According to Keller, a brand is “a set of mental associations held by the consumer, which add to the perceived value of a product or service.” These associations should be unique, positive, and strong. What emphasized in the definition is the perceived value brought by the brand.
That is to say, what makes a name become a brand is saliency, differentiation, intensity, and trust attached to these associations. And the factors that make a name acquiring the power of a brand are including, products, services, and people at points of contact with the market, the price, the places, and the communication. All the sources of cumulative brand experience to customers.
Let’s see how The Body Shop manages the various associations and emotions to build customer brand knowledge in order to differentiate its brand and brand equity to customers？
First of all, let’s deal with Brand awareness – According to Keller, brand awareness is related to the strength of the brand node or trace in memory, which we can measure as the consumer‘s ability to identify the brand under different conditions. The Body Shop builds its brand awareness from the very beginning through campaign for nature ingredients and anti- animal test of products.
During the last decades, the body shop made a lot of efforts on environment protection, including engagement in many charity supports. For instance, in 2001, The Body Shop UK region and service-centre head offices switched to Ecotricity from Watersmead, providing them with energy from renewable sources. In addition, a number of The Body Shop® stores have now converted to green electricity. In 1995 and 1997 The Body Shop Values Reports are recognized as trailblazing by United Nations Environmental Program and Sustainability, and ranked highest in their review of International Corporate Environmental Reports. It is well recognized as green and ethic business by customers.
Secondly, Brand image – According to Keller, Brand image is the perception of the brand by consumers, as reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory. Brand associations are the other informational nodes linked to the brand node in memory and contain the meaning of the brand for consumers. The Body Shop establishes brand image through three main parts, namely symbolic, attributes, and benefits by understanding its initial brand positioning as a company that is dedicated to producing natural bath and body products that support fair trade, animal rights, human rights, and eco-friendly processes for people who care about these issues.
- Attributes – Attributes are those descriptive features that characterize a product, namely what a consumer thinks the product is or has and what is involved with its purchase or consumption.
- Products related attributes
- Nature Ingredients meeting the strict biodegradability standards – The Body Shop chooses its raw materials carefully and only use ingredients known to be non-toxic to organisms that live in water. Raw materials which are classified as persistent and bio-accumulative and toxic according to EC Regulation 1272/2008 will not be used. The product formulation has been measured for eco-toxicity according to methodology 201 as defined by The Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development.
- Limited Package waste – The Body Shop aims to use the minimum amount of packaging materials for products. It measures the weight and volume of packaging relative to its contents, and its pack-to-content ratio will never exceed 0.2 grams of packaging per gram of product. It also uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) in packaging wherever possible, and if the primary pack uses paper and/or card, it is from an FSC-certified source.
- Pricing and Promotion – Medium/High priced, targeting towards professional men and women. Also, The Body Shop pricing is in line with what you’ll find from the competition. It is reasonable in terms of quality from customer perception. To attract customers and be competitive in the market, The Body Shop has sales change on a regular basis. Discounted items can be found by clicking the Specials tab in the top navigation menu on the homepage. One of the best ways to save money at The Body Shop is by joining our Love Your Body Club. This is a membership program that costs $10 per year and comes with the following benefits:
- 10% off all purchases.
- $10 discount off one order during your birthday month, or a free birthday gift at one of The Body Shop’s physical stores.
- Special email discounts.
- A $15 discount off of your 4th purchase after becoming a member.
- A $25 discount off of your 8th purchase, along with free membership renewal.
- User and usage imagery – User imagery describes the user of the brand with personality traits while usage imagery describes the context in which to use the brand.
After rebranding in year 2012, The Body Shop enlarges its focus from original women or men over 30 years old to young people, who is their potential future customers.
The Body Shop segmentation is masstige, higher income, urban man and women
- Well educated women’s aged 18-55
- Well educated men 30-55 with high income
- Interested in ethical and environmental friendly products
All these factors can be judged from appearance, like dressing, bags they are carrying reflecting if they are high income group and environmental concerns or not)
Usage imagery: private, home based.
- Brand Personality – Eco-Friendly, ethical, generous, environmentally-responsible, organic, feel welcome, clean and well organized
- Feelings and Experience – The Body Shop expects its customer to view its products as innovative, sensorial ones when using them, and with pleasure to see the improvement and care the products bring to their skin.
- Communication – Multi-Channel marketing Communication
- Communication about ecological and ethical arguments
- Love your body – unique member club
- Active Self esteem workshop
- Lily Cole as brand ambassador
- Twitter : 20982 followers
- Face book: 455000 followers
- Dozens of forums
- Hundreds of videos on Youtube
- Articles on Wikipedia
- Commercial mails
- Distribution – Global roll-out of new concept stores to be more attractive- « Beauty with Heart »
- Symbolic benefits – The Body Shop regular care for its brand value in terms of human rights, community fair trade, anti-animal test, and active self esteem. According to customer research, 83% of The Body Shop regular customers are more likely to choose retailers that take social and environmental issues seriously.
