Marketing a leading brand can be challenging, especially when there is fierce competition. The main objective should be defending the number one spot, especially against the challenger brand, which is the closest competitor.
The second brand in the category usually has enough resources to compete with the leader successfully. In fact, there are companies who use the apparent demerit of being the number two brand to boost up their position, making it stronger and memorable.
A clear example is the “We Try Harder” campaign by Avis, a car rental company. There were competing with Hertz, which is the leader.
You should use the opportunity of being the category underdog to make a difference and build up a loyal customer base. The following elements will help the marketer in charge of a challenger brand build a strong strategy:
- Attack the Category Leader
You should set a goal of launching well-planned and calculated attacks against the leading brand. This will enable you gain market share. Mostly, market leaders are big corporations, and with much at hand, they find it difficult to react and adapt to the changes in the market, especially the consumer needs, behavior and desires. Their response to consumer changes seems to be slow.
What do you do then? You should find these weaknesses, monitor them continuously, and act quickly to fill the void.
- Know the Leader’s Strengths and Weaknesses
In order to carryout a solid attack, you need to make a thorough research and also know about the brand positioning, that is what the brand stands for. Also, a thorough knowledge of the strengths and weakness of the brand is highly needed.
You need to make thorough market research and invest heavily in primary and secondary market research, as this will enable you make accurate strategic decisions.
- Go The Opposite Direction
Most challenger brands make that mistake of copying all that the leading brand does. This mistake should be avoided, and as a challenger brand, create in the mind of the consumer a unique and differentiated positioning.
Being the opposite of what the leader is perceived to be is the strongest positioning you can own.
A very big example is a campaign that shook the auto market in the early 60’s. At that time, North America was known for big muscle cars, and this made it hard to market a small odd-looking car.
This was the norm until the manufacturers of Volkswagen Beetle took a bold step and launched the “Think Small” campaign. This campaign, although against perception, was successful, and was voted by Ad Age as the best advertising campaign of the 20th century.
- Be Lively
The leader brand is viewed by many as being big, impersonal, and slow in responding to the needs of customers. Because of this, many people prefer to deal with smaller companies.
As a challenger brand, you should capitalize on this, deploy the necessary resources and gain more customers.
To conclude, you have lots of opportunities as the challenger brand. You should use these opportunities wisely to gain loyal customers and for differentiation. You need to have a different thinking ability, stand tall and be unique.