Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Dražen Novak
Valicon is one of the leading agencies for marketing consulting and research in the area of South Eastern Europe, with a special focus on the countries of the former Yugoslavia. It specializes in small markets, customized solutions, modern methodology and working closely with the client. Valicon follows the biggest regional players from various industries, gathering extensive insights into the region. Two days ago we announced Valicon’s list of top ten brands in each country of the region and the top 25 brands in the region, and readers took great interest in the article. Today we expand on this story a bit through a conversation with Ismir Omeragić, director of Valicon for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Media Marketing: What is it exactly that brands can read from your charts? Is there other information that is not visible in them?
Ismir Omeragić: A friend of mine often says that numbers are not like colors, which immediately tell you something as soon as you see them. You have to think about numbers. You have to read them and find additional meanings.
Everyone can look at the tables and draw conclusions from their own perspective. However, in order to strategically manage brands, companies need detailed analyses of all aspects of their brand.
This research of Valicon starts from data on the power levels of a brand, and goes on to the measuring of a brand’s image (in all its dimensions).
If we ‘mull’ over these results, we, as brand managers, can reach a clearer picture of the state of a certain brand.
Media Marketing: If we were to take the ranking per country and in the region, Milka would be the absolute leader in recent years. What is it that makes this brand so successful?
Ismir Omeragić: The category of chocolate is one of the categories with the highest penetration in the population. But on the other hand, this is a category that is fiercely challenged by discount brands and the local competition (Dorina, Zvečevo, Kandit, Najlepše Želje, Gorenjka etc). The only factor in Milka’s favor is that it doesn’t have a strong regional competitor.
Milka is a good example of how a strong brand can maintain its strength even under such circumstances, and the secret is in a strong brand identity based on emotion – specifically, tenderness – and not so much on the product. Milka has a clear visual identity, its expansion into other categories contributes to its ubiquity and, of course, it has strong distribution and marketing. We can conclude that this is a good recipe for all FMCG brands.
Media Marketing: Croatia and Serbia: conscientious nations or the fact that Croatia has Konzum, and Serbia has Idea?
Ismir Omeragić: Retail has a marginal influence on this. More important is that the strong brands from Croatia and Serbia – and we are talking about true brand-icons – really invest a lot in the market. On the other hand, in these two countries the consumer ethnocentrism is the strongest – consumers really give priority to good brands. In Slovenia there is much lower consumer ethnocentrism, although it’s a homogenous market.
The market of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other hand, is the most fragmented – there are the two entities and at least five small local markets. The situation is similar in Macedonia.
Always an interesting topic in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the use of imported versus domestic products. We are exploring brands here, not products. From this perspective, we can see that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the largest, so to speak, ‘importer’ of regional brands. On the list of the top 10 brands in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Argeta, Cedevita, Smoki, Jaffa and Vegeta. And of the top ten brands in the country five positions are held by brands from the region, and only one is local – Violeta.
Media Marketing: I don’t know whether Valicon is still doing research on brands regarding the structure of each individual brand, but if you do, could you give some advice to the brands from the list on how to improve their position, how to fix their weak spots and reinforce the areas that give them strength?
Ismir Omeragić: Brand research is interesting precisely because it provides a multi-layered demonstration of the structure of the power of each brand. These studies are a kind of general practitioner for brands. Of course, the most important is the use of the brand, but without a consumer base who know it and have experience with the brand, there can be no use. An overview of the situation at every level and knowledge of the development phase of a brand is crucial for brand management.
Of course this is a simplified model of testing the areas of its strength. For a comprehensive understanding of a brand, a detailed study must be made, where the levels of brand strength are category adjusted, and an important part, of course, is measuring its image. There is no universal tip that will help everyone, because the ‘health card’ of each brand is different.
This and the previous question would be interesting to answer together, in the context of brands from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yesterday in Media Marketing we saw that it could be concluded that Bosnia and Herzegovina is actually still Yugoslavia in miniature (due to the presence of brands from almost the entire region). However, brand rules from the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian market do not apply in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A tip for Bosnian brands could be in the direction that they should observe the region as a whole and make their own rules – play a different game than the one played by brands from Serbia or Croatia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we don’t have a background or context that is similar to other markets, and we need to think differently and be creative and courageous. It may eventually be a significant advantage in competition with other brands.
Media Marketing: As far as Bosnia and Herzegovina is concerned, it seems to me that this list could become an item on the agenda of the country’s Council of Ministers or entity governments.
Ismir Omeragić: Sure. And I would say that this list, but also marketing as an industry, should not be just one agenda item for just one session of the Council of Ministers and other government structures of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
An increasing number of countries are putting marketing at the strategic level and dealing with brands (both the brand of the country itself, and brands that originate in that country) at the highest level. The local market, and also access to other markets, are very important issues for all stakeholders on the marketing scene, as well as for the governance structure. In addition to the market, the state should also take care of its own brand, and the brands that originate in it.
However, what we should draw attention to is the fact that brands should not be discussed in terms of restricting access of foreign brands to the local market. We should steer this story towards the development of domestic brands, especially in terms of the development of competitive advantage abroad – even outside the region.
The authorities could, for example, promote certain behaviors and thereby build its brand in a certain direction. In England, for example, in order to reduce costs in the health care system, the government promotes cycling, and this move further contributes to building the brand of England as a country of healthy living. This in turn advantages brands dealing with cycling, both on the domestic and the international market.
Media Marketing: According to the regional list of the Top 25 brands, it turns out that our diet is very unhealthy. Among the food brands that reached the Top 25 there are maybe only 2-3 brands that would pass even a marginally serious selection by nutritionists and be recommended for consumers.
Ismir Omeragić: That is especially true if we see that one section of the population drinks Fairy or spreads Nivea cream on bread. I’m kidding of course.
We can’t be too strict. Small steps are always the way to big progress.
A different picture is painted by the absence from the list of brands from certain other categories, for example cigarettes or alcoholic beverages. Brands of these categories are not consumed by a significant portion of the population. Although very well known, due to the weaker penetration of these categories, these brands are absent from Valicon’s list of the strongest brands.
What distinguishes brands that are riding the wave of a healthy lifestyle is that they are still niche players, which meet the needs of only part of the population.
It’s worth pointing out something interesting in the list in Croatia – in first place is Jana (water), and Coca-Cola came in fifth.
Analysis of brand ranking in this sense is a good way to finish the conversation as we started it. The results of brand research can be seen from many different angles, even in terms of lifestyle.