June 25, 2006

it's the customers, stupid

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Good point from wine journo, Jamie Goode re. the wine trade, in the gapingvoid comments:

The big retailers hold the winning hand. They have the customers. The footfall. In a world of over-supply, the people making the stuff tend to get stuffed. [...] If you make wine, your best hope is to create a strong brand that the retailers 'need'. Otherwise, you're always negotiating from a position of weakness, because they have what you need - customers.
[Scots whisky manufacturer, James Thomson replies in the comments below:]
Supermarkets neither distribute or control information or word of mouth. Reputation can be quickly eroded - so small producers should never give up as there is always another path.

We have decided to create a drinks product that will never be made available to large retailers - ever. We don't need them and we don't like them that much.

Posted by hugh macleod at June 25, 2006 9:20 PM | TrackBack
Comments

The big retailers may have strength but need not always hold the winning hand. If I had the attention of consumers who trust me I have a strength - however if I am a big retailer (dominated by supermarkets) I may have the convenience of distribution and access for products, but I will have to tread carefully with the needs of the very top echelon of consumers - there is growing distrust, not so much about the best products that a supermarket may stock, but the effect of supermarkets on society. Supermarkets neither distribute or control information or word of mouth. Reputation can be quickly eroded - so small producers should never give up as there is always another path.

We have decided to create a drinks product that will never be made available to large retailers - ever. We don't need them and we don't like them that much.

Posted by: James Thomson at June 25, 2006 10:24 PM

Good point James. I am sure of equally valid concern for a brand that goes some lengths to make itself the brand of choice in its "niche", is the erosion of the brand identity through its inclusion in a bog-standard shelf position next to other products who may have neither the image, reputation nor quality to justify their price.

The watering-down of brands by supermakets, sold by staff who have no idea is a travesty and (please do not take this in any way patronisignly!) you should be commended for taking a stance against mass-consumerism.

Posted by: Paul Fabretti at June 26, 2006 10:01 AM

Whilst this comment may be at a slight tangent to the current topic, i think it fits within the 'conversation' here at gapingvoid. It is also very much in the spirit of what James says above.

My favourite band, the English folk* duo Show of Hands are a great example of how to create a reputation. They have been together for nearly fifteen years and have steadily built up a fan base, primarily in the West Country but now national and international.

They are on their way to selling out the Royal Albert Hall for the third time, they sold three thousand tickets in the first 48 hours after tickets went on sale earlier this month, (the gig doesn't happen until April 2007)!

They own their own label, publish their own music and now via iTunes. They ran an email list for fans before the web really got going and have a strong website, a very active fanbase and fans website and a new myspace page.

They are excellent musicians, have great stagecraft and sell out 40 date tours at theatre venues across the country. They sing about uncommercial things like rural poverty, the negative influence of supermarkets, the reality of life in the country, and local issues. Their last single was deemed too political for Radio 2.

It seems to me that they tick a lot of Hugh's boxes in terms of a microbrand.


* if the word folk, just made your eyes glaze over, why? if the only images associated with that word are negative, don't worry, keep drinking the major record companies' Kool-Aid there will be another soulless (Simon Cowell influenced) boy band/ girl band along in a moment.

Folk try it, you might like it...

Posted by: Will at June 26, 2006 10:43 AM

How can a customer be stupid? While i was reading this blog it just reminded me a quote by Philip Kotler a marketing guru" Customer is king".

Upto an extent he was right as this saying if kept in mind can give you an end number opf customers who will rely on salesman, marketers like anything. So if you befool them they will not even come to know that!

Posted by: Peter at June 26, 2006 1:20 PM

Hugh, I think you'll get a kick out of this "comic" here:

http://qcjeph.livejournal.com/53416.html?view=2866600#t2866600

I imagine that's what somebody will be saying sooner or later.

Posted by: Fenmere at June 28, 2006 4:35 AM