bread institutions).” We had also done a follow-up poll (Young brands can succeed) which asked readers whether it was possible for young brands, like High5, to go up and succeed against established competition like Sunshine and Gardenia. The results of that poll were overwhelmingly in favour (60%) for young brands succeeding, provided they compete using clever and strategic marketing methods. All this was going through my head as I stood there with the High5 loaf in one hand, when inexplicably, I put it back down, and walked on to the Gardenia section. Gardenia’s packaging had a nice shade of blue that attracted me, plus the Gardenia brand just seemed so much more familiar and somehow, closer to home (What about Sunshine? I know it sounds weird and very superficial, but the yellow didn’t appeal to me so I didn’t even consider the brand at all). I paid up and left the store but all the way home, I kept wondering why I didn’t choose High5 when I would've associated myself with the 60% who had voted in favour of David being able to beat Goliath.

I was talking to Debs this morning and recounting my experience from last night when she said what I’d just told her was exactly the same as what she’d been discussing at a recent Samsung media lunch. Apparently, Samsung’s market research showed that when consumers were surveyed about what colour mobile phones they would most likely purchase, consumers would invariably choose ‘colourful’ colours like orange, pink, purple etc. But when it comes to actually purchasing a phone, something happens during the POS moment: consumers almost always buy the safest colour – black. That goes some way towards explaining why I didn’t choose High5, although I think other factors like not knowing how it would taste like (as opposed to Gardenia which I’ve been eating for so long that its tried, tested, tasted and trusted), as well as the lack of any marketing promotions -- let alone clever and strategic ones -- to sell the product to me. I think the latter was probably what didn’t persuade me enough to break my emotional bond with Gardenia and take a chance with the newbie. And I think therein lies the challenge for High5: While I as an infrequent grocery shopper am probably not the brand’s prime target audience, how can it break through and become a top of mind brand for a very important demographic group -- the housewives/homemakers, and in the coming years, for a whole generation of mothers/fathers who’ve grown up with the Gardenia or Sunshine brand?

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