How to Choose Business Partners Carefully: Benefits and Drawbacks of Co-Branding
With all of our talk of Virgin Airlines here at QLP, you’d think that we secretly worked for them or something. Rest assured, we aren’t moonlighting for their marketing department! It just so happens they have been in the news quite a bit lately.
Nothing better than breathing in recycled air!
Virgin Airlines is currently in the news because of their latest collaboration with the popular make-up brand, bareMinerals. If you’ve ever traveled by plane, then you know all too well the dreaded dehydration your skin and lips endure. Their new lipstick is infused with “micronized freshwater pearl powder,” which claims to provide much needed hydration to our lips and to alleviate the effects of air pressure changes in the cabin.
Seem random? Well, Virgin Airlines has a new redesigned ‘Upper Class Cabin’ that they’re hoping to promote with this new co-branding effort. Female cabin crew members will wear the lipstick during the first flight to feature the new cabin (an A330 flight from London to New York) and then free samples will be given to the passengers after that.
Good news, though! Even if you have no upcoming plans to travel with Virgin Airlines on the A330 flight, you can purchase the new bareMinerals lipstick at Virgin Atlantic clubhouse spas and through Retail Therapy (Virgin’s in-flight shopping guide) for the low, low price of $24.
Naturally, this got me thinking about other co-branding examples out there and whether this popular marketing strategy is actually effective or not. I found some benefits to this type of arrangement, but there are also some drawbacks that must be taken into account as well.
Benefits of Co-Branding:
The costs of launching a brand new product are less when you add an existing product or brand to the mix instead of creating an entirely new product. Also, a wider range of consumers can be reached since fans have already been found and made. An example is when General Electric and Culligan decided to work together so that GE didn’t have to create a new water filtration system for their refrigerators and Culligan could become more popular in a wider market. See what happens when companies work together?
Now you can get a steak infused with your favorite booze!
T.G.I Friday’s was banking on this same logic when they introduced Jack Daniels inspired menu items. They’re a successful restaurant and Jack Daniels is a very popular whiskey, so both received a boost when the two combined their talents, expertise, and creativity to produce one amazing result.
Loyal fans will follow a brand to the edges of the Earth, no matter where they go. That’s exactly what Best Western was banking on when they united with the iconic motorcycle company, Harley Davidson. Harley enthusiasts need a place to stay when they’re out riding, so why not at Best Western since they have thousands of hotels all over the world? Program participants are given an exclusive reward card that gives them special treatment at their hotels, which competitors won’t offer to them. This partnership makes complete sense to me, and I’m sure the Harley riders really love it, too!
Drawbacks of Co-Branding:
It isn’t 1870 anymore – time for the world to adjust, too!
Not everything is all rosy and wonderful in Co-Branding Land. There are disadvantages that have to be addressed before you make any rash decisions. Just like talents, expertise, and creativity are all shared among the brands, so are potential negative issues.
For example, when Walmart partnered up with Kathie Lee Gifford on a clothing line, things seemed perfect. She was on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee at the time and had a very successful career. But then the walls fell down when it was discovered that children were being employed to make her clothing line. Even though she didn’t have anything to do with the allegations, her name was attached to the clothing line and therefore she faced some very difficult questions (and still does today)!
Also, sometimes the fit between the two companies partnering up is just wrong from the beginning. Sears Holdings seems to have this market cornered. Featuring Martha Stewart branded products in their Kmart stores may have seemed like a great idea since it would bring her products to the masses, but I was shocked at the partnership. When I think of Miss Martha, I think of expensive kitchen gadgets that are only good for one purpose (and I can’t afford or find the ingredient it’s supposed to be used with), not a discount retailer. Apparently I wasn’t the only one.
Land’s End clothing inside of Sears’ stores always surprised me, too. When I think of Sears, I think of tools and paint, not sixty-dollar shirts or eight-dollar shorts for women! Which is why I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I heard news of Sears shopping around to sell Land’s End. Reaching out into new markets is a great way to expand your brand presence, but if it doesn’t make any sense to the consumer, don’t do it!
Deciding to jump on the co-branding bus (sadly, it’s nothing like the ‘Magic Schoolbus’) shouldn’t be done quickly. Sit down and weigh out your options and determine if the risks and drawbacks are worth the benefits. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak later on!
Do you like the idea of two brands partnering up? Can you think of any really good co-branding examples? What about any bad ones? Sound off below!