Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"Quality Is a Promise"

In a recent posting on his Brand Builder blog, Blanchard equates the ideas of branding and promise, stressing the importance of this topic to the success of particular products. Beginning with Apple’s iPods, which have consistently broken after only two years of use, he illustrates how the company is simply ‘digging its own grave’ in not delivering on the promise of quality they afford to individuals when they purchase Apple products.

The blog is relevant to marketing issues as it explains, in very rational terms, why individuals buy like they do. The article shed some light on the appeal of brands to consumers. A brand is ultimately intangible and it occasionally seems irrational that buyers choose products based on ‘brand name’ when generic products can often offer better value at lower cost. By explaining the solid benefits of a brand using ideas such as promise and quality, Blanchard rationalizes an irrational behavior. He states it best with this line:

When I buy a brand name product, I am buying the promise of quality. That’s what makes me choose to drop the extra green in the first place.”

Understanding this concept is key to having successful business practices that are satisfying to the consumer.

Blanchard’s posting informs the field of marketing by illustrating the dangers of ignoring this branding principle. Companies that produce shoddy products will not only lose their customers, but will chip away at the value of their brand name. Each defective iPod Apple ships out makes all other iPods, and all other Apple products for that matter, less valuable to the consumer. Neglecting quality and producing at low cost, with corporate profits at the forefront of decision making will likely sink a company. This concept is critical for marketers to understand and has become still more critical with the prevalence of the Internet and mass communication. Bad experiences and dissatisfaction can spread like wildfire. This severely damages company sales and profits, the lines that they were looking to improve in the first place when they took the easy road and sacrificed quality. The posting, itself, is evidence of this: one in a chain of comments on Apple’s iPod, ranging from admission of the defects to ranting on their dissatisfaction.

Additionally, Blanchard adds to marketing practice, suggesting that the severity of negative response rests greatly in consumer expectation: if they don’t expect much, they won’t complain much. For example, if the picks fall off of a $1 hairbrush, the consumer might be slightly annoyed but does not feel the need to unleash fury on the company. He justifies this, noting that such a product is a commodity that one can “buy cheap, replace often.” An iPod, however, is supposed to be a luxury good, with a high price point, an innovative concept and brand name backing. Consumer rage is amplified when the iPod falls apart and, causing consumers to make sure that their stories are heard far and wide. If Apple wishes to be a luxury provider, they have damaged their brand name by trying to produce a commodity good.

This posting enhanced my understanding of this marketing concept, giving me a solid framework on the value of brands to the consumer. As I read on, I became increasingly perplexed, as it seemed ridiculous that some companies, like Apple, do not understand this. Is it not common sense to produce quality goods? Regardless of whether a product is a commodity item or a luxury one, all goods hold consumer expectations. Although luxury purchases will produce more negative response if dissatisfied arises, any dissatisfaction will likely drive consumers to buy substitute products or brands, even if it is only a different gallon of milk. Why not meet those expectations? It appears that many of these manufacturers get caught with tunnel vision and fail to see that providing customer satisfaction is a mutually beneficial exchange that will eventually meet the bottom line that they originally had in sight.

Although I understand length and depth constraints accompany all blogging, it might have been beneficial to provide other possible reasons why consumers choose brands in purchase decisions. For example, consumers often choose products because they hold monopoly as the only product that exists to satisfy a need. For consumers that value large memory space to store their music, iPod essentially has a grip on the market and consumers choose it for this reason. Personally, my simple MP3 does just fine, but memory space is not as large a concern for me. It would have been interesting to hear Blanchard’s take on whether there is more or less pressure to produce quality goods if a manufacturer has such monopolistic status, in light of the fact that they are sure certain consumers will bring their business to them.

Possessing a basic understanding of why consumers choose products and brands is essential to marketers. This knowledge can help shape the practices of companies and could prevent costly marketing mishaps.

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