The conventional wisdom of branding says that you never mention your competitors in your marketing – it only serves to promote them. Less professional companies have sales and marketing teams that go one step further by publicly or privately criticizing their competitors!
Which is better? Complement or criticize your competitors? New research holds what might be a surprising answer!
Should you be naughty or nice to competitors? Read on…
New research out of Duke University quite literally quantifies whether it pays off to be nice to your competitors…or to be nasty. Somehow, this story seems well-timed for this holiday season! A detailed market research project encompassing nearly a dozen experiments and data from almost 4,000 consumers, seems to offer a conclusive answer to that question.
The research is detailed in a report titled Brand-to-Brand Praise on Consumer Evaluations and Choices and it represents a controlled experiment that seeks to generate real data on the results of how consumers respond to how brands act towards each other. The report was authored by Keisha Cutright, a professor of marketing at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business…along with co-authors Lingrui Zhou, and Katerine Du.
The study consisted of having a group of consumers view a public tweet from Kit Kat praising Twix. That tweet was:
“Competitor or not, congrats on your 54 years in business! Even we can admit – Twix are delicious.”
This tweet, by the way, was not real, but a fictitious one created for the purpose of this research. But to those consumers participating in the study, it appeared to be a real tweet.
Eleven days after seeing this tweet, researchers went back to the consumers participating in the study and asked them to reveal any recent candy purchases. Perhaps you can guess the result! Those study participants who saw the tweet of Kit Kat praising Twix “…were 34% more likely to buy a Kit Kat” as compared to a control group who saw a different Kit Kat tweet with a more standard marketing message about its own products. That number was large enough to get the researchers’ attention.
Perhaps even more remarkably, the research showed that Twix sales did not increase, even after receiving praise from their competitor who called Twix “delicious.”
The report went on the note that the positive impact on a marketer’s reputation and sales tends to be more significant if they are a type of business not typically seen as “warm and fuzzy” – such as for-profit companies as opposed to non-profit organizations. Not only that, but those consumers who tend to be the most skeptical about marketing seemed to have the biggest response when a brand “tips their hat” to a competitor.
The research was reported by Quirks, a leading marketing research media company. You can see more on this and other research at: quirks.com.
So be nice to your competitors…it pays off! You will not only boost your own reputation…you’ll boost your sales as well.