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Strategies You’ll Want to Steal: 9 Brand Growth Strategies

October 16, 2019

14 min read

Does your brand growth strategy need a shakeup? If you’re not sure what direction to head in next, it helps to see what others are up to. 

That’s why we’ve gathered together 9 brand growth strategy examples highlighting the different tactics that brands like Cadbury, Starling Bank, and S’well are using to grow revenues. 

With case studies from across a range of sectors, including food and beverage, consumer finance, retail, and gaming, you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Read on for ideas you can apply to your business (don’t worry, even the most original brands sometimes ‘borrow’ stuff!)

But first, what is a brand growth strategy?

A simple definition of a brand growth strategy is setting out to grow brand equity and market share, usually in the long term. A company’s overall plan may include a variety of different strategies that fall into four main categories: market penetration (gaining more of an existing market with an existing product), market development (entering a new market with an existing product), product development (introducing a new product in an existing market) and diversification (introducing a new product in a new market).

9 Brand Growth Strategies You Can Steal

The Ferrara Candy Company Brand Growth Strategy: Mine more data sources

The Ferrara Candy Company has been around for more than 100 years but its approach to marketing is refreshingly modern. With hopes of doubling its sales to $2 billion by 2020, the company has turned to data.

In addition to tracking sales of its products across 120,000 stores, the company’s marketing team is analysing data that shows sales by household, TV viewing by household, and exposure to ad campaigns to see how these factors impact on demand. “The objective is to drive real-time data,” Todd Siwak, CEO of the Ferrara Candy Company, told AdAge.

Household data is gathered through loyalty cards and consumer panels, while exposure data comes through various partners. When combined, it forms Ferrara’s sales lift tracker, which shows by household, five or more weeks after an ad campaign launch, whether products have been purchased for the first time. It also shows whether households exposed to ads spent more per purchase compared to households not exposed.

And by keeping tabs on sales of competing confectionery brands’ products, Ferrera can see how it stacks up against others in the category. This helps the company develop strategies for increasing sales growth of particular product lines. “You can start to build a business plan, which is what we did around Black Forest Organic,” said Siwak. “It also helps us to dimensionalise the size of a business.”

Taking things even more granular, Ferrara can access data sources including the weather in a particular locale, gas prices, local flu outbreaks and information relating to the display of products in grocery stores. What could enhanced data insight do for your marketing? (Read more about the intersection between data and creativity here). 

S’well Brand Growth Strategy: Target young consumers

Since 2010, reusable water bottle company S’well has grown an army of loyal bottle-holders  – and one of the key ways it’s done this is by marketing to young people. 

Founder Sarah Kauss worked alongside the New York mayor to gift 320,000 bottles to students across all five boroughs of the city. The idea behind the stunt is that it’s easier to change the behaviour of young people than adults. Embracing reusable bottles, the kids then encouraged their moms and dads to stop buying plastic disposables at the shop.

Campaign magazine called it one of S’well’s “savviest growth strategies”. “The move flipped around the classic parent-to-child filtration system of behaviour-change marketing,” it said

According to CMO Josh Dean, this strategy helped sustainability be seen as cool and led to S’well being adopted by celebrity fans such as the Beckhams, Ellie Goulding and Julia Roberts. 

And it’s put the brand in a prime position for pushing forwards with its mission for sustainability. S’well’s latest product is an insulated, reusable food container people can bring to takeaway food outlets to avoid single-use plastic containers. S’well plans to work with restaurant brands to provide discounts for anyone who fills up with its Eats bowl.

“We’re already at a point where, without the bottle, people feel like there’s something physically missing in their lives – and that’s an amazing place for a brand to be in,” said Dean. “But we have a responsibility and opportunity to move beyond the bottle.”

Targeting youngsters created a loyal following of brand advocates for S’well. Want to know how your brand can engage Gen Z and do the same? Sign up for our webinar

MoneySupermarket Brand Growth Strategy: Optimise customer experience 

MoneySuperMarket believes a new focus on customer experience will help it win market share in a sector that’s been focused on saving money. 

The new brand growth strategy stems from consumer research the brand carried out in 2017 about people’s attitudes to money, and why they use price comparison sites. As you might expect, the research revealed that 79% of customers like to be in control of their money, and that price comparison plays an important role in that. But the most compelling bit is that customers felt comparing prices could be hard work online, and that there wasn’t enough tailoring of results.

