Monday, July 6, 2015

Brand Accessibility

BrandForward's BrandInsistence (SM) brand equity measurement system recognizes that there are five drivers of customer brand insistence - awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility and emotional connection. I talk a lot about relevant differentiation in the context of brand positioning and every brand manager knows that brand awareness is the keystone of brand equity building. I haven't talked much about brand accessibility, however. 

If a person has a preference for a particular brand, he will consistently purchase that brand if it is equally accessible to competitive brands. If it is not, he may forgo the purchase until it is accessible or he may purchase a competitive brand instead. 

I typically use two examples of this. One is someone who slightly prefers Coca-Cola over Pepsi. As long as there is Coca-Cola in the nearby vending machine, he will purchase Coca-Cola. If he encounters an out-of-stock situation for Coca-Cola in that machine on a given day, he has several options - search out another source of Coca-Cola, purchase Pepsi instead or forego a soft drink altogether. 

Another example I use is a high school student choosing a college. If her preference is Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) but that school rejects her, that option is inaccessible to her. If RISD places her on the waiting list, her accessibility to that school is diminished. If she is accepted but with a year's deferral, again her accessibility is diminished. Finally, if she is accepted but that school provides an inferior financial aid package compared to her other options, again her accessibility is diminished. In any of those situations, she may choose to go to her second choice school instead of Rhode Island School of Design.

I recently purchased a Hobie Getaway sailboat. I live in a suburb of Rochester, NY. When I tried to go online to order needed parts for the sailboat, I discovered that Hobie ( does not allow one to order parts directly from them. One must go through an authorized local dealer. Further, I discovered that the nearest two authorized dealers were 67 miles away in Buffalo and 76 miles away in Syracuse. I do not feel like driving an hour and fifteen minutes in each direction paying New York State Thruway tolls to buy a couple of parts. For fun, I looked up the closest Hobie dealer to Yellowknife, Canada. Hobie's dealer locator returned the information that the "nearby dealer" is 616 miles away in Edmonton, AB. I understand the wish to support local dealers, but when there are no local dealers, one should have other options. Mine will be to purchase non-Hobie parts at one of my local marine supply stores (of which there are several in Rochester). 

Also, see this blog post on the Power of Distribution.

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