Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cost Control Gone Bad..Subway Agrees to Make all "Footlongs" well.. A Foot Long

We have all seen it in just about everything you buy; packaging is thinner (resulting in more damaged product), metal is replaced with plastic, minor features just no longer exist, what was 4oz is now 3.8oz (same price)... well, you get the picture.  To "manage costs" just about every company eventually goes too far.  What is that limit you ask?  It is when the brand promise is violated to save a few cents.

This is the case of the "Footlong" sandwich which it turns out was not a footlong.  At first the company declared that the word "footlong" was more of a trade name and not intended to imply the sandwich was actually a foot long.  Yea right.  And now the company finally comes out and agrees they will make all future sandwiches a foot long.  

I bring this up because all who run companies have to realize there is an unwritten brand promise to customers which cannot be violated or you risk huge backlash.  Virtually every company's single largest asset is its brand and the brand is based solely on trust.  The only reason any brand would command any premium over a commodity price is that the consumer believes somehow the people behind that brand name are doing something no one else is.  So, without knowing what that is (i.e, they trust) people will pay a premium.

When the consumer realizes the trust has been violated they turn on the brand fast and furiously.

This is the reason why there is virtually no intrinsic brand loyalty in air travel.  Most (not all with Southwest being a notable exception) have decided the best way to make money from customers is to declare war on them.  Every consumer of air travel knows it does not cost the company $150 to change a flight.  Yet, the airlines charge it because they are exerting quasi-monopoly power.  Because of this there is no trust and therefore the brand is essentially meaningless.

So, don't forget:  The brand is built on trust and as we see here when the trust is violated, the wrath will come down.

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