A great case study in product positioning and branding (reproduced from Ben M Bartlett’s blog)


Reproducing a very engaging post here. Ben M. Bartlett is an analyst, strategic planner and coach who specializes in business, marketing and high performance strategy

For the original post, please visit http://benmbartlett.com/a-great-case-study-in-product-positioning-and-branding/

I want to share with you a case study concerning one of the best product positioning and branding strategies you’ll ever come across.

It helped a Canadian company enjoy rapid growth, made its President a famous celebrity, and turned a serious product “flaw” into a huge selling point.

I’m a passionate user of the “flawed” product, even though I have an annoying love/hate relationship with it.  Why?  Let me explain.

Down here in New Zealand we’re just getting into winter and as is customary at this time of the year, we’ve armed ourselves to fight off the nasty coughs and colds.

When it comes to the sale of cough and cold remedies, supermarkets and pharmacies do a roaring trade during winter. And we’re spoilt for choice too.

You got night-time remedies, day-time remedies, cough mixtures for kids, cough mixtures for adults…you got pills, lotions, rubs…with pretty much all these products backed by the latest and greatest in medical science and supplied to us by multi-national pharmaceutical companies.

As for me, I prefer to use a 90 year old natural cough remedy made by Buckley’s.

Buckley’s? In case you’ve never heard of it, Buckley’s is a Canadian company that manufactures cough and cold remedies. Its flagship product is its natural cough remedy, which was developed by the company’s founder, W.K Buckley, way back in 1919.

Let me tell you.  This product works wonders and I have been faithfully using it for over six years.

Now even though the product is fantastic, you actually have to summon some serious courage just to shove it down your throat. The reason?  To put it bluntly, Buckley’s looks like semen, smells like gasoline and tastes like burnt oil.

Yes, the Buckley’s taste is horrendously bad.  But it works. And it’s this combination of bad taste with powerful product efficacy that led to the development of one of the best product positioning strategies you’ll ever come across.

In the mid 80s the people at Buckley’s took what is considered one of the products worst attributes – its taste – and combined it with the fact that the product does a great job.

That lead to the creation of the now famous Buckley’s tagline which is, “Buckley’s. It tastes awful.  And it works.”

Buckley’s then took this tagline and combined with a series of marketing campaigns built around its product’s best and worst attributes.

Here are some examples of ad headlines built around the “tastes bad” theme.

People swear by it.  And at it.

Our largest bottle is 200 ml.  Anything more would be cruel.

Feared by more people than ever before.

I’m dedicated to ensuring every new batch of Buckley’s tastes as bad as the last.

How bad does it taste?  That depends.  How bad is your cough?

Your cough won’t know what hit it.  Neither will you.

Four of the most dreaded words in the English language: “Get out the Buckley’s!”

I still remember the day when I first heard, “Buckleys. It tastes awful.  And it works” on the radio. Actually, it was this tagline that made me drive down to the supermarket to try the product out.

And after trying the product for the first time, I knew the marketing wasn’t a lie.  The product tasted awful…and it worked.

Some key points.

1.  Your business and brand strategy must be based around a strong competitive position.  In the case of Buckley’s, their position is that the products work, but they do taste awful.  What Buckley’s owners did was take a perceived negative and turn it into a positive.

2. A great tagline can do wonders for a business.  You can even build, like Buckley’s have done, an entire branding theme around a great tagline.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s