The new Pepsi Next launch has prompted me to consider the use of flanker brands to leverage off the value of a strong brand. Use of a ’flanker brand’ allows the brand owner to capture a larger market by offering a different product to that offered under the core brand.

What is a ‘flanker brand’?

For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t until recently), the term ‘flanker’ is used in military terms to describe a soldier positioned to protect the flank of troops on the march. A flanker brand, sometimes called a ‘fighter brand’, plays a similar role.

In other words, a flanker brand is used to offer a new product to the market in order to capture a larger portion of the market – ‘from the side’, so to speak – while remaining tied back to the main brand. Normally, the aim is to increase market share by detracting from a competitor’s market share. In turn, this protects, or supports, the main brand.

The classic Australian example is the launch of ‘Jetstar’ by Qantas, to compete with the arrival of budget airlines such as Virgin in the market. Other classic examples include use of new brands in the soft drink arena. Again, you might think of Pepsi’s new ‘NEXT’ brand – different from its initial Pepsi Max brand – for its newest low-calorie option.

Another local example in the retail arena is the Leona Edmiston brand, which has various flanker brands such as the childrenswear brand ‘Little Leona’, and lower-cost offering ‘Ruby’.

Why introduce a flanker brand?

The benefits of a flanker brand are multiple. A flanker brand allows the brand owner to capitalise on the reputation of its main brand, and on all the messages about quality and source which are espoused in the existing brand. This allows for potential capturing of new clients, including those who are unhappy with competitors’ products in the same space, or those who are looking for a more economic choice.

For instance, a ‘diffusion line’ in the fashion segment might capture a younger market, or a cost-conscious market, which the main brand does not necessarily cater for. The flanker brand may be developed to promote different messages about the new product offering from those associated with the main brand.

Things to consider with flanker brands

If you are considering introducing a flanker brand product, it should provide a point of differentiation from the main brand’s product, in terms of quality, price or characteristics. You wouldn’t want to compete with yourself, after all! This may ultimately increase total market share, if customers opt for the flanker brand product over a competitor’s product.

It would also be wise to survey the competitor landscape carefully, to make sure you are offering a truly competing product. The product offered under a flanker brand must be of a quality and kind suitable to preserve the value and reputation of the main brand.

Final thoughts

Flanker brands are apparently most popular in difficult economic times, when a ‘ value for money’ proposition may be more appealing to the market. However, there is no reason why a flanker brand wouldn’t be effective in boom-times, simply to capture a larger market share by leveraging off a key brand.

Your brand is your intellectual asset, and yours to leverage as you wish. A flanker brand could be key to your brand portfolio’s overall success.