Celebrity marketing: Cutting through the clutter

ONE of the biggest challenges facing retailers is the lack of differentiation among their stores.

A walk into these stores will reveal the monotony of merchandise on the shelves. Gondola after gondola is the same product retailer after retailer.

Stocking celebrity brands may be one way of differentiating a retailer’s product offering. A celebrity brand is a brand that teams up with a celebrity.

The celebrity becomes the spokesperson for the brand. A celebrity puts a face on the brand and helps crystalise the target market. He or she leverages his or her equity on the brand. Celebrity lines are an obvious way for retailers to generate buzz.

This enhances the image of a brand and brings loyalty among customers. Celebrity lines inspire allegiance unlike house brands that have an enduring notion that they are cheap and not as good as national brands and celebrity brands.

A recent study that I undertook of the house brands of one major retailer confirmed this phenomenon. House brand sales are lower than those of national brands because of their perceived inferiority.

Consumers feel better about brands with a name attached to them. They feel better about using them, wearing them and they feel better about buying them and giving them as gifts.

This is why celebrity name brands are more resistant to a downturn. Consumers feel a personal connection to famous name brands. People buy celebrity brands not just for what the products do, but what they mean.

Celebrity brands do not only add flair to the stores, but they have a spillover effect. Customers are attached to a certain retailer because of the cache of a given celebrity brand, but they may ultimately buy other items they had not intended to buy, a phenomenon known in the retail realm as “cross shopping”.

Celebrity partnerships of yesteryear that come to my mind are Sitshengisiwe Moyo the then Miss Zimbabwe and the brand Lux.

Lux took advantage of her beauty and status and partnered with her to take their brand to greater heights.

Olivine cooking oil partnered with Oliver Mtukudzi and I remember he sang the jingle, . . . clearly the best, Olivine.

Most Zimbabweans relate to Oliver Mtukudzi’s music and the brand that he represents would obviously be popular. Of late Mtukudzi has partnered with Chicken Inn in the “Mabiko all the Time Promotion.”

When Bruce Grobbelaar partnered with the Therapeadic bed, sales soared as he was the “Dream Team goalkeeper” and he saved many goals during his time.

However, partnering with a celebrity does have its pitfalls.

Exclusive brands are very expensive to execute and require significant effort on the part of the retailer.

Retailers often must commit to large minimum orders to get the best prices on their in-house products and if these products don’t sell they could be left with large and expensive inventory.

The cost becomes substantial because they have another partner, the celebrity on the label, to worry about.

Partnering with a celebrity also changes the way retailers source manufacturing and the approval process becomes much more onerous.

There is a certain aesthetic not just a look or style that really is the entire essence of the line and everyone has to approve. It puts a much greater responsibility on the part of the retailer to keep the brand partner satisfied.

Given the reasons above, retailers must choose their celebrity partner carefully. They have to think carefully about who best represents the brand and who best would excite the customer.

Demographic and psychographic aspects of the target market have to be considered to figure out who best represents the brand.

It would be costly for the retailer to just hang their hat on the flavour of the month, soon it fades away and it is no longer the preferred flavour.

Till next week, keep reading the red brand and remain Brand Savvy.

Our Partners:   NewsDay   The Independent   TheStandard  MyClassifieds