Thursday, 12 March 2015

Strongbow is Selling Itself on the Basis of Quality and I am Confused

You may well have seen the spot by now. It’s no longer particularly new. A TV ad highlighting the seasonal nature of cider apple growing, and the care and attention that goes into making Strongbow cider.

And I’m confused. Because Strongbow isn’t known for quality. It’s known for being cheap, plentiful, and not particularly nice. There’s a reason people mix it with squash. And that it’s one of the main ingredients of snakebite. I have no beef with Strongbow. But it isn’t known for quality.

(Although interestingly in Australia Strongbow is branded as an English heritage product. Cutesy images of trees and apples and everything.)

The point is, there are other ciders, even mass market ones like Magners, which place their quality and care as a key selling point – and it’s believable because they are actually quite nice.

So why is Strongbow going down this route for its advertising? We can only assume that they feel a need to aim for a more mature audience.

After all, Strongbow ads have traditionally been very strong, playing on humour and funny scenarios – exactly the kind of thing to appeal to a younger class of drinker, who wants something cheap but also wants a brand that seems to understand and care about their sense of humour. But perhaps that market is under threat by own brand supermarket offerings, which are much cheaper and taste about the same. Advertising can only trump cost to a point.

That there is one of the most interesting market developments of the last few years. Many value range branded goods are suffering from the competition of cheaper supermarket-made alternatives.
(It’s probably worth an article of its own. I’ll have a think.)

But here’s the main point: if you see an advert that looks odd, seems unusual or out of tone for a brand, start thinking. Why is it there?

Quite often, the answers are more easy to reason out than you think.

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