There are a lot of options out there these days. Take a close look at the shelves in your supermarket, convenience store, club store, even local gas station or food cart—there’s a drink for almost any need-state and for almost any personal preference. With so much to choose from, the question often is asked: How does one particular brand top the charts?
It’s a question I ask of brand owners and company leaders—what’s the key to success that unlocks the purchasing power of a consumer and leads them to choose your brand over another time and time again?
There’s no easy answer. And that’s because when a consumer falls in love with a brand, it’s not because of one reason; it’s because of many.
It has to do with the first time you were introduced to that brand, the taste of it, the look of it and how much it costs. From there, it’s about consistency, availability in the market and how you feel when holding that product in your hand. Today, consumers also are concerned with where the brand comes from, how it’s produced, if it contributes to society at large through promotions or its corporate structure—is the company that markets or produces the brand a good corporate citizen?
Finding a brand that matches you is like finding a partner. Initial attraction, values, timing, common interests all play a role in deciding whether a first date turns into two, into three and so on.
The brands that have been successful—such as Monster Energy, Beverage World’s Liquid Refreshment Beverage Company of the Year—often refer to themselves as lifestyle brands. Consumers choose that beverage over a competitor’s because of its messaging and what that brand represents, whether that’s hard core action sports, an organic way of living, or luxury.
Finding a match is only half the battle though. The hard part becomes keeping that relationship going and maintaining your fan base.
Jumping on the bandwagon with the latest trend isn’t going to cut it. Consumers are looking for authenticity and they want to be heard when they feel that they’ve been betrayed in some way, and expect to see solutions.
Overall, brands that have managed these relationships successfully have maintained their loyal following by otherwise staying true to what consumers know them to be. Cases in point are the recent misteps of two strong brands—Coca-Cola, with the confusion around its promotional white holiday can, and Tropicana with its packaging change that went wrong.
Even though no relationship is perfect, it’s how companies recover from the small battles that makes their bond with consumers that much stronger. And at a time when the lines of communication are so open with social media outlets, there is no excuse to not be listening to what your consumer has to say.
Love is a tricky thing to conquer—in the beverage world or otherwise. But with a good product, hard work, a consistent product and message and open-ended conversations with your fans, finding a perfect match that can last a lifetime is possible.