How Does One Stay Premium?—Pt. 2:
In my last post, I laid out the “Do’s” that we discovered in our premium brand study. Now it’s time for me to share with you the “Don’t’s” that we found. And it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise for those of you who are avid followers of certain premium brands.
The most common fatal mistakes of premium brand maintenance include:
– Making your brand ‘accessible’—changing your positioning, product line, messaging, staffing, etc.—to make your brand more available to the masses.
– Cutting corners—Reducing the quality of your materials, ingredients or staffing in order to cut costs and then lower your prices. See the next point for what’s behind this.
– Anxious discounting—repeatedly offering discounts on your premium merchandise in the effort to drive traffic or make quick sales. Danier, a leather apparel company in Canada that makes high quality jackets and garments, has in the last decade nearly destroyed its brand equity in part by compulsively discounting through repeated clearance sales. To the point where consumers now expect a discount. Discounts are for lower market brands, ladies and gentlemen. Use the word “sale” very carefully and quietly.
– Being afraid of coming across as ‘elitist’—shying away from opportunities, images and associations that are too upscale, for fear of scaring off cost-conscious customers. This is not to say that a brand should ever be arrogant or discourteous. In fact, the more premium, the more gracious one’s behavior should be. However, the fear of ‘elitism’ should never cloud one’s judgment.
All of the above stem from one and only one source: lack of confidence. What people expect, above all, from a brand that charges a premium, is confidence. If you’re not confident about the high-quality, hand-crafted shoes you make and the high price you charge for them, why should anyone feel confident wearing them? If you’re not absolutely certain that your airline’s services are superior and that you offer an exceptional in-flight experience, then of course you’re going to cave to pressure to discount. And there goes your premium brand.
It makes sense psychologically, doesn’t it? During times when people are less confident about the economy or the future, their need to rely on brands that are unfailingly confident, have palpable depth, and elevate their mood—only intensifies. For those of us who manage premium brands, it’s our duty in these times to transmit unwavering confidence.