Friday, September 07, 2012

Brand Equity - Is That Why I Bought This?


Why did I decide to buy this where I bought it?

The answer to the where is easy...it was convenient.  I could swing by at lunch from my office.  Would I have felt better if I had bought it at Cambridge Naturals?  Yes.  My friends at the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts should rightfully chastise me.

Among the brands displayed at the nationally recognized organic/natural/sustainable food store it did not have the best shelf placement, it was not at eye level (given that I am not within the height range of optimum shelf placement, that's probably not a factor for me in most cases). Within products of the same category, it was on the edge, teetering on the border of oblivion that is the next section.

Was it the Lorax?  Probably not, since I find that connection mildly annoying (though knower of the ins and outs I am not).

Was it the fact that Seventh Generation was one of the first few companies I learned about as I started to dive into the concept of "sustainability" over ten years ago?  Had their brand been infused in my head for that long?

How about the fact that I was fortunate to have seen (and briefly chatted with) their new CEO John Replogle at the Vermont Business for Social Responsibility Spring Conference in May of this year (seemed like a nice enough guy)?  Was some lingering piece of his keynote message ringing in my subconscious mind, adding to my brand awareness as I perused the detergents?  After all, I spent a few hours in the months following the event reading about what appeared to be a tumultuous transition from founder Jeffrey Hollender, through Chuck Maniscalco to Mr. Replogle.  Seems like they're on a good track now.

Did I remember reading about their compostable packaging, something the well-developed geek in me found so compelling?  Was the need to experience its coolness first-hand enough to influence my buying decision?  Clearly.

I could easily look past the quantity paradox - in our "bigger is better" economy, super-concentrated anything, with smaller package sizes appear to be of lesser value.  In this case, their two-piece package containing the 4X concentrated goodness with paperboard outer casing was larger than if they had used a recycled plastic bottle - making the overall size closer to the "regular" laundry detergents.  I wonder if that weighed in on their design decision?

Was I hoping that this purchase would bathe me in the "Halo of Goodness" and provide green bragging rights that (we think) come with buying something green?  (Note - I know that anything single-use is one of our biggest problems so at best this is "less bad" - but in a consumer economy - this still scores "green" points, right?)

I believe that the few extra dollars I pay for their detergent is an investment in an organization of individuals working to make the world a better place through their business activities.  Do they have a long way to go?  Sure, we all do...and...in this case...it's the least I could do.  (I'll not forget to mention that I am fortunate to be able to spend the few extra dollars here - one of the criticisms of "green/healthy" products, particularly food, is that some people cannot afford them. As another aside, I know of one cool company working on this issue, Stockbox Grocers.)

These are all pieces of the brand equity Seventh Generation has built with me, all factors in my buying decision.  How much was linked to their traditional marketing?  Doesn't seem like that much to me, though I'm gathering that not everyone thinks this much about this kind of stuff

Do you regularly think about the whys and wherefores of something you buy regularly?  What comes to mind?

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