- Functional benefits- Professional skin care provided with nature ingredients, especially for sensitive skin.
- Experiential benefits – Feelings of using the product is always positive from regular shoppers, especially those with sensitive skin, like “I can say that I have started to use The Body Shop products since 8 years back. Thanks to my very dry and sensitive skin, which I was required to go for natural products. My friend recommended me to try The Body Shop. Started with just a body shower gel, now I am big fan of The Body Shop who is always on lookout to try more products by The Body Shop. ”
- Attitudes – However, the customer experience with The Body Shopwas ranked only in 41st place in the UK Customer Experience Excellence results in 2013. It is due to customer perception before rebranding in year 2012. With customer re-engagement driving The Body Shop strategy in 2013, it will be interesting to see if it can progress further up the customer experience management leader board in 2014.
The Body Shop created a global brand image without using traditional advertising. Its strong
associations to personal care and environmental concern occurred through its packaging (simple, recyclable), products (never tested on animals, only natural ingredients), staff (encouraged to be informative concerning environmental issues), sourcing policies (using small local producers from around the world), merchandising (detailed point of sales posters, displays, brochures), social action program (requiring each franchisee to run a local community program), and public relations programs (taking visible and outspoken stands on various issues).
By engaging customers in its green and ethic products and brand values, The Body Shop buildt itself as a love mark to customers. The Body Shop successfully changed customer’s perceptions about what to look for in cosmetics from scientific breakthrough and a glamorous image conveyed through expensive advertising with top models and celebrities to natural ingredients and a healthy image for the average person.
However, as more and more competitors are getting into the market, The Body Shop faced the problem of engaging customer in its traditional way, which is anti advertising. In recent years it has struggled with that message as competition intensified and rivals introduced more ethically sourced beauty products and retailers, such as Lush, l’Occitane launching with a similar, fresher offer. The Body Shop is no longer a love mark anymore. It can be witnessed by the UK Customer Experience Excellence results in 2013. The Body Shop was only ranked in 41st place while Lush is ranked in 7th.
Therefore, The Body Shop decided to start customer re-engagement strategy in year 2013. It launched a lot of projects to re-engage, re-design stores to make more of the retailer’s ethical stance, new innovative products, refreshed customer shopping experience in stores to help customer getting deep understanding about its natural and ethical products, social network campaign to potential young customers, and also to help better communicate its ethical credentials. The Body Shop hired its first brand advocate, supermodel Lily Cole. She leads a new marketing campaign according to the retailer. Now, The Body Shop is looking forward to re-build itself as love mark again by successful re-branding and re-engagement with customers.
Let’s now have a look at the brand reasonance pyramid for The Body Shop:
Brand Resonance Pyramid of The Body Shop:
According to a survey published online, the company The Body Shop has a clear advance by having been named 20 times among 30 participants, followed by MAC with 8 nominations and Clinique which was named 5 times.
And all of the customers interviewed declare to be very familiar with The Body Shop logo and able to spot it at the purchase point.
- Differentiated with truthful and ethical business, especially on environment concern, against animal testing, and active self-esteem.
- Innovative, sensorial products
- Natural ingredients of products
- It can be observed from the graph below that out of the 6 people who bought a present in The Body Shop, 93% will offer it to someone between 15 and 25 years old.
- Environment Concern, Health Care and Components – According to the survey, most people interviewed (70%) in front of The Body Shop have a quite or very strong sensitivity to the respect of the environment in general, and 77% are considering that the health benefits of those products is at least quite important, while 90% of The Body Shop customers are considering components used in the fabrication of cosmetic products are important to them.
- According to the diagram below from the survey result, participants are asked to name the cosmetic brands that they consider as being competitors in the high performance cosmetic market and it can be observed that the result is quite different from the brand awareness, The Body Shop only represents 15%. This result indicates the mitigated perception of The Body Shop’s differentiating advantages in such high competitive cosmetic market.
- Also, according to the survey, customers are asked to give their reasons of buying The Body Shop products, showing us the strengths and weaknesses of The Body Shop products. And from the result, it can be observed that 31% of the customers interviewed estimate that those products are a sign of quality and 29% purchase them for the interesting price of The Body Shop. However, only 6% consider the Image of the brand The Body Shop as a factor of purchase.
- Keywords associated with The Body Shop for customers are natural, organic, smell, ethical trade, and environment concern.
- Relatively strong base of loyal customers, who are demanding, both in terms of the values they expect The Body Shop to live by, and the quality of what The Body Shop sells. This is because of its initial good performance in organic cosmetic market in the past.
- However, due to the highly competitive cosmetic market with new competitor entering every day, it is difficult for The Body Shop to engage customers in its traditional no-advertising way. It is no longer a “Love mark” anymore. According to the UK Customer Experience Excellence results in 2013, The Body Shop was only ranked in 41st with relatively poor performance on “personalization” and “integrity” in the customers’ eyes.