Dr Pepper’s lessons on brand loyalty

Long-time Taskmaster readers will remember your humble correspondent took a brief look at some marketing lessons from the cola wars late last year. If you missed it, here’s the link in case anyone mentions it.

 

Anyway, the basic lesson was that if you can’t be the King Kong gorilla of your industry and increase your sales by growing your product category, like Coke does, aim more directly for the largest demographic for your product category, as Pepsi does with teenagers.

 

Of course, as Old Taskmaster has repeatedly been reminded since then, there is a third major brand of carbonated caffeinated sugar water in the world caught up in these cola wars. Some will say it’s close to the nectar of the gods as you will get in a can of concentrated high-fructose corn syrup.

 

However, to a large percentage of the human race, its combination of 23 flavours taste like an ungodly combination of cough syrup, sarsaparilla and the bitter tears of a sheltered child who begs her parents to buy her a sweet fizzy drink treat at the shopping centre food court only to discover for the very first time that life is just not fair.

 

That’s right, your humble correspondent is talking about Dr Pepper. And Old Taskmaster is quite fond of the unexpected bitter taste of disappointment – especially for its marketing insights.

 

Dr Pepper is a brand insofar as it is certainly a niche product, yet not targeted to a specific audience based around a specific gender, age group, ethnicity, religious affiliation, educational attainment, income level or any other traditional demographic group.

 

Instead, the brand works on maintaining the brand loyalty of a core group of consumers – dubbed “peppers” in its advertising – while encouraging new potential buyers to sample the product. Most of those sampling will only do so once, but a few will become regular consumers. It also needs to stand out in a highly contested marketplace alongside some of the world’s most recognisable brands, such as Coke and Pepsi.

 

So how do you generate a unique brand with strong consumer loyalty in a highly contested marketplace?

 

One way to do it is to hire David Naughton, best known as the star of An American Werewolf in London, to star in commercials where a crowd of people in everyday situations spontaneously start dancing with elaborate over-the-top choreography to an annoying brain-worm of a jingle. Like this:

 

 

Now, if you’re just planning or starting a business for the first time, you probably won’t have the budget for something quite that elaborate. However, there are some lessons from this brand you might be able to apply to your own.

 

For example, how do you refer to your consumers – do you have a term they can identify with like Dr Pepper’s “peppers”? Do you encourage your customers to identify themselves as being consumers of your product? In what ways is your product easily identifiable and different from your competitors, especially in a crowded marketplace?

 

Old Taskmaster says your business won’t start out with the budget of Coke or Pepsi. But with a little planning and brainstorming, your business could be a “pepper” too.

 

Get it done – today!

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