Marketing constantly requires new strategies to stay competitive and generate profits. Loyalty, added value and interpersonal relationships are some of the key concepts to implement in a marketing plan.
by Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Day by day the paints and coatings industry, in all production chains, must face daily competition and the different demands that customers make when purchasing products for consumption.
This time we will leave aside the technical issue and give way to the strategic one. For a company the word "sell" makes it successful or leads to bankruptcy. Then come other equally important components such as the quality and backing of what is offered. But the goal will always be to sell and find the best mechanisms to achieve that goal.
It is for this reason, that in this opportunity we will focus our concepts on the marketing strategies that must be taken into account for the correct commercialization of paints, coatings and their products for formulation, which work to continue attracting consumers and positioning brands. How do you do it?, what strategies do you use?, do you believe in camaraderie with colleagues in the industry?, is there misleading advertising or unfair competition?, do you participate in fairs?
But solving these questions is purely personal; This article will present some of the current strategies for the commercialization of paints and according to what has been commented by those who work in this world of marketing, you will be able to solve those and other concerns.
Strategies against commodity prices
We well know that commodities navigate a rise / fall in prices that leave any actor in the chain in uncertainty. One of the goals of a company's sales team is to try to lessen the impact on prices so that they are not reflected in the customer's pocket.
According to Claudio Fazzone, manager of Venmark of Argentina, "a clear concern is being seen for this issue and to mitigate the impact companies are focusing both on the development of new suppliers and on the reformulation of products. From the commercial point of view it is very important to have lines of greater added value that allow us to achieve profitability levels above the average, in this way part of this impact could be absorbed without transferring cost fluctuations to price. Undoubtedly, the latter negatively impacts the market."
For his part, Edar Gacharná, technical manager of Mesa Hermanos, said that one of the strategies that could give good results is based on taking risks and maintaining inventory without modifying prices: "We as importers and marketers of raw materials maintain stock and that protects us to a certain extent, because telling customers that we have inventory for about two months, it will allow them to prepare and manage their costs; however, this cannot happen in all cases and has its risks."
Luiz Rizkalla, commercial manager for Latin America of Eastman, agreed with the above and said that "we are very faithful to our strategic markets in Latin America, we always seek not to make very drastic changes in the prices of raw materials because that affects the chain, however we can not be oblivious to the increases that are presented, and that is why we must always be prepared."
Industry in the process of change
For Claudio Fazzone, within the sector of paint manufacturers, these previously focused on the commercialization of their products for the industrial market, but left aside other customers who could increase their participation in the business. "I would say that for many years the product was thinking as a construction issue and that not so many years ago it began to be thought of as a decoration issue. The focus of marketing strategy implementations was more industrial than massive. For some time now this has been changing at an accelerated pace."
Fazzone emphasizes that it is time to change customer habits and that this allows to increase consumption in the region. The key is to create needs and encourage the use of products with quality of life in mind.
"Historically, consumption was linked to construction indicators and the habit installed in the population of fixing their home. If we compare with other industries, for example clothing, we should ask ourselves: do I really need a new shirt? The answers will be because it is a color that I do not have, because it is from the new collection and the ones I have went out of fashion. We buy a new shirt thinking that we have something that will make us feel better. This is what apparel companies work on with new collections, new models, communication. This is what we have to achieve with our products," Claudio explained.
Do we use Social Media?
How successful can be the implementation of social networks as a commercial strategy Currently, and despite its fame, the use of social networks has not been so exploited by our industry, which means leaving aside a tool with a high potential and that can mean a better relationship with the customer and in a key element of commerce.
"Social media today must be part of our marketing budget in increasingly significant percentages. It is interesting to see the work that many mass consumption companies are doing in this channel. Of course, when we talk about social networks we talk about the implementation of digital marketing actions that involve them as the media in which they are developed. The mobile phone is the main protagonist of this transformation and the growth potential of the channel, as a result of the growth of smart phones, is exponential," explained Fazzone.
The manager of Venmark is convinced that social networks allow a more fluid dialogue with consumers. "There is no doubt that this is an excellent opportunity to work on the need to transform the concept of painting into a pleasant situation, of enjoyment, of renewal, of changes. This also offers the possibility of having tools such as the simulation of environments that change color, with the online assistance of technicians and decorators, with promotional actions that motivate the purchase, with the development of e-commerce. I think there's a lot to do."
There are some comparative advertisements that seek to show benefits of one brand over another. But this in our field is not frequent; although it is still delicate, since they do not have a technical criterion that guarantees that one product is better than another.
Claudio Fazzone's experience has allowed him to analyze some strategies that brands use to move their products forward, regardless of the method. "Some companies resort to making misleading advertisements by advertising attributes of a product that does not actually exist. In the short term it can have an impact on the sale of them, but in the long term it ends up being counterproductive both for the company that carries it out and for the market itself".
On the other hand, companies continue to bet on their own benefit in commercial work and that this impacts on the client, which prevents there being camaraderie among members of the industry in the commercial field.
"Reality shows us that although there are channels of communication and relationship at technical levels, commercially the level of joint work is very low. Let's think that in the region we have shared problems, starting with low per capita consumption to the problems of concentration in marketing, but so far it was not possible to glimpse coordinated actions to improve these issues, "said Claudio.
Although it may sound romantic or even utopian, surely a more united work on the part of those who make up the industry could bring better results for everyone. Until now, the work of the associations has allowed to keep together certain actors in the sector, but this is not enough and we hope that with the continuous generation of new marketing alternatives, companies dare to explore joint work and see it as a pro for group benefit.
Key current marketing strategies
Claudio Fazzone, manager of the advisory company Venmark, reveals some strategies to take into account to develop an adequate marketing process.
- Take care of and add value to the brand: have a strong brand, which has attributes valued by customers (quality, guarantee, advice), add value to it constantly, working on improvements, new developments, changes that accompany the needs of consumers and the market and understand that the brand is everyone's business. The brands that have a strong position in their segments are the ones that take care of it in all aspects: production, presentation, services, deliveries, communication.
- Focus on the customer: companies that are close to their customers: intermediate (shops) and final (consumers), and manage to adapt their services and products to the changing needs of the market with greater speed and efficiency, are the ones that take greater advantages.
- Work at the point of sale: a trend we are experiencing is the greater independence of the consumer at the time of deciding. Although, as we mentioned, having a well-positioned brand will allow us to achieve an approach with the buyer, the sale is decided at the point of sale. If our brand has a correct exhibition of products, with samples of application, with trained personnel to advise and in an environment, store, that responds to what we sell, the chances of success will be greater.
- Retain professionals and private clients: for both audiences, companies implement actions with different tools. Achieving the loyalty of professionals is fundamental given their role as recommenders and applicators, loyalty, or relationship with the particular public begins to be possible due to the development of social networks.
- Be stronger where you are strong: many brands / companies achieve a strong positioning in a given product and from this they develop a line expansion supported by this positioning. Companies that did not neglect the product that "opened" the way and continued to add value to it, were able to grow with other lines. Others that prioritized line expansion allowed competitors to displace their flagship product affecting the positioning of the brand. Never stop adding value to your flagship product/brand.