The image profile of supermarket banners in Exhibit 2.14 is constructed using the profiling techniques described in the article Brand Image Tracking. The attributes are grouped according to factors, with the important factors placed towards the top, and less important ones towards the bottom. This chart reveals the distinct positioning of each of the chains.
The spider charts in Exhibits 2.15-2.18 reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a brand’s image from the viewpoint of regular shoppers. The approach for constructing these charts is as follows:
The analysis reveals how each brand is rated vis-à-vis its competitors. The key points emerging from analysis of the charts in Exhibits 2.14–2.16 are as follows:
The data that we have been referring to over the course of this chapter is apt for studying the application of store equity research. Exhibits 2.3-2.6 depict the loyalty pyramid, loyalty matrix and the loyalty segments for some supermarkets. Exhibit 2.10 depicts their store equity indices. The relevant brand image attributes and factors, factor importance, and attribute importance are covered in Exhibits 2.11-2.13; and the banner image ratings are covered in Exhibits 2.14-2.18. Collectively these exhibits provide thorough insights into customers’ shopping behaviour and their perceptions of the major banners.
Consider the supermarket chain Inulas. At first glance it would appear from Exhibit 2.17 that Inulas is not aligned with shoppers’ priorities. It is strong mainly on attributes of low importance, and it is weak on those attributes, namely price and location, that are of greatest importance to shoppers.
It is important to note, however, that whatever strategy Inulas adopts, it must be aligned to the needs and preferences of its target shoppers. It is apparent from Exhibit 2.10 that the banner is targeting upmarket shoppers (Inulas’ equity index is 4.3 for high income homes, compared to 0.8 for low income homes). To draw conclusions and recommendations, we should therefore refer to Exhibit 2.18, where the image rating analysis is drawn on the high income segment. As can be seen from this exhibit, the banner’s positioning is better aligned with the factors that drive its target shoppers. Moreover, on this base of high income shoppers, Inulas outperforms market leader Fujimart on a number of attributes.
Though “low price” and “value for money” are the prime weak spots, it may not be advisable for Inulas to shifts its focus to these areas as it is hard to alter perceptions 180°, and lowering prices will erode the margins that the chain needs to support superior services. Moreover, by drawing attention to attributes where it is perceived as weak, the chain would inadvertently reinforce their importance in shoppers’ minds.
It is advisable instead that Inulas focusses on areas of strength, remaining well differentiated from Fujimart and the other banners. To expand its shopper base, it should evoke through advertising, greater desire amongst shoppers for better quality products, wider variety, and superior shopping experience. Drawing shoppers’ attention to these areas of strength would motivate them to shop at Inulas. Markets after all, are dynamic; the importance in driving brand equity, of those attributes where Inulas’ core strengths lie, can be reinforced through marketing.
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