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A marriage story in marketing: For every strength, there is a weakness

/ 05:01 AM January 10, 2020

Previously, I wrote about three tests to determine value proposition, or the benefits of a product to customers: relevance, uniqueness and believability.

In this article, I will add a dimension that may affect consumers adopting your value proposition. They are called barriers and they come in many forms, such as high prices, lack of access, time and skills, or even negative attitude of consumers. Let me cite why this information is important.

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My wife and I underwent marriage counseling close to two decades ago. Two type-A personalities needed to make their relationship work for the better.

But since we were both open-minded and we had professional counselors guiding us, the relationship worked for the better just as we wanted it to.

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I learned an important lesson that I have applied in marketing since—that a compelling value proposition is never enough, you need to remove barriers. For instance, I can have good qualifications but if I am an absentee husband or father, this weakness will not make my strength any good.

Years ago, I bought a premium shoulder bag to replace a worn out bag that carried my laptop and documents for a really long time. The brand I bought is better known as the Mercedes-Benz of bags for its very high quality and great brand image.

However, I noticed a major change during my various speaking events.

Whereas I would leave my regular laptop bag during lunch time, I would always carry around my premium bag that I became a prisoner to it. I also refused to check-in my premium bag on flights.

There was a barrier to a compelling value proposition and I have since stopped using my premium bag for fear of losing it.

In short, a strength may have a corresponding weakness. Unless resolved, it becomes a barrier to adoption, usage or repeat purchase to a segment of the market.

Decades ago, Johnson and Johnson (J&J) Philippines launched a rubbing alcohol, which quickly grabbed market shares from other brands in the category including the then leading brand, Green Cross.

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J&J is a very strong brand, associating itself with babies and with the characteristics “pure, mild and gentle” as selling points. The firm also used a highly memorable, iconic and emotional advertisement showing a mother with her baby.

However, rubbing alcohol is not mild and gentle.

When Green Cross was pushed against the wall, they fought back and hit the core of J&J.

They hired actress Maricel Soriano, with her no pushover image, to deliver the monologue in an ad: “Ang bacteria, hindi bini-baby, pinapatay (You don’t baby bacteria, you kill it).” It’s a classic defense strategy that J&J would not want to be associated with.

So despite the initial strong sales of J&J rubbing alcohol, they had to phase out the product. What is available on the shelves now is not J&J, but another brand of its own, Band-Aid Rubbing Alcohol.

Marketers and entrepreneurs must remember the steps in formulating their value proposition, but must remove any barriers to its adoption. The three questions below can serve as guide:

What are the pain points that burden customers that we can solve and incorporate in our product or service features?

After solving pain points, what is an important feature that can become our key differentiator? Can we be believable with this differentiator?

What are barriers to adoption that we need to remove to make it really compelling for consumers? —CONTRIBUTED

Josiah Go is the chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. The 11th Market Masters Conference featuring 15 CEOs is scheduled on March 18, 2020 at the Resorts World Manila. Please visit www.marketmastersconference.com

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