7 Nov 2012
By Angelica Moreno
The second P I’ll take you through is Place. For a brand like Dove, Place is about product distribution and presence in key retailers such as Shopper’s Drug Mart, Rexall, etc. It’s also about ensuring that the multiple products selling across various categories (shampoo, deodorant, body wash etc.) are highly visible to the consumer and that their presence on shelf reflects their market share position in the market.
When translating this into a small business, start with your location. If you’re looking to open an ice cream shop then it obviously makes sense to want to be by the water to take advantage of overheated customers. Well, what if there are another four ice cream and frozen yogurt stores within the same six blocks? That perfect location might not be so perfect if it’s already saturated with established businesses. Frankly, I’m willing to bet that at least two of those are struggling. I’ve seen this many times with coffee shops, bakeries and yes, ice cream parlors.
Retail space can be expensive but,for example, if your business is children’s books, you can’t afford to choose a space that isn’t reputed to be in a one-hundred per cent safe area or one that isn’t easily accessed by someone with a stroller. It just doesn’t make sense. It also doesn’t make sense to choose a location that isn’t heavily populated by families.
The interior space is just as critical. Apple is a great example of a brand that gets this right. Apple promises and delivers a modern, open, interactive, friendly and easy-to-use consumer experience. Think about the last time you were in an Apple store. These spaces are designed to reflect the aesthetics of Apple products – modern, open, interactive, friendly, and easy to use. These are the same attributes that differentiate Apple versus PC such that the stores themselves are an extension of the brand.
A great small business example is a hair salon. A luxury salon needs to feel prestigious. Why would a client visit your establishment if it looks downscale yet charges high-end prices, especially when there are many other salons that are bright, airy and greet you with a latte? Just like in the Apple example, décor does matter because it reflects your business brand. An eclectic café should look like an eclectic café and not like a coffee store chain.
Time and again, small business owners take the position that their business is special and because of the unique service or product, it will become a destination spot causing consumers to flock to it overlooking the location or interior. That type of thinking leads to failure nine times out of 10. Why? Because there are only two ways to make money: raise the price or sell more. If something is inconvenient, or doesn’t deliver on the brand promise, chances of an initial sale, much less repeat sales, drop. Don’t make it hard for your consumers; they shouldn’t have to do the work to get to you or have to compromise on the experience you promised to deliver.
This also applies to service providers. I recently spoke to a planner who learned the importance of location the hard way. She spent more than $5,000 creating a booth and printing materials for a wedding show. It seemed like the perfect place to meet potential clients. Unfortunately, people who hire wedding planners don’t attend wedding shows. These types of events attract more do-it-yourself brides so the investment of +$5,000 was a waste of money and time.
Three key lessons when it comes to space are:
1. Your business needs to be where your consumer is and not where you’d like them to be. By doing the homework into understanding your consumer’s behaviour, you gain the knowledge to make efficient and effective business decisions. Market research isn’t a luxury; it’s critical to any successful business.
2. Review the competitive environment.
Is the area saturated with competition? How many ice cream shops does a neighborhood really need and more importantly, how many can it successfully support? Being realistic can make the difference between the success and failure of your business.
3. Make sure your space reflects your business’ positioning.
As in the Apple Store example, your retail space should reflect your business attributes. It also needs to deliver on the brand promise: whether it is a high-end boutique or an eclectic café, ensure that this is reflected in the space.
Angelica Moreno is a marketing professional who has managed the well-known household brands Becel, Hellmann’s and Sensodyne.