I want to tell you a tale of two brands - and my experiences with them - that will explain why some brands can charge a premium. It also shows why some brands are better loved than others and what you can do to improve yours.
Like many busy working mums, I order my food shop online. Contrary to what my children believe, food shopping is not a task that I relish. It is tedious. Not least because you have to do it week after week after week (it's so annoying how everyone keeps needing to be fed, right?) Which is why anything that can make the experience easier will be appreciated.
I have used Ocado for years because they were the first company to deliver to where I used to live. And because I had all my favourite foods saved in the system, it was easier for me to keep going back to them.
However, Ocado has two problems. First, if you forget to order your food until the evening, it's unlikely you'll manage to get a delivery slot for the next day - unless you're prepared to wait until 10pm at night. Second, it is more expensive despite claiming to price match. I've been prepared to pay the premium though thanks to the convenience and the fact that they guarantee the food life, rather than giving you a bunch of stuff that is about to go off the day it is delivered (glares at Tesco and Morrisons....).
This week I decided to try Sainsburys online as I'd left it too late to get an Ocado delivery and even my ready steady cook abilities were being challenged (there's only so much you can do with half a bag of cous cous and some baked beans.) As I regularly shop an in store Sainburys and as I have a Nectar card that tracks all my shopping purchases, all of my favourites should be stored in Sainsbury's system. And Sainsburys has a new tool that allows you to import your favourites from another online shopping site. All of which should make it easy. Right?
Except that using the Sainsbury's site is difficult. It's hard to navigate to find the things I want. It's just not intuitive. And once you have things in your trolley and you want an overview of what you've got, it's difficult to get a single view to check what you're missing. If you want to add or delete something in your trolley, the page reloads after each addition, meaning that you have to scroll down to where you were in your list again. You lose your place and it takes an age. As a result, I ended up with two jars of honey and no bread in this week's shop.
But it's not just the IT user interface that is less pleasant with Sainsburys. When you order from Ocado, you get a cheeky text message reminding you that Bob in the Onion van will be with you in the next hour. Just that little message personalises the experience. And when Bob in his onion van arrives, he is smiling and helpful, taking the bags out of the crates, offering to carry them in for you or at least handing them to you. Then he'll ask whether you want to return any shopping bags and will give you a cheery goodbye.
Contrast that with Sainsburys. No text or reminder that anyone is coming. No personalisation. When the unnamed delivery guy arrived he had the crates stacked outside the door and stood back and watched as I wrangled the bags free, even though he could have started to ready the next set of bags as I carried a load into the kitchen. He didn't offer to take old bags and wasn't particularly friendly.
After an Ocado shop, I feel a tiny bit of joy, that hard to name feeling that comes from a pleasant experience and a sense that the world is a friendly place. After the Sainsburys shop, I felt 'meh', just another job ticked off my to do list.
My point is this: A brand isn't what your logo or colour scheme says it is. Your brand is everything that you do - from user experience, to tone of voice use, to quirky additions to friendliness of customer service. And, the easier you make it for people to buy from you, the more likely they are to do it.
If Sainsburys polished up its customer service, made it's online shopping experience more user friendly and added a few clever marketing twists, I'd use it as it's cheaper and it's easier to get a delivery. Hey Sainsburys, I've got some ideas for you if you want them!
You don't need to be a giant supermarket chain to implement ideas that build brand loyalty. Even if you're a solopreneur, if you are battling to differentiate your brand from multiple other similar offerings out there, take a look at the little things you could change to delight your customers and to make it easier for them to work with you. Even a little change could make a huge difference.
If you fancy brainstorming ideas with someone to get clarity on how to differentiate your brand, book my Campfire Clarity session. To make it super easy for you, click HERE to find out more about it or click HERE to email me to set up a free 15 minute campfire chat to find out whether I am really what you need before you commit to buy.