Friday, December 4, 2009

At a loss when brand doesn't ring a bell

Another terrible confession to make. I was in Bunnings last night (dominant big box hardware retailer for those overseas). I was buying a handyman bag of cement for a small repair job but, inevitably, walked out with several items - one of which was a door bell thanks to drawing my mother-in-law's name out of the kris kringle box last week. I am reviewing my diary to see what I did this year to deserve that!

I did not choose a door bell as the least interesting present I could think of. My wife suggested that an audiosensory decline in my octogenarian in-law meant she could no longer hear the one she had. So the Bunnings display of door bells attracted my attention last night. More correctly, I sought out the display, because even the retail cognizenti at Bunnings have failed to recognise that door bells deserve elevation to a higher calling. Note to Bunnings: Place door bells on check out ends - they're a fantastic impulse buy...Not!

Anyway, I was faced with an array of door bells, which could loosely be divided into two segments - silver and white. Big decision. I phoned my domestic adviser about which was preferable. This narrowed the search. The second criterion was it had to be loud. And this is where I started coming what you'd call 'a gutser'. I couldn't play them. Some had high and low volume settings, but didn't indicate what the threshhold for 'low' or 'high' might be. Silent dog whistles for some reason slipped through my mind as I considered this. I also noted the other audio data relating to these products was the choice of sounds, ranging from two to about eight. As the target audience was nearly stone deaf, I didn't think it would matter.

Basically, they all looked about the same and, roughly speaking, were similarly specified. This was heading towards a brand decision. Shortlist - Arlec, HPM, Kambrook. These were all well known to me. The metal spikes of my HPM garden lights had rusted and fallen off, I knew Arlec made power boards, but the circumstance for testing their overload cutouts had never occurred, and we had a Kambrook kettle once that was so loud we turfed it (I wondered whether the same technology had been applied to making the door bells).  No definitive brand positioning here.

There's only one conclusion I could draw. Door bells are a commoditised product. Brand does not play a big role in door bell marketing strategy, unless of course marketing effort is directed at tradesmen, who have 'the knowledge'. So which one did I buy and on what grounds? Can't remember. Brand recall zero. Feature recall zero. Price recall $29.90. I got out of Christmas cheap. Good purchase decision!

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