Some products, from consumer electronics to printing services, sell at such low margins that there isn’t much financial scope for marketing. I believe PR could genuinely help these industries. PR agencies can work to tight budgets and still achieve something worthwhile. And on top of that, PR agencies are at their most effective when taking a long-term approach. A regular, low monthly cost can achieve a great deal in the long run.
Allow me to illustrate with one of my particular favourites as an example. Contact lenses are a product category that would benefit if fewer people used glasses and switched to contact lenses. The problem is, no-one is leading the way in terms of marketing in this category, which is because contact lenses are a low margin product. The various suppliers mainly compete on price. Of course there are also other ways of gaining a competitive edge, such as getting opticians to recommend their particular product to customers. However, consumers tend to choose lenses using comparison sites such as Pricerunner and Prisjakt.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of marketing around glasses frames, and there’s clearly money to earn here, because it’s hard to find a single city centre district that isn’t home to at least one optician. The industry’s marketing is costly, and glasses frames are a high margin product. Purchase decisions are largely based on design, brand and recommendations from opticians. And then there’s support in the form of employer subsidies, subscriptions and discounts, which further encourage the purchase of not just one, but perhaps two or three different frames.
Those of us who use contact lenses every day can’t help wondering whether everyone who wears glasses has missed something by choosing them over lenses. Many contact lens wearers feel that there are just too many irritating aspects to wearing glasses, such as having to constantly push frames up as they slide down, the pinch marks on your nose and having to clean them and wipe away steam and rain. And how about the ultimate argument in favour of contact lenses: you can chop onions without crying!
Perhaps it’s because lenses just aren’t marketed? You could even call it a marketing fail. Despite the advantages of contact lenses, relatively few people use them. So how can we right this wrong? I’ve got three tips for the contact lens industry, and there are also some niche areas within consumer electronics that would do well to listen in:
• Suppliers should take a long-term approach to promoting the use of lenses, to achieve impact in the most cost-effective way. To achieve long-term impact, all we need to do is ensure the right arguments for wearing contact lenses are highlighted in the media from time to time to encourage interest in considering lenses as an alternative.
• Several contact lens producers or retailers can work together to spread the cost evenly, for example via a lobbying organisation/trade association, particularly since the PR generated would support the entire industry as the whole product category would benefit.
• Suppliers should of course use PR as their main method. PR can have an impact despite low cost, and is particularly effective when you’re looking to put your case and boost confidence.
So that’s my free strategy for the whole industry. We look forward to hearing from you at the PR agency!