What merchants can learn from iconic brands

Tarmac Cement’s Patrick Edwards looks at brand longevity and what merchants can learn from it.

As one of the building industry’s most iconic brands, Tarmac’s Blue Circle cement product brand has demonstrated lasting appeal over the last 100 years.

As the brand continues to evolve in a connected world where buyers are inundated with digital marketing messages, how has it remained as relevant as ever?

Trust and sales often go hand-in-hand, and those with a successful history will have stayed true to their core values that customers trust them for. Look at the technology company Apple, for example, who recently became the world’s first trillion dollar company.

As a company, Apple has many brands, such the IPod, IPad and Mac, and when each decides to compete in a market, it does so with a strong clarity of focus. Each brand manages to consistently lead a rapidly changing technology industry through its values of unique innovation and having a deep understanding of its customers.

Like these product brands, Blue Circle cement has sustained its positive connotations despite the changing structure of the industry. Blue Circle continues to represent three key attributes of quality, reliability and trust to ensure it continues to resonate amongst its loyal customers. We know that this is recognised by our customers as a recent survey revealed that tradespeople positively associate the Blue Circle brand with being market leading, innovating and offering real value for the premium paid.

In today’s fast-moving market, it’s important to think about your target audience and what drives them.

We are also driving innovation in our marketing programmes. A recent example is our groundbreaking Blue Circle on-pack promotion campaign offered our merchants customers the chance to bag Premier League football tickets. The competition was the first on-pack/in-pack promotion of its kind in the cement industry and provided builders’ merchants with a unique in-branch promotional opportunity. It’s part of a drive to look at new and different promotional areas and to offer specifically tailored offers to help our brand to drive merchant sales

As well as targeted promotions, something as simple as a new package design can also re-energise a brand. For example, for Coca Cola, its new packaging helped fuse its brands by placing the bold and iconic Coca Cola red disk on each flavour. Similarly, across the Blue Circle product range, bold colours and striking graphics, alongside the iconic Blue Circle cement badge, make the brand instantly recognisable.

To stay current, a brand will also need to make physical changes to the product in line with shifting customer requirements. For example, we recently introduced a number of smaller 12.5kg bag sizes across our product range for  Blue Circle Mastercrete and Blue Circle Extra Rapid Cement. The decreased bag sizes help customers reduce wastage and save costs on smaller jobs.

To remain focused and stay current an established brand must show genuine interest in its customers. Innovation comes from knowledge, which is why as a brand, we always look to gain market insights from customers.

We conducted a survey of more than 1,000 builders who regularly buy cement products to gauge their awareness and perception of the brand and its range against market competitors. The positive results proved invaluable in recognising where the brand currently stands amongst competitors, and what we can be done in future to gain even more success.

We also continuously work with our merchant network to offer product knowledge and training. The ‘hands-on’ sessions that we call ‘Building Excellence’ give merchants staff the chance to test products for themselves through practical activities such as fencing, rendering, paving and brick laying. The activity also helps merchants achieve commercial excellence in-store, from influencing sales through presentation and positioning to cross selling and increasing overall basket sale. This initiative allows us to speak to merchants and understand which products they need advice and technical support on.

Finally, merchants who stock brands that customers instantly recognise to stand for quality, value or superior performance can achieve numerous business benefits. Not only can the merchant sell at increased premium, but they will also increase customer loyalty and footfall, earning further sales across other products. And as we know, loyal customers are the backbone to any business.

Patrick Edwards, is Commercial Director for Tarmac’s Cement business




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