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Survival Guide for Brands: How to Protect Your Margins

Salsify | March 27, 2018

When Dollar Shave Club rocked the shaving scene in 2012, they carved a path direct to the digital consumer’s heart: Fulfilling a need with a convenient solution and creating viral and engaging content. At the basis of each of these tactics was trust-building and purchase-driving content, data-driven insights, relevant experiences, and understanding the digital landscape is constantly changing.

As a result, long-time market dominator, P&G’s Gillette, is now trying to make up lost ground. Once boasting a 70% U.S. market share for razors as recent as 2010, that number is now hovering around 54%, and declining.

Digital upstarts, private labels, and more innovative brands are earning higher margins and driving market share in this challenging new commerce environment by delighting consumers, delivering the most relevant and compelling product experiences, catering to price-conscientious shoppers, and surpassing expectations throughout the shoppers’ journey. 

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1. Understand the digital consumer. 

High-fashion brands have, for a long time, notoriously butted against digital selling trends, often citing the accessibility diminished the prestige. Only recently has this been changing with an eye toward investing in digital. Ralph Lauren made significant hires to their internal team to expand their digital presence globally. As CEO Patrice Louvet said, “We have to meet consumers where they are, which is increasingly online, and digital expansion is one critical way we will drive new growth for our iconic business and brand.”

We agree. The rise of digital technology has shifted more power into the hands of shoppers who demand niche products and experiences that are personally relevant to them. Promoting a brand tenant of “inaccessibility” will only stifle brand recognition, relevance, and sales. 

2. Make every touchpoint available as a point of sale.

Sony doesn’t sell direct to consumers online. Instead, they push potentially engaged shoppers off their site to retailers who then provide the experience. As a result, Sony is missing out on key branding and loyalty moments, and their market share has been shrinking.

This is an example of how traditional brand strategies fall short of shopper’s demands. Brands must be where the consumers are and ready to sell when consumers are ready to buy. Salsify's recent consumer research found that 83% of shoppers expect to spend more time on retail web sites in the coming year

3. Create an experience for every touchpoint.

Shoppers crave: personalized, convenient, seamless, engaging. And expect brands to furnish these things without knowing when or where a consumer might come beckoning. As we often say, A single digital touchpoint can make or break your brand’s opportunity for consideration, purchase, or endorsement.

Levi’s is a great example of taking on the future of shopping by utilizing new AI technology and meeting consumers where and when they want to shop. Buying jeans doesn’t just happen in the dressing room anymore and Levi’s has capitalized off this knowledge – big time. In 2017, they reported 7% growth in revenue and improved margins, all while giving digital consumers what they desire.

4. Get consumers to need your product, not just buy it.

We’re guessing if we stole a peek under your bathroom sink, we’d find loads of tried, but unused products. These castaways are the result of brands selling one-way to consumers, using marketing claims and promotions. Conversely, by supplying content that shows how the items are relevant, to be used, and fit into the consumers’ lives, consumers come to rely on your products.

A study published by Harvard Business Review drives home this point by saying, “Purchase brands focus on creating demand to buy the product, while usage brands focus on creating demand for the use of the product.” Included in their research was an online survey of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers who were questioned about 50 different digital and traditional brands. What they found was, “Survey respondents show more loyalty to usage brands. They had stronger advocacy in the form of spontaneous recommendations to others. And they showed a higher preference for usage brands over competitors, not just in making the purchase but in a willingness to pay a premium in price.”

To learn how Salsify’s PXM can help your brand’s content and data repeatedly win on the digital shelf, download the (free) full guide to PXM. 

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