Accounting for just 10% of global brands, Power Brands might look like a rare breed at first glance. But with a 40% share of worldwide revenues (GfK Point of Sale Data 2022), they are a force to be reckoned with – and a status that many brands seek to achieve. The question is: how can you achieve the Power Brand status at a time when consumers are going through a cost-of-living crisis, and companies are increasingly pressed to offer budget-friendly alternatives?
According to consumer and market intelligence experts, the opportunity is definitely out there for brands that wish to seize it. Adopting the right strategies will, of course, be pivotal to success. in this article, we provide three key recommendations for businesses looking to move into the Power Brands arena, especially those currently residing in the Exclusive or Mainstream Brand segments.
What is a Power Brand?
Many marketers aspire to achieve the Power Brand status because it offers the best of both worlds: a balance between mass market appeal and the ability to charge premium prices. This is precisely why these products account for such a high proportion of global revenues compared to the actual number of Power Brands worldwide.
Whilst all types of brands have their own space in the market and their own growth strategies, Power Brands have the edge over the other brand types in terms of sales volumes, brand strength and price elasticity. Also, when it comes to customer loyalty, they are more stable and less prone to competitor threats than Mainstream and Smaller Brands, and only narrowly lose out to Exclusive Brands in their ability to charge premium pricing.
On the other hand, achieving Power Brand status is not straightforward. To rise to, and stay at, the top of their game, marketers must deploy strategies that drive both premium pricing and high sales volumes. This is a fine balancing act that goes far beyond products and services per se. It requires precise targeting and messaging, along with the articulation of brand purpose, values, quality and uniqueness – all at a time when marketing budgets are being squeezed to the limit.
Additionally, watch this short video interview for further explanation on the topic.
How do I become a Power Brand?
1. Invest in getting the basics right
Becoming a Power Brand requires mass market distribution, i.e., making products available in as many stores, websites and territories as possible. Brands will also need an omnichannel communications strategy that covers all relevant traditional and digital channels, to enable maximum exposure across each audience segment.
Embracing these tactics is the only way to support the levels of accessibility, brand awareness and sales volumes needed to attain Power Brand status. This means investing heavily in distribution and advertising (especially digital and TV), and building brand advocacy through relationships with established influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). But is this really an opportunity at a time of economic crisis or just a massive financial risk?
Madalina Carstea, Head of Global Solutions, Brand & Marketing Intelligence at GfK, explains. “Historically, brands that have continued with their investment through economic turbulence have come out stronger, with the ability to maintain or increase their premium and market share.
“This represents a great opportunity for brands that haven't yet achieved Power Brand status to take advantage of the ‘space’ freed up by competitors that stop or reduce investment. Their share of voice and share of space is up for grabs by aspiring Power Brands with the right approach. In essence, your products need to be ‘findable’ in more places and more spaces than your competitors’. A best-in-class distribution strategy is key to supporting the required levels of sales volumes, so learning how to optimize your distribution as a company and surpass your competitors in this space, whilst balancing your investment, is essential.”
- Madalina Carstea, Head of Global Solutions, Marketing & Consumer Intelligence at GfK
Leveraging the right tools can help you develop highly targeted communications and distribution investment strategies. For example, state-of-the-art marketing analytics software can help you refine spending levels across the optimal combination of digital and offline channels, so you can achieve maximum reach and ROI. Access to powerful, granular POS data will inform your distribution activities by pinpointing where and when your target customers want to buy. These are both areas where GfK can help.
2. Ensure communications are consistent
As seen above, an omnichannel communications strategy is indispensable. What is equally important is that every part of this strategy is consistent and coherent. This applies to both internal and external communications, with the prerequisite that companies wishing to enter the Power Brands market must obtain the commitment and support of all business functions from the top down.
GfK Vice President of Consulting Jutta Langer says, “Creating and maintaining brand attachment is a ‘must’ for Power Brands, as this helps consumers emotionally connect with the products. This is what ultimately drives loyalty and allows the brands to charge premium prices. But it’s a hard target to hit in today’s climate with 60% of people saying they may stop buying their favorite brands due to the cost of living and 85% saying they are actively seeking cheaper alternatives.
