POSTED BY: | September 17, 2015

This post originally appeared in the September issue of Hendricks County Business Leaders.

Balancing price and value is a perpetual battle for marketers – but now emphasis is totally upon price and place. While all consumers seek great deals, it can often become a hollow victory for a brand. It seems like consumers are willing to forgo attentive service or lasting quality in pursuit of the absolute lowest possible price. Self-serve everything, eat in your car fast food, online shopping, and discounted gas all arrives stripped of any engaging value beyond product functionality and accessibility.

Research clearly indicates that, without an emotional engagement that triggers intrinsic consumer value, a product for cash exchange engenders little brand connection – and definitely little loyalty. Yet, manufactures have abandoned safeguarding brand loyalty as they drive consumerism toward a willingness to interchange bands at each purchase.

Customers are self-navigating in the discovery, purchasing, processing, servicing, and construction of products. Of course, this ownership of the selling and purchasing process does trigger an intrinsic sense of pride (the customer has snagged the best price for himself). However, this self-directed victory completely undermines the influence of brand – it’s all about delivering an on-demand deal that meets an immediate need.

The self-directed selling tactic has shifted the power of a brand from the producers to the distributors – thus Amazon has more brand clout than the product’s manufacturer, Etsy has more brand loyalty than the artist, and Pinterest has more brand value than the idea’s originator. Retailers like Office Max, HH Gregg and Hallmark are becoming obsolete trying to compete with free shipping, overnight delivery, and promotional codes that are conveniently delivered to mobile devices. Even supermarkets are feeling pressure from online shopping with next day delivery. As such, retailers are clamoring to employ, not battle, consumernavigated purchasing channels. How many times have you shopped in a store and then purchased the product cheaper online?

So can a brand compete and retain clout balancing price/accessibility? While innovaLosing your brand to lower prices Jim Ittenbach COLUMNIST tive functionality does win, it is often short lived (Apple). Brands like Hoover and Bissell lost market leadership to lower priced Sharp’s innovation. Conversely, Dyson obtained brand loyalty delivering an innovation that triggers pride at three times their price. Brand loyalty is achievable, but only by understanding the emotions driving consumer’s usage! A winning combination will engage, enlighten, empower, and energize emotional attributes when consumers connect with your brand. Live long and prosper.