Marketing & Procurement – Natural Partners in Managing the Brand

Dave HenshallBrand ManagementLeave a Comment


Marketing & Procurement – Natural Partners in Managing the Brand

Marketing & Procurement – Natural Partners in Managing the Brand – We argue that through their joint focus and contribution to the organisations brands and reputation, Marketing and Procurement should be natural allies.

“Our Focus is on markets and brands, but without an effective supply chain, we cannot even begin to compete”
Chairman, Unilever

The Role of Supply Management in Brand Building:

The statement above illustrates the importance of the supply chain in building brands. Supply Managements integral role in a company’s operations make it a natural hub for all stakeholders, customers, suppliers, subcontractors and service providers to effectively align and collaborate in supporting and building the brand.

Procurement and Supply Management as a branding tool concerns all the links between brand strategies and execution at the customer level. Viewed in this light, alignment of supply chain strategies with the overall business strategy would seem a ‘no brainer’.

In the process of brand creation, Marketing must create a sustainable brand image and establish strong and loyal relationships with its customers. At the same time, Procurement must develop similar relationships with its suppliers, distributors and logistics providers on whom it relies. The corporate brand is therefore highly ‘relationship dependent’ across the entire supply chain.

Companies must be innovative in all phases from product design to production or service delivery, in order to deliver high quality, original and differentiated products and services. For procurement and supply management the key is:

  • gaining early involvement in the brand creation process to provide input into those aspects  dependent upon suppliers
  • access to fact based data regarding customer needs, experiences and preferences etc.

The aim is to integrate the brand management and procurement processes to gain access to the customer experience and to provide inputs to differentiate the brand from competitors via the supply chain.

Customer Centric Procurement:

A company’s product, image, and brand are visible at every touch-point the company has with its stakeholders. It is therefore important to foster customer-satisfying behaviors across its supply chain by linking its business processes from customers through to its suppliers. For Supply Management this means focusing on data captured at the point of use. Ie. Demand driven data, taken directly from the customer touch points.

Touch points are important because customers form perceptions of your organisation and brand based on their cumulative experiences. The touch points provide your brand with the opportunity to differentiate itself and when well conceived, these touch-points not only carry your company’s strategic marketing strategy but also provide the framework for your customers ‘experiential’ brand perception.

In addition to the company/brand name, logo, trade mark, web site, literature, call centers etc. A company’s suppliers may represent the single largest point of customer contact, particularly in service industries. Examples of customer touch points impacted by procurement may include:

  • Customer collection
  • Service Delivery
  • Product packaging, E-commerce site, Retail space,
  • Order confirmation, Price list, Shopping Bag, etc.
  • Truck, Driver, Delivery note, On line order tracking, etc.

Marketing and Procurement must determine which touch points are the most important for brand growth? By improving their customer-centricity through a better understanding of customer touch points and refining the product or service delivery to maximize the customer experience, customer relationships can be improved. By improving customer relationships, organizations can improve market share, sales, and customer loyalty.

A Corporate Brand Driven Approach to SRM:

By building a network of suppliers who not only have the desired capabilities, but are also committed to your organisations core values, Supply Management can not only ensure stricter control over production conditions but also facilitate guidance, training, and support to the band:

  • By developing a code of conduct by which suppliers are continuously raising their standards in respect of social and working conditions and the environment
  • Building trust in relationships with suppliers
  • Reducing the threat of opportunistic behavior by suppliers
  • Facilitating product and service innovation

By matching the standards your suppliers have to meet closely to your company’s corporate brand values, suppliers become a key component in supporting the brand. Channel control therefore, through relationships formed with suppliers becomes a key success factor in brand management.

A supply base that has been educated in and is committed to your company’s core values can be a valuable resource that, not only supports the brand, but also consistency and integration with the wider supplier strategy. Enhanced customer value is then developed and delivered through a network of suppliers who become an explicit part of the brand values.


Marketing & Procurement – Natural Partners in Managing the Brand


In the end, it is the action that counts. Any use of rhetoric that is not followed through with action will result in brand harming cynicism that risks devaluing the value of the brand.

Customer relationships can no longer be considered exclusively the domains of sales and marketing or customer service. If the accuracy of invoices, or the professionalism of suppliers or cleanliness of your office or store is poor, then the customer experience will suffer no matter how well your company representative performs.

Enlightened organisations know that they can best enhance relationships with customers by improving touch points across the entire enterprise. This can best be achieved by Marketing, Procurement and Supply Management working collaboratively to build the brand through a market differentiated customer experience.

This cannot be achieved without Procurement and Supply Management gaining access to the end customer.

Nuff said...

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