- Research Feature
- Read Time: 25 min
The sale of branded products through unauthorized channels is a growing problem for suppliers. A three-pronged approach can help them fight back.
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Even the best companies let their customers down sometimes, and many disappoint frequently. The authors lay much of the blame for this on companies’ obsession with uniqueness and differentiation. According to their analysis, companies are too quick to dismiss “category benefits” as a source of advantage. They explain why companies such as Toyota, Cemex, Orange, Medtronic and Sony are successful because they are simply better at offering what customers really want.
At a time when competitive factors have weakened the power of many storied brands, companies can regain an advantage by acquiring or developing a branded feature, service, program or ingredient. As examples, the author cites Westin Hotels, Krispy Kreme, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and many others.
Brand management has evolved from a dialogue between manufacturers and customers into a multilogue with a host of parties. To that end, the authors have developed a theoretical framework that helps companies to better manage brands, proposing the concept of a brand space, based on whether the brand has become independent from its associated product and whether the brand focuses more on the meaning of a product or its functionality.
Increasingly, information technology isn't just for supporting the strategy, it is the strategy. Unfortunately, many CEOs send their managers negative signals about IT's role. Only the "believer CEO," who demonstrates through daily actions a belief in the strategic value of IT, can help others manage effectively in the Information Age. The authors offer examples of such CEOs and give some techniques for addressing blind spots to improve an organization's competitiveness.
Effective service recovery is vital to maintaining customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty, which contribute significantly to a company's revenues and profitability. Yet most customers are dissatisfied with the way companies resolve their complaints, and most companies do not take advantage of the learning opportunities afforded by service failures. The authors provide a research-based approach for helping managers develop a comprehensive service recovery system.
The contention that loyal customers are always more profitable is a gross simplification, according to the authors. They posit that such schemes do not fundamentally alter market structure and, instead, increase market expenditures without really creating any extra brand loyalty. Dowling and Uncles suggest ways to design an effective program.
How can a company successfully attack an established market leader? How can it find new ways to compete that everyone else has missed? By breaking the rules of the game in its industry to find new sources of innovation, says this author. In a study of thirty successful attackers, he identified five ways that they think about and develop a new game plan.
ALTHOUGH RETURNS POLICIES HAVE BEEN WIDELY USED FOR MANY YEARS, THEY CONTINUE TO BE A SOURCE OF CONTROVERSY. THE AUTHORS present a framework that explains when and how to adopt returns policies. They analyze the benefits and costs of accepting returns from distributors, and also compare returns policies to alternative ways of coordinating the distribution channel.
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