What functions does your brand perform? How does it help its ultimate consumers function better? What exactly does your brand deliver—physically or emotionally—to those consumers? The sum total of your marketing actions (advertising, packaging, promotional materials, in-store merchandising, etc.) should answer these questions for your consumers.
As women grew tired of the fashion industry's unattainable ideal of beauty, Kellogg of Canada launched an unusual ad campaign in the fall of 1996 to promote their Special K® cereal. A series of advertisements attacked society's obsession with "thinness," while positively stressing fitness and health—including Special K as part of your diet—as the keys to a positive body image. This emphasis was very successful—so successful, in fact, that Kellogg's continues to use positive body image in the marketing campaigns for Special K cereal. Although fashions and diet trends have changed since 1996, the idea still resonates with today's health and fitness conscious consumers. It works because it provides a solution for their target consumers' need or problem.
Always think about your product as a potential solution for the consumer. Furthermore, always understand that this focus is entirely different from being centered on the internal attributes of your product, such as its technical makeup or how it is manufactured. Those factors may be foremost in your mind about your product, but they are important to consumers only if they are translated into a solution that they value, and are willing to pay to have. Consider that manufacturers such as Nike no longer appear to be selling just shoes and apparel to women; they are also selling the image of empowerment through personal strength, which is a "consumer solution"—offering women the chance to gain the ability to defy entrenched stereotypes.
When I came to Revlon in early 2002, we conducted consumer research to understand the current positioning of the Revlon brand in the...