Lessons Learned From Delta Faucet's Rebranding Effort

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This semester, for the 11th semester in a row, the top marketing person at Delta Faucet joined our marketing MBAs to share their multi-year rebranding effort. Last week, Susan Fisher spent 2-1/2 hours walking us through: all the steps they’ve taken, how they came up with this strategy, and the long-term payoff of strategic marketing. The story itself is highly engaging. But this time, I tried to capture some key recommendations about how to craft and execute a great marketing strategy:

  • Look inward in positioning and branding. Delta spent 18 months trying to understand the market and what consumers were doing with faucets. But, when it came time to finalize their positioning and branding, they looked inward. What is Delta already good at? You want to leverage what you are already doing in your positioning, if you can. For Delta, innovation had always been part of its history and was a reason for its founding. Likewise, the brand has to be something that the people can believe in and carry out every day. You have to be who you really are.
  • Recognize when you need multiple brands. Faucet needs are highly diversified. Some people are price-driven. Others want extremely stylish faucets and are willing to pay for it. This breadth is too high for 1 brand to cover. So, Delta Faucets manages 3 brands to cover the entire market. Delta is the company's signature brand.
  • When you segment the market, your goal should be to figure out which segments you can connect with. Believe it or not, there are about 8 consumer segments in faucets. But, only 3 are available for a pull strategy such that they could be motivated to seek out a faucet brand. The others are not reachable via marketing communications: someone else chooses, always pick the lowest price, completely disengaged, etc. You have to focus on those can motivate to action.
  • Find the customers that value the same things you do. Your goal in picking a target segment is to reach out to those who already value what you do. Then, tee up communications that make it easy for them to recognize that you offer what they want.
  • Remember that segmentation and positioning research is a snapshot in time. Once a brand in the market does something major like rebranding, they will shift how customers think. New attributes will become important. Competitors will react. This means that the axes and positions on market research tools like perceptual maps will shift over time. So, you have to redo your market research every 3-5 years.
  • You need to understand customers’ journeys to purchase. While there is a general decision making process, you need to understand how it varies in your category. What steps do customers go through and what sources of information are they using? You especially need to figure out the role of traditional vs. online sources of information. While only 3% of faucets are sold online, 70% of purchases are influenced by online information.
  • Today, offline and online advertising work together. Early on in their rebranding, Delta noticed that online hits went up during and after its best TV ads ran. Now, they can use this as a metric to assess media choices and ad effectiveness.
  • Bring the branding through all the touchpoints. Don’t stop at ads and the website, look broadly for places to bring your branding alive. Delta redid its packaging, POP displays and even created new displays to generate more revenue for its retailers. All of this worked together to provide a cohesive look for the brand and one that generated more $ for distribution partners.
  • Make the online experience interactive. People go to the web to engage with brands. So, give them a way to engage with your product features and connect to your positioning. Games, contests and sweepstakes can cleverly highlight key benefits. For the ToucH2O kitchen faucet (touch on/off), there was a “whack-a-mole” type game that was touch on, touch off. In2ition Dual Shower Head (hand-held showerhead within fixed head) had a “wash off” game. Now, H2Kinetic showers (more power, less water) has a “reasons to shower” sweepstakes. Make "getting" your branding fun for customers.
  • Long-term, brand building efforts do payoff. After three years of consistent messaging backed by new product innovation, Delta Faucet has seen earned media increase by 250%, web traffic up 200%, and unaided recall up a solid 15 percentage points. Even better, market share is up - an actual "hockey stick" reversal for Delta.

Well done, Delta Faucet. And thanks to Susan Fisher for continuing a partnership with marketing degree students at the Kelley School. Have you seen what Delta can do?