Me-too brands refer to follower brands that primarily copy a market leader or a dominant brand in its category. Inherently, the me-too brands do not command the same level of acceptance and respect as a brand like the industry leader does. Yet, in many instances, me-too brands not only survive, but also thrive in the battlefield of marketing. What is the secret of this survival and growth? A closer look at successful me-too brands reveals two secrets (in my humble opinion). We will talk about the first one today.
A strong brand necessarily refers to the one that has the best mind-share among its customers. This is achieved through years of articulated product characteristics that yield value to consumers. It also includes years of consistent emotional attachment commanded by the brand, years of compatible pricing strategies accepted by consumers, efficient distribution, and well-crafted promotion. In contrast, a me-too brand just attempts to copy what category leader is trying to do, without excelling in core branding proposition though. Yet, most of them will be able to scoop out a share of industry sales-pie by identifying and exploiting the execution loopholes of the category leader at the field level, resulting in their survival through “selling”, but not necessarily through branding. For example, me-too brands following KFC would either “place” themselves pretty close to KFC, alluring price-sensitive buyers of similar food items; or place themselves in such an area where no KFC exists nearby. In the first case, they are exploiting the price dimension, in the second case, they are exploiting the distribution dimension. In other instances, they would go for guerrilla marketing by harassing the industry leader through occasional sweepstakes and promotion, thereby alluring switchers and bonus seekers. One of the prominent strategies of me-too brands lie in here: they would hardly compete/excel on Product dimension with the leader, rather they would compete for increasing sales through other 3Ps of marketing mix. It is not because they cannot get closer to the physical nature of the product of the leader, but because of their almost unrecoverable inability to match the emotional attachment of consumers to the leader brand.