October 2, 2021 09:01 AM
One of the interesting pointers to effective marketing is product category name. It is important to figure out a cohesive product category name and plan your activities around that. And if you are in multiple product categories things get complex further. The big question is how as a Effective marketing you can create and strengthen the categories you are present for driving your brand. The selection of categories, strategy and execution are critical in the marketing planner’s agenda.
So, what is a product category? A product category is all the products offering the same or similar general functionality. This is where creative marketers play a major role and tomes have been written about defining your product category. Remember the “un cola” category created by 7-Up? The category names whether it is coffee, mobile phone or bikes, are all vital to the right Effective marketing campaigns. Without a general awareness of what a product is and why it is important to a customer how can you derive and offer a value proposition? Therefore, even competing companies will have to rally around a cohesive product category name. Cola and un-cola is a great creative example of twisting the category which one may not be able to do all the time. Uber created a new category for taxis but it is still something consumers can identify with. Can Starbucks take on Café Coffee Day by saying something other than coffee? A better consumer experience could be the differentiator but they are both in coffee business, and pretty average coffee at that!
Let us assume your company is toying with a new product idea. The development team will typically come up with a couple of initial concepts and the marketing will plan typically the brand names that can be researched, the product category is something the marketing folks have no control on. There is an added reason: you cannot patent or trademark a category name so what is marketing going to do with it? Right? Absolutely wrong. If 7-Up had left that job to the product developers they would have fizzled out in no time! Through careful planning and collective thinking between marketing and product development teams, marketers can make sure that they not only help strengthen a product category but also use that category to boost brand image.
There is also the danger of brand names becoming category names. Xerox is a classic example where photocopying as a category is all forgotten. The same is true for shredded wheat and corn flakes, both of which started off as brand names. Their trademarks lapsed for too long and because of the general nature of their names, they were not allowed to be trademarked again as by then they had become product category names. In the case of Xerox, it was different. And, for brands like Kleenex, Chap Stick and Highlighter, all of them managed to hold on to their brand and category names for now.
So which category are you competing in? Here are a few pointers to make sure the category names are not usurped or denigrated by your products.
When launching a new product, you should identify a category name and differentiate it from your product brand name.
Use a generally accepted category name to start with for consumer acceptance especially if you have low marketing budgets to market a new product. Creating something like Dove and its cream and not soap category takes far too long a time.
If you are not sure which category your new product belongs to, you can either use multiple category names in your advertising or gamble on committing to one category.
If you believe that using the correct category name will help improve your marketing success, how do you play around with rival use of category names? Going by the practices of Unilever in India, there are a few things you can do. Become the registrar for “.category name” domain names via a generic top-level domain. You could also register a collective or certification trademark. Some companies lobby the authorities for an identity standard or may go for filing a case against misleading ads.
Lastly, there are issues related to public policy one must consider while playing around with product category names. If you are a challenger or upstart against the established big player brands, you sure will be fought in the policy and lobbying areas if you were to create a new category name that attracts a large number of customers. The primary justification for restricting category name use is the prevention of consumer deception as to product characteristics rather than brand name. However, freer use of category names can enhance competition and consumer choice.