“Customers expect more of technology-enabled brands than just filling in a form of 20 questions and then seeing results in price order,” Chief Customer Officer Darren Bentley told Marketing Week. “They expect more in terms of curation, individually tailored experiences, and higher levels of convenience alongside great value.”

Alongside a company-wide rebrand, new services that underpin MoneySuperMarket’s strategy include a credit monitoring app and a bill monitoring tool. Both make the user experience more personalised and relevant, and are designed to change the nature of MoneySuperMarket’s relationship with its customers.

“The relationship customers have had with MoneySuperMarket has been very transactional,” said Bentley. “It’s been come in, save money on car insurance/energy then come back to us in 12 or 18 months when you need to switch again. 

“The hope is we are now in the background, helping you with your credit score and using that to make tailored recommendations and make it easier to stay on top of your money. Then we’re in an ongoing conversation.”

To learn more about carrying out research to uncover consumer wants and needs, check out our Complete Guide to Survey Creation.

 Graze Brand Growth Strategy: Adding a distribution channel 

Healthy snack brand Graze kicked off the subscription box revolution in 2008, but the market has come a long way since then. There are now endless options for subscription services and this has made it tougher for Graze to compete. 

The brand responded to this challenge by expanding from an exclusively direct-to-consumer model, into retail. Graze products are now available in supermarkets and high street stores. Adding a new distribution channel turned out to be a winning brand growth strategy – Graze has recently been bought by Unilever. 

Graze’s CMO, Pia Villa, told Marketing Week: “Retail we see as our channel to drive market penetration for the brand. Our launch into retail has not had any negative impact on our direct-to-consumer business, actually, we’ve found it’s the reverse. Ultimately, retail is the majority of our business and is also the growth engine and strategy for the future as well.”

Villa adds that while Graze couldn’t have achieved its growth without retail, D2C remains an important channel for brand building and market research.

“Direct-to-consumer allows us to tap into a slightly younger, more millennial target group, which typically food brands find more difficult to connect with. We use it as a much quicker and cheaper market research tool by harnessing our community to test concepts. When we launch new ideas or packaging designs basically overnight we can get feedback from hundreds of thousands of people, so it’s an important source of intelligence for the retail business as well.”

Graze shows that distribution channels can complement one another rather than having to compete against each other. So, if your brand currently relies on retail, why not consider a subscription offering – or something else entirely? 

Starling Bank Brand Growth Strategy: Focus on brand building

Starling Bank has embarked on a brand-building exercise as it seeks to stop being “banking’s best-kept secret” and become a household name.

The challenger bank now boasts 900,000 accounts but aims to expand further through a brand growth strategy that includes TV advertising. Its first ever ad, which debuted in October, shows starlings taking flight across the countryside, accompanied by a cover of Avicii’s ‘Feeling Good’. It highlights how the app links businesses and their customers. 

Rachael Pollard, Chief Growth Officer at Starling Bank, told The Drum: “Our aim is to make Starling a household name, pursuing our mission to free the UK from cumbersome and outdated banking. As we fast approach one million customers, the time is right to accelerate our marketing strategy and stop being one of banking’s best-kept secrets.”

TV advertising is just one tactic for brand building. The best place to start? Experiment with your marketing and discover what has the biggest impact with brand tracking. Learn more with our Complete Guide to Brand Tracking.  

Sainsbury’s Brand Growth Strategy: Forming a strategic partnership

You don’t have to be working against your competitors when looking to grow market share – Sainsbury’s and Asda announced they were teaming up last year to create the UK’s biggest supermarket group. 

The idea behind the partnership is to allow both brands to benefit from increased economies of scale, allowing them to bring prices down for customers. Sainsbury’s and Asda said they would operate a “dual-brand strategy”, keeping both brand identities intact. 

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “The combination of Asda and Sainsbury’s into a single retailing group will be great news for Asda customers, allowing us to deliver even lower prices in store and even greater choice.

“Asda will continue to be Asda, but by coming together with Sainsbury’s, supported by Walmart, we can further accelerate our existing strategy and make our offer even more compelling and competitive.”

Sainsbury’s said enhanced purchasing power following the merger would allow it to lower prices by approximately 10% on many of the products customers buy regularly. On Twitter, the brand said: “We’re creating a dynamic new player in UK retail – three well-known, trusted brands in Sainsbury’s, Asda & Argos. We plan to operate a dual-brand strategy in grocery, with the scale to invest in the areas that matter most to customers: price, quality and more flexible ways to shop.”

