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What is Defensive Marketing and why is it important?

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Nov 25, 2021
What is Defensive Marketing and why is it important? title banner

Defensive marketing, as the name implies, takes a defensive stance toward customers, regardless of how fierce the competition is. Much of the experimentation processes come to a standstill once this mode is implemented. It's critical to realise that the company's real "defence" is about its market position, not the items it sells.


(Must Read: Introduction to Industrial Marketing)


Defensive Marketing - An Overview


Whenever a new firm comes up with an offer that threatens their status as market leaders, big corporations, which are normally market leaders regardless of industry, use defensive marketing.


The majority of countries now have a free-market economy. In a free economy, anyone with a good idea and product can start a business. If a new firm provides a superior product at a reasonable price, it might swiftly become the industry's new leader.


( Also Read: Explore the Offensive Marketing Strategy )


As a result, the market leader position of long-established enterprises might be readily shifted. As a result, dominant corporations labour tirelessly to protect their market leadership through defensive marketing.


Anyone, on the other hand, can use defensive marketing to protect their market share. Not only leaders, but everyone's market share is at stake in today's startup ecosystem.


Importance of Defensive Marketing


It is unnecessary to discuss the need for defensive marketing. The following are some points that will give you a sense of how crucial marketing is.


  1. When a company has a big market share in an industry and multiple competitors are continually challenging the leaders, this marketing is essential.


Leaders cannot disregard their competition, no matter how little, in today's volatile business environment.


Any new competitor joining the sector puts everyone's market share in jeopardy, not just the leaders. That is why a defensive marketing strategy is crucial.


  1. "Change is the only constant," says an adage. As a result, client expectations are rapidly evolving. This is why marketing is so important for businesses since they want to stay relevant by meeting their customers' requirements.


( Suggested Blog: B2B Marketing - Overview, Purpose and Strategies )


How to Implement a Robust Defensive Marketing Strategy?


Consider what your best form of defence is before launching a defensive marketing approach. To put it another way, you must determine what you will fight against, which may include:


  • Your customer's perception of you, or your brand identity.


  • The assortment of items and services that support that brand identity, as well as their prices.


  • Advertising is one means of communicating your brand identity.


It's preferable to have a variety of options to choose from. You'd want cannons and archers to defend your castle, as well as a deep moat, to use our brand moat example.


( Also Read: Native Advertising - Meaning, Examples and How it Works )

Let's have a look at some of the tactics that are currently being used.


I. Go after yourself


At first look, attacking yourself may appear to be paradoxical. Google, on the other hand, has mastered this defence tactic.


The self-attack entails developing and presenting new items that are superior to your current line-up, rendering your current products outdated.


Even though Google is the most used search engine, it is always evolving. It is always adding new features to improve the search experience for users, such as Knowledge Panels, Answer Boxes, and Featured Snippets.


( Must Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Market Research Analysis )


This defence approach turns you into a "moving target" that confuses your opponents because they don't know where to look for you.


Competitors, in our scenario, end up competing with Google instead of developing new breakthrough technology of their own. Google is "playing" in other markets in addition to introducing search engine functions. For example, Google Docs might be made available for free in order to compete with Microsoft Office.


( Speaking of Microsoft, check out our blog on AI in Microsoft)


With a self-attack, you may lose short-term profit margins, but you keep your long-term goal of market share.


Watch this: Market Leader Strategies - Leadership strategy

2. Activate your dormant market


A brand's market share can sometimes become complacent, and it stops increasing. We saw how Tylenol reacted quickly and efficiently to the threat of Datril in the previous case, and as a result, they roused their audience.


( Suggested Blog: Marketing Management Goals )


However, you do not have to wait until your brand is under attack to begin defending it. With marketing strategies that maintain your position, grow your brand further, and guarantee your competitors don't make any substantial advances, you may remind existing customers and attract possible new customers.


3. Initiate specific actions


Tesco took certain specific efforts to defend its territory when US retail behemoth Walmart chose to attack the UK store area.


Tesco was able to derail Walmart's plans in the UK by using data intelligence from its Clubcard customer loyalty programme.


( Also Read: Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Marketing Analytics )


Tesco handed out targeted coupons and promos to existing customers, as well as lowering costs in-store for all customers in order to compete with Walmart.


To defend your market share, use your unique customer insights to implement particular measures.



4. Make improvements to your product


Defending your brand can sometimes be as simple as making minor changes to your product or service. We saw how Facebook was able to battle Google Plus with a simple new feature in the last case. 


In other circumstances, you may need to take a more radical approach and make a significant change to outperform your competitors.


( Also Read: Inbound vs Outbound Marketing )


However, you must be careful not to make too many changes to your present product, or you may lose customers. For example, when Coca-Cola changed the taste of their drink to match Pepsi and produced the sweeter-tasting New Coke, their defence plan backfired, undermining their brand and upsetting their core consumer base.


As a result, rather than attempting to steal Pepsi's customers, Coca-Cola had to return to its original recipe in order to placate its customers and maintain its brand position.



5. Make a price adjustment


Changing your pricing is a common defensive technique. However, this does not always imply a lower price. The following are four possibilities:


  • Reduce your rates to keep up with or outperform the new competition. For instance, Tylenol experienced a 35 percent price drop when Datril was introduced.


  • If you want to establish yourself as a premium alternative and make your consumers feel particularly special, raise your prices. Mercedes, for example, maintains higher costs than its competitors.


  • Maintain the same rates while adding more features and benefits to your product or service. A cloud storage provider, for example, might offer extra gigabytes of storage for the same fee.


  • Make a new price model available, such as a subscription-based service. Premium automakers such as Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes, for example, are experimenting with a car subscription service.



6. Advertise your strengths


When confronted with a new rival, advertising is a tried and true defence method. And, in most cases, a well-known brand or market leader should have more money to invest.


If the defensive brand has ten times the income of the rival and they both spend 20% of their revenue on advertising, the defender still has ten times more money to invest.


(Speaking of revenue, check out our blog on Revenue Deficit)


However, the advertising budget isn't the only factor to consider. It's all about how you spend that money.


Watch this: Competitive Strategies for Market Leaders - Market Leader Strategies


In a nutshell


All in all, we would like to conclude by saying that new competitors must be kept in mind by all brands, especially market leaders. 


Startups can pounce overnight in the internet age, so be on the lookout. It's likely that if you don't defend your brand's position, you'll lose some customers. In the worst-case scenario, you could lose your entire business.


As a result, make sure you have a strong defensive marketing strategy in place to safeguard your brand, often known as your brand moat. And try to keep as many of your current consumers as possible while expanding your market share.

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