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July 20, 2023

How to Perform a Cult Brand Tune-Up

Tony Treadway

How to perform a cult brand tune-up article.

We’ve been building cult brands for decades. It’s what sets us apart from most in the marketing business. Attaining the status of a cult brand takes decades to nurture brand loyalists who steadfastly stick with a brand no matter what.

Why You Might Need a Cult Brand Tune-Up

The aftermath of the pandemic is still being felt and the number one reason for reassessing your brand strength is price. Across the board, inflation has made consumers hyper-sensitive to pricing changes that you are passing along. It’s been 15 years since the 2007–2009 recession when the ugly threat of ‘private label’ products legitimately challenged a great cult brand. Today, even brand loyalists are checking the price tags of their favorites. Also, give it to retailers and wholesalers alike. They’ve upped their game and their ‘store brands’ have improved quality and more elegant branding. The sleight of hand has transferred millions of dollars in profit from the branded manufacturer’s products to the retailer and their ‘knock-off’ brand co-packers.

Inflation graph
According to IRI, supermarkets prices rose an average of 13.2% between Q4 2022 and the same period the previous year. Price is the key factor in cult brands losing unit sales.

Supply chain issues that left empty shelves by cult brands is another factor. Empty shelves drove trials of other brands giving time for competitors to build affinities to the converts. Some former brand loyalists have even traded down to ‘store brands’ and they are content.

These issues have contributed to a significant uptick in reassessments by our firm for cult brands who seek a strategic response in a loss in unit sales. While dollars are up across the board for most of these brands, they know that a continued loss in unit sales will soon affect their bottom line.

How do you tune up your cult brand? Here are five strategies that can get unit sales growth back on track.

Turn Up the Volume on Your Core Brand Message

Your core brand strengths are what made yours a cult brand. Look at your unique position against your competitors and determine if your messaging should be tweaked to address today’s shopper behaviors and how it resonates. If your prices have increased significantly, you need to be clearer in your point of difference through messaging strategies.

Do Your Best at Assuring Your Supply Chain Is Reliable

Do your best at assuring retailers that your products will be delivered on time without interruption. We’re seeing clients building stockpiles of raw products and open new production lines as their hedge against interruptions that can affect deliveries and resulting empty shelves.

Become A Brand Evangelist

Build a stronger bond with your remaining loyalists and evangelize your brand to converts. Invest more in first-party data to identify your loyalists and leverage tactics to encourage opt-ins so that you continue to build a relationship based as a trusted friend and advisor. Measure success based on engagements and shares by loyalists with friends. 

Be Front and Center

Use strategies to make your cult brand products more visible inside retailers or online. Cross merchandise with other cult brands that build your status and are part of an easy solution for the shopper. Or partner with a retailer’s ‘store brand’ to negotiate store space elsewhere inside the store to be front and center with shoppers.

Be Confident and Bold

Now is a time to blaze a trail into new strategies and tactics that will be appreciated and recognized by your loyalist and potential converts. Whether a social cause, new products, or influencers endorse your strengths, you need to be on a shopper’s radar in a positive and recognizable way. Get back into the business of adding value to your relationships with shoppers.

Now is the time to assess your brand’s position. Dust is settling from the pandemic and consumers are in search of brand relationships that are worth the price and that align with their needs. If you are in search of a firm that can do a tune-up, we’re happy to discuss your brand health.