Be the Bear

There’s an old joke – you don’t have to be faster than the bear; you just have to be faster than the guy next to you. For a while, that’s how brands in many industries operated, wherein the bear represented the constant threat of going out of business. If they were just faster and more agile than the people next to them (their immediate competition) they would outlast and outmaneuver failure, ultimately surviving.

But now? Now there are 12 guys next to you – and they each have a car.


When it comes to economics, it’s important to distinguish between “market share” and “share of wallet” – “market share” refers to company’s portion of sales within its particular industry, whereas “share of wallet” tracks how much individuals spend within a specific company in that industry. It’s a question of awareness (market share) versus loyalty (share of wallet).


Once the basic needs of a consumer are paid for (groceries, utilities, mortgage/rent, etc.), they can turn their attention towards entertainment. That used to result in a direct competition between entertainment/hospitality industry brands like bars, hotels, restaurants, etc. But with advances in technology and improvements in the economy, consumers now have an incredible amount of choice for how they decide to spend their “extra” income each month…so a brand isn’t just competing against a similar product/offering; they are competing against every other product/offering that a consumer might purchase – their total wallet.

Suddenly the bear chasing you and your immediate competitors doesn’t seem like the biggest threat. But what if you became the bear? What if you stopped worrying about being the prey, and started being the hunter? Start looking at the entire forest – where are there other opportunities?

    After years of exposure to marketing gimmicks and increasingly elaborate advertising tactics, modern consumers are interested in (and expect) more than just the product for sale. With more entertainment options available than ever before, how can your brand avoid the “sea of sameness” and truly stand out? Consider the holistic customer experience; one designed to be more dynamic and immersive. For instance, some innovative brands like IKEA knew that shopping all day can make consumers hungry, so they included an on-site dining option. Now the local burger joint is competing with a multi-billion-dollar Swedish furniture retailer. So start looking at the entire customer journey from the moment they walk into your store (or visit your website) to build a more complete, sensory ecosystem designed to compete and perform on multiple levels.
    Adapt, or die. In the Entertainment & Hospitality industry, companies need to prioritize their audiences and customize their offerings – but that first involves understanding who your audiences are, how they behave, and how that behavior might change over time. Rather than just obsessing over seasonal sales discounts to bring people into your location, think about ways to evolve the overall customer experience to meet different generational preferences. This way you’re not just creating a temporary “brand bump” – you’re increasing your overall “brand relevance” and your offering feels fresh and unique to all ages. To do all of this within a tighter budget, you need to be laser-focused on consumer insights and feedback. By listening to the needs of your customers instead of telling them how to buy, you’re creating a more welcoming, inclusive environment.
    For Entertainment & Hospitality companies looking to get a marketing/advertising edge, there is a natural inclination to try and adopt every new technology, social tool or tactic available. But that can get expensive, time consuming, and risk splintering your brand message. Just because something is popular (or your immediate competitor is doing it), doesn’t mean it is right for your brand. By considering the total wallet, you’re able to look at disparate industries for examples of tactics that might not be immediately clear. There’s where convergence lives, and why a lot of movie theaters began incorporating on-demand fine dining and bar options. If they had been overly focused on their immediate competitor, they might have just fixated on ticket prices. But remember – an effective strategy means adopting the RIGHT tools and technologies, not just the latest trends. If you run a small theater with tight margins in a dry town, putting in an expensive bar might not make sense.

Finally, even if you’ve designed this new holistic experience, focused on ways to involve new generations, and adopted the right new technology/tactics – don’t just expect your customers to show up. Being innovative often requires exposure and training, so keep that in mind when buying media and creating marketing communications.

There are less than six months left this year. Be the bear.

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