Creating a successful brand in the marketplace requires a lot of work and is an extremely expensive exercise. But, once a brand is established the obvious question is ‘what next’? A common strategy adopted by large corporations is to introduce a ‘Flanker Brand’.

‘Flanker Brand’ essentially means a new brand that is introduced for an existing category of products which is intended to compete without harming an existing brand’s reputation by targeting a different class or grade of consumers for these products. This strategy is adopted to target a wider share of a market, which otherwise one product alone cannot possibly corner. Large corporations armed with multiple brands for a single product generally strategize their products in two categories:

  1. Premium, for high quality at a higher price; and
  2. Standard, for a lower quality at a lesser price

This defensive strategy involving adopting a companion for an existing brand is popularly referred to as the “flanker strategy. Flanker branding is also used for counter attacking a competitor when faced with the challenge to its existing premium brand.

What is a flanker brand?

A flanker brand is an extension/addition of another brand name by any company in the same product line. Some major Companies have adopted this strategy to give various illusions/ concepts to their customers. For example: Hindustan Unliver Limited has 3 detergent brands namely Surf Excel for Premium segment customers, RIN for middle segment customers and Wheel for the lower segment customers. Similarly, Toyota a famous car manufacturer from Japan mainly sells reasonably priced car and not high-end luxury cars. The common person perceives Toyota as a brand that sells reasonably affordable cars and offers basic comfort. While entering into the market for luxury cars, knowing the customers perception of its cars durability and quality, it adopted the strategy of launching a new brand ‘Lexus’. Clearly, a new brand is designed to compete in the category or product line without damaging the existing brands’ market share by targeting a different group of consumers.

“Fighter branding”

“Fighter branding” or “Multi-branding strategy” is Flanker Brand’s cousin in layman’s language. It is usually a means of achieving a larger total market share than a product/brand can garner alone. Intel introduced “Centrino” processors in order to safeguard its premium “Pentium” brand when faced with a competing low priced product.

Why is flanker branding important?

The advantages of flanker branding are:

  • Attracting new set of the customers that are not served by existing product in the market.
  • Protecting the company, in a situation when one of the brands fail, the other brand survives.
  • Giving an opportunity to the brand owner of introducing products at a different price, higher/lower under the flanker brand without affecting the price of the products under the existing brand.
  • Using the brand as a defense i.e. to counter attack a competitor who attacks an existing brand with a unique offering.

Conclusion

Competing with your own business does not intuitively make sense. But, if we think about the situation thoroughly, companies do introduce similar brands to compete against their main profitable brand the aim being reducing the probability of a competitor winning over its market share. Think about it, if a flanker brand is introduced, the existing brand may face a reduction in its sales but on the other hand, the Company will acquire larger market share with the help of its two brands ‘the main brand’ and ‘the Flanker Brand’.

Developing flanker brands does present challenges. It is a crucial decision in brand management, and therefore requires thorough market research and the nerves to experiment. Creating another brand requires extensive research and substantial additional advertising expenses need to be incurred for creating a name and recognition for the new brand.

Flanker Branding is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a company to bring into its fold segments of the public, which were hereto indifferent to its main brand. This will no doubt assist the Company in increasing its market share for a particular category of products.