Building on product quality


The paper presents a case history of the introduction of a premium quality brand of whiskey in four markets, the UK, France, USA, and Japan. There are three stages to introducing a premium brand to a new market. 1) In the initial stage, consumers need to be made aware of the brand as a new premium brand. 2) Once awareness has been established the brand must justify its claim to quality. This is achieved by stressing product attributes which underly the brand's authenticity. In a highly developed market, these quality claims can be made equally well by many premium brands. At this stage, then, quality is based on category attributes. 3) A final stage is therefore needed, in order to give a brand individuality. In this stage, quality is linked to brand attributes, to the sense in which the brand itself has a definable image. This is the most demanding stage, as brand development is no longer based on tangible attributes. Each step requires a different marketing communications strategy. The strategy must change over time and the changes between steps are gradual. There is, therefore, a need for a flexible system of strategy development, tracking of image gains and communications testing. This system requires: 1) A full array of competitors as different competitors or market segments may be targetted at initial and later phases. 2) A complete attribute set that covers product category and brand image dimensions, both tangible and intangible. 3) Accurate and flexible communications testing which enables results to be fed back into strategy development. The whiskey brand discussed is at a different stage of development in the four markets. This allows comparisons to be made across countries and stages of development. Advertising pre-test results are used to show brand quality imagery was developed at different stages.

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