Electronic Retailer - February 2012 - (Page 58)

RICK PETRY b 58 MINI Me shrapnel. Oh, I dutifully sat in every gas-guzzling SUV and luxury sedan knowing full well that in the end we would do exactly what we did: We bought another Honda Odyssey Minivan. Soccer moms rock their own brand patina; it’s just that their idea of a tailgate party is when the tailgate opens automatically. Yet it was at that very auto show that I fell in love again – with a MINI Cooper S. Here was a line that spoke to me: British racing heritage, over a million customizable variations, nothing short of irreverence on four wheels. And the gas mileage – so good I was able to construct a carbon-footprint argument to sway the better half on how rational a decision it was to buy a convertible in a city where it rains 167 days a year. However, that first encounter at the convention center was just the beginning of a brand seduction that has continued to flourish. For a MINI isn’t just a car – it’s a culture, and the company does a phenomenal job of cultivating its buyers. The welcome package I received contained an array of materials all designed to inspire positive feelings about the purchase decision – including a cheeky motoring manual, a MINI luxury magazine, stickers to affix on your visor, even a smiley face ball for your antenna. But perhaps the cleverest item of all was the “Chief Motorist” welcome card affixed with a paperclip in the silhouette of – what else – a MINI Cooper. What may seem like the most insignificant detail proved that with the right touch, even the tiniest feature is capable of communicating passion. Achieving this sort of brand affinity is no easy task. A marketer has to buy into it heart and soul. It requires imagination, a lot of trial and error, and the ability to see beyond the associated costs. But in those moments when an advertiser is vying for attention, it is these sorts of nuances that can help win the war to capture an audience’s fancy. They say the devil is in the details, but when rendered right, it is those devilish details that can cause a chorus of angels to erupt. That is the soundtrack of success, as consumers reach for their wallet, their brand patina awash in a vivid new color; a color brought to life by the brilliant brushstrokes of a marketer’s ingenuity. Rick Petry is a freelance writer who specializes in direct marketing and is a past chairman of ERA. He can be reached at (503) 740-9065, online at rickpetry. com or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thepetrydish. Brands matter and here is why: Everyone is a brand comprised of a mosaic of singular attributes – from quirky personality characteristics to physical appearance, our circle of friends and especially the consumer items we surround ourselves with. The latter might be called our brand patina, and it ranges from the shoes we wear to the vehicle we drive to the books we cozy up to at night. Conscious or not, we make instantaneous decisions about whether something is going to enter the consideration set of our brand patina in the flick of a dismissive or accepting blink. It occurs on an almost subliminal level where a product’s aesthetic appeal or lack thereof determines the ultimate outcome of our relationship with it. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about hangers (plastic = yuck) or hamburgers (cheese, please); this merciless Caesarian-like thumbs up/thumbs down is an immutable law that drives the marketplace. So what is a marketer to do? Pay attention. That attention is best focused on 1) designing and manufacturing a product that is beautiful, functional and easy to use, and 2) spending the time, money and care to portray that product in its most aspirational light. There is a reason that the average 30-second branded television commercial costs $323,000 according to the 4A’s Television Production Cost Survey: Tender loving care requires legal tender. Yet even when certain products are gussied up in primetime on, say, the likes of American Idol, they still fail the personal branding litmus test. Hence, no amount of light-hearted frolicking by ham-fisted finalists around a Ford Focus can save it from the chop shop known as the brand patina guillotine. That may sound elitist, but the same principle applies to the size of the curd in your cottage cheese – we know what we like and we like what we know. Everything else is a no. Hence a recent trip to the annual automobile show to find a replacement for my wife’s Honda Odyssey Minivan felt like a game of Mortal Combat where vehicle after vehicle was reduced to smoking metaphorical For a MINI isn’t just a car – it’s a culture, and the company does a phenomenal job of cultivating its buyers. electronicRETAILER | February 2012 http://www.twitter.com/thepetrydish http://www.electronicretailermag.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronic Retailer - February 2012

Calendar of Events - Upcoming Industry Events February through May
Your Association, Your Bottom Line
Industry Reports - Connect, Collaborate and Discover with MyERA
FTC Forum - Where the FTC Says Facebook Went Wrong
eMarketer Research - Who is the U.S. Hispanic Market?
IMS Retail Rankings - The Top 25 Shows and Spots
Jordan Whitney’s Top Categories - The Top 5 Shows and Spots and the Top 3 Categories
Lockard & Wechsler’s Clearance & Price Index - Index for 30, 60 and 120 Seconds
Ask the Expert - Who Says Kids’ Products Don’t Sell on DRTV?
From the Executive’s Desk - Create the Complete Package
DR Disruption
Bienvenido a Miami!
Interactive TV: Just a Click Away
What Your Consumer Says About You Matters
Guest Viewpoint - For Hispanic Vote, the Campaign is On
Guest Viewpoint - Own Your Own Online Media
DRTV - Supporting Retail: Is This the Answer?
Fulfillment - Are You Delivering a Great Customer Experience?
Teleservices - Stop Losing Thousands of Leads
Member Spotlight
Advertiser Spotlight - Highlighting This Month’s Advertisers
Bulletin Board - DG and Discovery Launch Digital Distribution System
Advertiser Index
Rick Petry - MINI Me

Electronic Retailer - February 2012