The private labeled bottled water industry is exciting with tremendous growth opportunities and the ability for suppliers to offer their customers and strategic partners creative, effective advertising solutions.
But like any business, care is required to develop the business in a profitable way and the best way to do this is to establish a focused business development effort that utilizes the tools and techniques established by successful business.
The first step is to define the concept "business development".
Business development "includes a number of techniques designed to grow an economic enterprise. Such techniques include, but are not limited to, assessments of marketing opportunities and target markets, intelligence gathering on customers and competitors, generating leads for possible sales, follow up sales activity , formal proposal writing and business model design.
Business development involves evaluating a business and then realizing its full potential, using such tools as marketing, sales, information management and customer service. For a sound company able to withstand competitors, business development never stops but is an ongoing process. "(Source: Wikipedia)
From this definition it is clear that business development is more than closing the sale and each technique requires detailed planning and follow up.
Using the concepts of business development, it is possible to establish a profitable private label water business but it takes reasonable initial and continuing effort.
The following case study involves a fictional Bottled Water company that entered the private labeled bottled water business. For discussion purposes it will be called ABC bottler ("ABC")
Unique Value Proposition:
An initial challenge is the development of a Unique Value Proposition that answers the question "Why should I buy from you".
After a review of the market and the competition it was determined that private labeled bottled water was a powerful, cost effective, advertising vehicle but because a customer's brand was affected, high product quality and customer service was required. ABC's Unique Value Proposition was established and stated:
"ABC will provide powerful and cost effective advertising and brand promotion for its customers based upon the highest quality consumable private label water, label design and customer service."
Marketing and Target Markets:
Field and internet research was conducted with the basic question being: What are the characteristics of industries are most likely to use our product at a price that is profitable to us. Key characteristics were developed:
- Prospects that provide a quality product or service.
- Industries operating in a competitive market environment where product / service differentiation was critical.
- Prospects that required drinking water for customers, clients or prospects.
- Prospects that maintained a quality brand image.
Initial research indicated that the following industries were initially high potential targets:
- Hospitality (Hotels and Spas)
- Mortgage Brokers
- Real Estate
- Ski Resorts
Sales Channels and Market Access:
It was decided that two channels would be used to go to market – direct selling and e-commerce. An e-commerce site was developed that allowed customers to design their own label for the bottles or provide an existing design consistent with the customer brand strategy. Search Engine Marketing and Optimization techniques were used to promote this channel.
A direct sales staff was formed to develop and close sales opportunities and these efforts were supported by a direct mail campaign and networking with local chambers of commerce, local trade associations and lead sharing groups.
The sales effort, after a series of initial false starts and disappointments matured successfully as we reviewed and revised the fine points of our effort.
Product Quality and Customer Service:
ABC's corporate strategy for all products was to stay at the high end of the market and this was particularly true for private label bottled water where the market is characterized by cutthroat competition and many low quality vendors who are slashing prices and selling on price rather than quality .
ABC focused on three areas of quality:
- Water purity – ABC used a steam distillation / ozonation process that guaranteed 99.9% pure water that tasted delicious.
- Label Design Quality – ABC used an in house professional designer to guarantee label design quality.
- Label Print Quality – ABC used laminated label stock that was extremely durable and water proof and used digital or flexo printing technology to guarantee quality.
Customer service was particularly important as ABC established a reputation for delivering on time and correctly. If mistakes occurred, and they did, ABC adopted a no questions asked guarantee. ABC established a reputation as a reliable vendor for its customers.
The business became a successful mainstay of ABC's business but only because it developed a planned, business development process that was reviewed constantly and made changes that the market required.