How to Brand a Bargain

February 16, 2017

By Sanjana Mathur

Everyone loves a bargain, whether it is free “dhaniya” from your vegetable vendor or a stylish pair of stilettos at half price, and that’s what makes it one of the main benefits that any brand considers offering its customers.

“We provide the best value”

“You won’t get a better price anywhere else”

“Cheapest on the market”

These ought to be compelling reasons for anyone to consider buying your brand, especially so in a price sensitive market like India. However, curiously these products don’t always perform well. One just has to look at the failure of the Tata Nano car to gain traction.

As put by Dheeraj Sinha in his book, ‘India Reloaded: Inside India’s Resurgent Consumer Market’:

“Why do the poorest people in the world not want the cheapest products?”

It’s clear that there is more to branding affordable products than slapping on a discount sticker. To help brands that want to position themselves around being affordable, we tapped into the brainpower of some of Landor Mumbai’s most experienced for their tips on how to brand a bargain.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Just because it is cheap, doesn’t mean it has to be frumpy or unstylish

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Globally, IKEA consistently delivers great designs at affordable prices. In the USA, Target’s center of gravity is well-designed products endorsed by designers at very affordable prices.

Closer to home, IndiGo Airlines achieves this very well. Although it is unabashedly clear about the fact that it is a low-cost air carrier, it does not skimp on the personality and style quotient!

2. Empower your consumer

Some brands are strategically hinged on the proposition of a “good bargain” such as BigBazaar and PaylessShoes. They cater to a mindset of “conquests – winning a good deal”. You will be surprised to find BMW cars in the parking lot of a BigBazaar!

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The mobile phone company OnePlus is another great example of such a brand. When they launched they were known as ‘the flagship killer’, packing features to rival Apple and Samsung at half the price. Their brand belief? “Never Settle”.

3. Offer unlimited aspiration in bite-sized pieces

‘Small is big’ has always been an important factor for mass consumption. Today one gets a sachet pack for almost everything, including pickles! Thanks to EMIs, it is now easy for consumers across India to own expensive gadgets, furniture and even finance holidays.

Shampoo, snacks, jewellery. Many brands are using this approach to offer consumers the very best in affordable portion sizes.

4. When fighting a price war, give customers a reason to stay

When your selling point is price, it is easy for competitors to undercut you, and difficult to drive consumer loyalty. At times like this it is crucial to have mechanisms in place to keep customers by your side.

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Loyalty programs or membership benefits can be a good way to achieve this. Whether it is Amazon Prime or Ola Select, customers are incentivized to choose them every time.

5. Be the best value for money, not the cheapest option available

Indian consumers want more for less, not less for less. Before communicating price, communicate desirability. Provident Housing by Purvankara and Joyville by SPRE are focused on maximizing desirability and value for their customers.

Conversely, if a product’s defining feature is just being the cheapest, then it isn’t worth the bargain. Tata Nano failed because it was selling people affordability when they were seeking aspiration.

The emerging truth for today’s companies that are marketing affordable products to Indian consumers is this: when building your brand, don’t forget to make it desirable first. When it’s all about more bang for your buck, make sure there’s enough flash to match the bang

* Featured image by Thomas Hawk (Flickr)

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