What do Santa, McDonald’s and Coke have in Common?

Branding Santa-McDonalds-Coke-AdelaideBrand Strategy Tips from the Big Guy

This weekend I have completed a random survey of five people comprising three adults and two children.  Not the most statistically sound or robust marketing survey I have ever implemented however, it gave me food for thought.

The question I asked was ‘What do Santa, McDonald’s and Coke have in common?’  The superficial answer appears to be the colour red.

Santa and Coke obviously have a long-term relationship with Santa being featured in Coke commercials since the 1920s.

However, I put it to you that there are five far deeper similarities that will resonate among those of you who are passionate about your marketing.

Target Markets

All three have very clear Primary Target Markets.  Santa targets little children but goes to the trouble of segmenting them into those that are ‘naughty’ and those who are ‘nice’.

Santa illustrates that being clear about who are your most important and profitable customers is critical to the success of any brand

However, like McDonald’s and Coke Santa also does business with other market segments who are outside of his Primary Target Market.  He does not invest his marketing budget in targeting teenagers, Gen Y or X, Baby Boomers or even older demographics but they are welcome to participate and do business with Santa if they wish.

If you want to know more about how Santa segments his markets and selects his Primary Target Markets then try Target Market Selection: 2014 Marketing Summer School (Part 2)  or Only the Whole World has Changed – Target Market Selection in 2014 for assistance.

Needs Analysis

All three brands are methodical about their research and analysis of their customer’s needs. McDonald’s and Coke make significant investments in consumer research in order to understand the needs, wants and purchasing behavior of their Primary Target Markets.

Santa knows that understanding your customer needs is critical if you want to continually satisfy your customers and hit the spot with your communication messages

Santa may not spend his research budget on formal consumer focus groups.  However, he does survey as many children as possible using two main research tools.

The first research tool is the implementation of One-on-one In-depth research interviews whereby Santa sits a very large sample size of children on his lap and asks them directly “What do you want for Christmas?”

The second research tool being a written survey whereby Santa has systematised the research process by providing parents around the world with instructions for facilitating a brief survey in the form of asking children to write a list of things that they want for Christmas.

Elves in Uniforms

Given that St Nicholas dates back to the 4th Century I can only assume that both McDonald’s and Coke have taken a leaf out of Santa’s brand management book when it comes to consistent branding.

Although Santa is the clear leader in this area you will note that all three brands protect their Desired Brand Positioning vigilantly, this is the hall mark of successful brand strategy

Santa is a true leader in the area of brand consistency having remained constant in uniform and personal grooming for decades.  In fact, Team Santa as a whole are to be commended for their consistency.  Over the years Santa and his Elves, Reindeer and other marketing and operations staff have all been consistent in their presentation and branding.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Santa and other successful brands get their Marketing and Brand Strategy right then please review The Baker Marketing: 2014 Marketing Summer School (Part 1) which will guide you towards other related articles and information.

Reliable Distribution

No one can dispute the Distribution Penetration of these three marketing giants.  Santa, McDonald’s and Coke all have immense distribution penetration in hundreds of markets around the world.

To me Santa’s achievements are most significant given his rudimentary mode of physical distribution (i.e. the Reindeer etc.) and the inconvenience of having a head office based in the North Pole.  Not to mention the chimney thing.

Not Everyone Believes their Story

Sadly, like all big brands there are always going to be ‘Them Haters’ out there.  People who don’t fully embrace the brand heritage and story.

Just as not everyone believes that they are ‘Lovin’ it’ at McDonald’s or ‘Opening Happiness’ with Coke, not everyone believes in Santa!




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