Now that winter is no longer coming and is in fact here, I thought I should do the reasonable thing and buy a new BBQ. As you may remember I am in the middle of building a new home, with finances managed by a particularly stingy efficient Home Capex Committee. A BBQ was surprisingly (at least, to me) not on the list of requirements I had apparently signed off on some time ago. And the Committee could find no capital for reactive research needs – even if it was for this week’s blog.

And so I followed the age old corporate practice and raided contingency’s contingency fund.

Turns out a Weber Q can really hurt. Feeling (a little) bad, I turned to the net in search of the lowest price. More issues… you see, Weber is a clever brand, and enough in demand to command a premium in the market. Not one of the major retailers had meaningful discounts – suggesting Weber’s cost price is uniformly high, and margins for traders slim all round… not dis-similar to Apple.

Remembering my own sage advice on perseverance I finally found a site with a discount. Only $50, good but not needle shifting, but enough for me to put my research piece into play.

You see, I’d noticed Mitre 10 promised never to be beaten on price, and if they were, to drop their price to 15% below the competitor. Mitre 10 were as good as their word, marking their (purchased for research purposes only…) $999 Weber down to a mere $806. A win for the consumer.

Or was it? Brand messages are a great thing – but would Mitre 10 be doing this if they weren’t making money? It took me a while to unravel it, but here’s what’s really going on:

  • The price promise got me in-store. Where I promptly bought a few accessories, plus some DIY stuff I’d promised to myself a while ago. Without the price promise I wouldn’t have been there for them to exploit.
  • Being a good communicator I shared my research findings with multiple mates. In short – I became a promoter for Mitre 10’s brand promise.
  • The promise creates a subconscious concept for you of Mitre 10 as the cheapest… which it isn’ It is only the cheapest on an item if you can be arsed to do the work and find it lower elsewhere. You aren’t going to do that for smaller items, looping us right back to our old friend “value = benefits – costs”. On small items that just doesn’t stack up, and yet there you are, still subconsciously assuming Mitre 10 is cheap.

So, what exactly is a brand promise? This is a pretty good start, from the godfather of marketing, Philip Kotler:

A brand promise is the marketer’s vision of what the brand must be and do for consumers”

An eloquent definition, but one that needs more definition. Here’s three more elements that go towards defining a brand promise – with some thoughts on how Mitre 10 fared:

  • It must convey a compelling benefit Tick were never knowingly beaten on price. In fact, were so confident, well even beat any lower price by 15%.         
  • It must be authentic & credible Tick everything about Mitre10 is authentic.. DYI is in the DNA, New Zealand owned, and with a price promise. At no point did I even consider they wouldnt honour that.
  • It must be kept, every time Tick Mitre 10 has this process down pat. They called the competitor, confirmed the price, and bingo – I was done. This was seamless and business as usual for the staff.

Some questions to ponder:

  • What is your business brand promise – how does is it stack against the three elements?
  • What about your personal professional brand promise – how do you stack up?
  • Who can help me perfect a medium rare on a Weber…?? Can I trust this chart? And how come one of the best resources I can find for something as classically Kiwi as a BBQ comes from Australia??? Should I use science (a thermometer ) or art (pressure test)?


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