We all get accustomed to the power certain brands can have on society, like the queues snaking around Apple stores when a new product is about to go on sale.
However I have found a new and unexpected ripple effect of a brand in to a completely unrelated category. I hold my hand up to accept this example may have been around for some time but I had never come across it before.
Purely on a personal, non-business, level I’ve been helping out on a property search in Wiltshire. As it isn’t a familiar area to me I have made a few recces to check out the towns and villages. What became a differentiator between competitive towns was, wait for it – Waitrose!
Marlborough, home to the famous school, has a very big Waitrose in the middle of the lovely high street, a fact every estate agent mentions when on the property search. Home owners slip in to the chit chat about original features, the Aga, etc., ”and of course we have a Waitrose” as an added benefit. The nearby towns of Hungerford and Devizes don’t get a look in due the absence of a Waitrose in their towns. Property prices reflect this, which is just incredible.
This amazing phenomenon is a genuine selling point, as though Waitrose brings upstream values to the area, almost like a middle class magnet, helping to sort out the calibre of inbound residents. And in truth there is a kind of inherent gentility about Waitrose in Marlborough. Even the Saturday boys and girls are quite posh, probably earning a bit of cash to help pay for extras at their top school.
Without wishing to sound prejudiced – but here goes – it all feels like England used to be, somehow perfectly preserved in this lovely town. Waitrose is the proof if anyone has a doubt or query.
I wonder if all of this is clever marketing by the local planners/council because I’m fairly confident you won’t find a fast food chain in the high street. So no Big Mac or Spudulike in Marlborough, just pretty local shops, with a few upmarket high street fashion brands plus all of the leading estate agent brands – Knight Frank, Savills, Hamptons.
If my suspicion has any foundation then I take my hat off to the people concerned because they deserve an award at the next Marketing Society bash. Forget Mary Portas, get in the burghers of Marlborough for advice on how to revive the high street. Offer Waitrose an incentive to open a store, add a posh school and, bingo, the empty shops will be snapped up in short order.
Having now done quite a lot of research and due diligence on property in the area it is factually accurate to claim that values within a five mile radius of Marlborough are higher on a price per square foot than similar property further afield. And almost every time you view a property, owners always mention the drive time to Waitrose!
It’s just incredible how a grocery brand can have such an influence on ‘positioning’ and the price of a house.
This post first appeared on Paul Simons’ blog paul-simons.co.uk.