UPDATE TO PREVIOUS POST
We all know that a brand is like the proverbial chain that is only as strong as its weakest link – – all aspects of the brand need to reflect its core value. Ignoring even a small link can be dangerous to your brand’s integrity.
Case in point: one of a well-regarded company’s least expensive products is constantly undermining the reputation of its expensive core product line – and management has apparently decided that this is ok.
KitchenAid makes high quality, and in some cases iconic appliances that command premium prices (a status brand but not as expensive as SubZero or Viking). We’re all familiar with the classic KitchenAid stand mixers in designer colors. I recently purchased a KitchenAid double wall oven when my old one died. A lot had to do with trust in the KitchenAid brand.
So why would they go cheap on the most prosaic of items – the manual can opener?
When one of our kids stole our standard-issue metal can opener, we went on Amazon and splurged on a KitchenAid can opener in a designer color – it looks like the Hummer of can openers – a little affordable indulgence but one that should perform great and last a long time. The Amazon ratings showed 4 stars and over 1000 reviews. Safe territory.
Except it didn’t work.
Within a few months, it stumbled, stopped opening cans, capable only of spastic puncture wounds, and we ended up buying a less fancy but perfectly serviceable replacement.
Here is where you need to be familiar with the ‘Barbell Review’.
While the brand got a 4 star rating overall, the distribution showed about 30% of the reviews were one star. Had we bothered to read these, we would have learned that this is a product with highly inconsistent quality, and when it goes, it’s completely useless.
Some review excerpts (and there are hundreds of them):
“Really disappointed that this was a KitchenAid product that didn’t outlast an off-brand opener.”
“…it was defective and I really expected more from the KitchenAid name”
“I’m very disappointed. Typically I love KitchenAid brand and that is why I bought this particular can opener. I would not recommend it.“
“Do not trust the KitchenAid brand on this one.“
“Unfortunately I didn’t read the reviews first because well…KITCHENAID! You wouldn’t expect to have to read reviews it’s suppose to be a good brand, this thing sucks!!!“
If you’ve invested time and money to build your brand, why would you want your brand dragged through the mud?
KitchenAid has outsourced this product (to a company called Lifetime Brands) and judging by the dates on the reviews (going back to at least 2012), they’ve not bothered to change this defective design in years – – despite a lot of disappointed buyers.
So who cares?
Well, if your first experience with KitchenAid was the lowly can opener, and it failed, you will be much less inclined to buy the more expensive appliances from which KitchenAid makes its money. There are 500 negative reviews on just one version of this product on Amazon.
The lesson here: rarely, if ever, does it make sense to market a lower quality product under a high quality brand name. (Cadillac Cimarron, anyone?)
This goes beyond product to every encounter a consumer has with your brand. Whether your brand stands for premium, economical, effective, snarky, eco-friendly, high-tech or whatever, it all has to be consistent. Branding 101.
In a classic demonstration of good money chasing bad, we’re sending our crippled can opener back to Lifetime Brands, which has promised to replace it. This is all in the interest of science. Stay tuned.
$10.62 to replace a $15 product
Moral of the story – keep your brand strong and consistent, and be alert to any potential ‘can openers’ in your organization.
And beware the dreaded barbell review.