Market share is a critical metric because it indicates both competitive strength and expertise in a product category. In general, as market share grows, so does the firm's visibility and reputation. An image of exclusivity can significantly boost share by persuading consumers that the brand offers unique benefits in its physical features, distribution or image. Additionally, it can help to justify a higher price than competition.
Many product and service brands are functionally alike. For example, all watches tell time and any hairdresser can perform a haircut. But one way for a particular brand to increase its market share is to convey exclusivity through its physical features. For example, watch buyers can be attracted by state-of-the-art technology that is not yet widely available or by a limited-edition design. Many hair salon customers will choose a site that is professionally decorated and offers high-end grooming products.
Distribution involves making a product available when, where and how target consumers wish to shop. By utilizing retail outlets that carry exclusive merchandise, the firm can build market share among a discriminating clientele. Another approach, called a push strategy, is to focus on wholesalers who stock exclusive retail stores. Marketers can incentivize these intermediaries to stock their brand in larger volume than the competition, giving it a formidable shelf presence and reinforcing its premium image and distinctiveness.
An exclusive brand image is an intangible but critical tool for building market share in categories where most products provide the same basic benefits, such as swimwear or sports cars. Many women choose a bathing suit with a designer label not because it looks better or lasts longer, but because it suggests they have discerning taste. Similarly, firms such as Porsche and Jaguar use advertising to constantly reinforce the idea that the owners of these brands are a privileged few.
Exclusivity can help to justify a higher price than competition, because some consumers are willing to pay extra for what they perceive as a purchase not everyone can make. Even when alternatives are significantly cheaper, this perception can support a strong market share among consumers who equate it with status and prestige. When introducing a new product with an image of exclusivity, firms often charge a high price, known as skimming, to quickly establish a premium position in the marketplace.
- "Marketing: The Core"; Roger Kerin, et al.; 2011
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