I’ve spent a lot of the last year in the various parks, woods and green spaces of South East London. Beautiful in the summer but since the weather has changed I’m all too frequently returning home to plonk my drenched two-year-old in a bath whilst I peel off my sodden socks. Then last week, I found new Nike collaborations with Gore-Tex and instinctively bought them with the understanding this added brand would solve my problem of waterlogged kicks. And as I stood there, with my child on what we now consider to be London’s most challenging children’s climbing frame, I started thinking, how does Gore-Tex work as a brand and could the same approach work for technology companies?
It turns out Gore-Tex, a specialist waterproof textile, is an ingredient brand and for those of us working in the tech industry we should know all about it as a marketing approach – Intel ultimately invented it in the 90’s with their Intel Inside campaign which invited consumers to check their new PC was running Intel, not a competitor chipset. Ingredient brands are superhero b2b brands, specialist components which are added to consumer products by the manufacturers, like Nike, to project a higher quality or performance onto the end product – like my new Air Force 1s. It seems to be something of an untapped secret in b2b marketing with very few examples of success. When launched successfully however they can not only differentiate the product – making it superior in the market and thereby enabling a higher price point – but also help to establish wider awareness of the component and ultimately drive consumer demand for other products badged with the brand. In addition, at a time of increased consumer demand in transparency, ingredient brands can build a connection through the supply chain to the end user, add relevance to new or existing customers and build trust. It’s fair to say it can be a little challenging and difficult to activate though. Nothing will happen without the support from OEMs, or Nike in the case of my trainers, and similar to Gore-Tex, as well as a robust b2b approach they critically need to be able to relate the brand and speak in the language of the consumer audience too.
However, with technology now powering almost every aspect of our lives and with an ever-increasing choice of devices and platforms available, surely more b2b tech companies should be considering an ingredient brand strategy. It’s a challenge but I believe there’s an incredible opportunity for b2b tech brands that are willing to take the chance and are up to the task. If you’d like to discuss further please let me know, otherwise you’ll find me happily jumping in puddles with my daughter.