“For Power Brands, keeping their brand image and messaging consistent across all consumer touchpoints and at every stage of the buying journey is fundamental to creating and maintaining brand attachment. You will also need access to accurate, current and highly granular consumer and market data that represents a single source of truth.”
- Jutta Langer, Vice President of Consulting at GfK
Looking specifically at consistent pricing communications, SEO is an area that warrants special attention. As the most searched-for brand type, it is critical for Power Brands to get all their digital activities – but especially SEO – 100% on-point. As can be seen below, Share of Search shows a perfect correlation with the Brand Strength Index.
The advantage of Power Brands over other brand types in both these areas is a good indication that consumers may do more research due to the higher premiums and perceived financial risks involved.
So, whilst the typical Power Brand consumer may be willing to pay a premium for their favorite products, they are also likely to be price-savvy. According to GfK FutureBuy data, they will spend longer searching for the best deals and promotions for big-ticket items and their research activities will often continue right up to the point of purchase.
Getting your pricing strategy right once again boils down to consistency. That means synchronizing and controlling both standard and promotional pricing across stores and online channels, and ideally running offers at the same time. This will stop brands selling more units on promotions than they should – something which can easily erode brand strength – whilst protecting profit margins.
It is essential to optimize your pricing and predict the impact on consumer demand of changes to your pricing and product mix strategies – including the likely reaction to new SKUs and ranges – so you can maximize revenues and profit margins across your entire portfolio
3. Offer the right mix of products, attributes and values
Power Brands tend to have more SKUs than other brand types, with an average of 186 compared to just 61 for Smaller Brands, as can be seen below. This is because Power Brands require a range of products to cater for diverse customer segments with differing needs, priorities, design preferences and values if the brand is to achieve mass market appeal.
At the same time, the typical Power Brand consumer is also looking for something unique, innovative and modern to justify paying a premium. Brands therefore need to invest in quality and originality of design to offer superior products that will delight customers at every turn and inspire a lasting emotional connection with, and attachment to, the brand.
Meeting core consumer needs before any frills are added is equally important. Having the latest smartphone may make people feel like they own a status symbol, but the feeling will not last if the device does not perform well. More than any other brand type, Power Brands must blend quality, trustworthiness and desirability to strike the right balance. A tiered pricing model – e.g. standard, advanced and premium models – may be the solution for some brands.
Appealing to consumer values is important, too. Power Brands have traditionally been bought most frequently by the 35 to 54 age group, which straddles Millennials and Generation X. More recently, Millennials and Generation Z (41 and younger) have become a massive commercial opportunity thanks to their high spending power and brand loyalty according to gfknewron Consumer. And, they are the most likely groups to be swayed by advocacy, with 65% having made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendations.
Says Madalina Carstea: “It is crucial for Power Brands to understand the demographics of each of their audience segments, so they can position their brand to meet that target group’s wants, needs and aspirations. You need the ability to identify, understand and win your most valuable customer segments across any and all generational groups in both the short and longer term.”
How to go from Exclusive or Mainstream to a Power Brand
“Achieving Power Brand status is certainly possible even in the present economic climate. However, aspiring Power Brands must get all the essential ‘pieces’ of the Power Brand ‘puzzle’ correctly aligned if they are to offer a truly exceptional brand experience to their target audience.”
- Jutta Langer, Vice President of Consulting at GfK
If achieving Power Brand status is the ambition for your business, below are some core areas to focus on that will help your Exclusive or Mainstream Brand build a new strategic direction and move successfully into the coveted Power Brands sector.
The challenge in successfully achieving Power Brand status is ensuring that individual elements are optimised and work together seamlessly to create a coherent and unique brand experience. If you are interested in receiving further advice, GfK can help. Our world-leading consumer and market intelligence services are underpinned by our global brand and category expertise – and a strong track record of consultancy success.