The bold growth strategy will help the supermarkets tackle competition from discount stores Lidl and Aldi, as well as the growing threat of Amazon in the grocery sector. But partnerships don’t just apply to mega-brands like these; teaming up with a competitor could work equally successfully for less established brands, especially if you’re operating in a small market.  

Cadbury Brand Growth Strategy: Produce original content

Think original content is just for the likes of Amazon and Netflix? Nuh-uh. Now, all sorts of brands are getting in on the act. Cadbury has just released a 22 minute-long film shot as part of its brand growth strategy for its Heroes range.

The film is the first in a series called ‘Families Reunited’, which focuses on real parents trying to reconnect with their distant teens by going on a “crash course” to understand their hobbies.

“It’s a brand often in the home where entertainment is: in the lounge, being shared. So, we thought we could make our own entertainment and find ways to share that with people,” Michael Moore, Senior Brand Manager at Mondelez, told The Drum.

He added that the brand would use Facebook, Instagram and regular TV to direct people to the films. “We’re seeing that shift to people streaming content online so it does still fit with the habits that people are displaying already.”

In addition to the film series, Cadbury has also forged partnerships with Global Radio and Spotify to curate a branded playlist for families. The strategy shows how diversification into new areas, such as production of on-demand entertainment, can be used to promote growth of existing products.

Pizza Hut Brand Growth Strategy: Returning to its roots

You wouldn’t normally look back to go forwards, but sometimes a return to your roots can make sense for growth. This was the case for Pizza Hut, which says it had lost sight of what it stood for in North America. 

“As we evolved, our tone changed and there really wasn’t a clear understanding of what we stood for,” Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s Chief Brand Officer, told The Drum. “We should never have lost sight of where we came from, and that’s the fact we were born in a restaurant, not a boardroom. That’s really a point of difference for us within the category.”

The brand decided to tap into consumer nostalgia by resurrecting its red-roof logo that ran between 1967 and 1999. It has also adopted a bolder tone of voice to assert the brand’s position as an American icon.

“Pizza Hut is an American, iconic classic that’s ingrained in people’s hearts and minds,” said Radley.  “We attest that to the fact we really were the original pizza company – the first national pizza chain – and we’re celebrating that with a little more of a confident and unapologetic tone.”

The strategy is backed by qualitative research conducted with more than 3,000 consumers that found people still consider Pizza Hut as “the OG of the pizza category.”

To reconnect with the original essence of Pizza Hut, the brand’s marketing team trawled through company archives, finding old menus, recipe cards and photos. It reminded them of the style the restaurant was once famed for: checked tablecloths, red glass tumblers and Tiffany-style lamps.

“It made us see that when the Carney brothers first founded the chain, their big thing was having more guts than brains. We thought to ourselves, we need to have more guts in what we’re doing and be more confident. I think we shied away from that over the years.”

GameStop Brand Growth Strategy: Invest in bricks and mortar 

Video gaming, by its very nature, is centred around digital experiences. But US gaming brand GameStop is convinced it can stimulate growth by investing in bricks and mortar stores. 

GameStop wants to bring video game culture to life in every neighborhood and has partnered with innovation design firm, R/GA, to create unique in-store experiences.

The new approach follows research that identified four major motivations people have for playing video games: immersion, achievement, creativity and community.

As a result, GameStop is developing and piloting new store concepts, such as locations that sell strictly retro gaming software and hardware, and stores that offer competitive sessions for homegrown e-Leagues. 

“We’re on a journey to use our vast retail footprint to provide an engaging and well thought out experience that enhances our consumers’ gaming interests,” Frank Hamlin, Chief Customer Officer at GameStop, told Campaign

“Among its many strengths is R/GA’s ability to leverage consumer insights and technology to reimagine the experience our consumers can have in our physical space. Our investment in this partnership is the next stage of our transformation and growth strategy.”

And if you remember nothing else…

Keeping a close eye on what other brands are doing is one of the best ways to understand what your brand should be doing. While you should pay particular attention to your direct competitors’ brand growth strategy, don’t ignore growth tactics being used successfully elsewhere. Borrowing ideas from unrelated industries and applying them to your own can result in the best innovation. 

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