Building bran equity: the importance of being regular

Bran-based cereals have long been marketed as a convenient and tasty way to promote good digestive health.  Furthermore, they have as also been suggested as an effective method of breaking the vicious cycle of dependency on laxative drugs (Do you think this is a trivial issue? Well the medical literature would disagree*).

This consistency in their message has seen cereals like All-Bran carve out a niche in the marketplace as a brand which addresses real consumer needs, such as balancing the need for a full breakfast and the need to maintain a regular pattern of bowel movements, in a socially acceptable way.

All-Bran: even the Romans knew it keeps you regular

However, relatively recent advertising suggests that All-Bran may be trying to move away from its core value proposition and dominant perception in the marketplace by  attempting to branch out with their communications to reach consumers who may not like the taste, or have some perception of social risk in purchase situations involving All-Bran.  (Seriously, it’s not like the cashier thinks you are constipated if you are buying All-Bran and rushes to tell all their friends…).

Although, these types of branding strategies are relatively common, they risk diluting the strength of the brand by confusing customers through re-positioning the brand and changing its value proposition.  Consequently, All-Brand’s move into the ‘flavour’ category might be risky.  Think not?  Well how many cereals can you name that compete on flavour?  And how many can you name that compete on their ability to send you to the bathroom at regular and predictable intervals?  I thought so.  (If you answer to the latter was higher than the former I suggest you put down your copy of Digestive Endoscopy).

Therefore, this strategy may see All-Bran damage their equity accrued to their brand through moving away from a well-established niche value proposition they had created, to a much larger and riskier segment of the marketplace.  The brand risks becoming as stagnant as those consumers which it has traditionally tried to relieve.

So what does this mean for your brand?  The message here is essentially be consistent and be regular.  If your brand has established a niche image, don’t be ashamed of it and try to change it – embrace it.  And if you are trying to update your message to meet the new marketplace, consider updating the medium rather than the core message.  For instance instead of a new message, All-Bran might consider a new medium, such as an online forum which encourages consumers to exchange stories of how All-Bran has kept their lives regular and dependable.

Something to ponder the next time you are doing some serious thinking about changing your branding strategy.

//Alec Schumann

*Glia, A., Lindberg, G., Nilsson, L. H., Mihocsa, L. & Akerlund, J. E. 1999. Clinical Value of Symptom Assessment In Patients With Constipation. Diseases of The Colon & Rectum, 42, 1401-1408.

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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