You might think that being not only the largest punt operator in Cambridge, but also the largest in the world would be enough of a differentiator for Scudamores, but on the surface there is little is to distinguish one punt or indeed one punt operator from another. Punting is a must do activity for visitors to Cambridge and Scudamores have been offering self-operated punts for hire and guided tours of the college backs for over 100 years. However, they are under constant attack from smaller and sometimes less scrupulous operators.
Aggressive marketing by smaller operators on the streets of Cambridge often resulted in competitors copying marketing and promotional initiatives introduced by Scudamores and then undercutting prices to win more ‘punters’. Our task was to find ways to differentiate Scudamores that would be difficult for other operators to copy.
Brand evaluation and definition
Following some customer insight research and secret shopper activity, as well as consultation with Scudamores staff it soon became obvious that the solution was to highlight the added value that Scudamores were able to provide that other operators couldn’t and to use their relative size compared to small operators allowing them to introduce elements that would be difficult for their competitors, such as distinctive uniforms for tour guides, signage, making the punts more distinctive and offering additional touches such as branded cushions, blankets and umbrellas that tap into the traditional, quirky nature of the activity that would particularly appeal to overseas tourists.
Scudamores staff, punts and punt stations are now more clearly perceived as the ‘original and best’ operator in Cambridge. It is more difficult for rivals to copy their brand attributes and more importantly customers are willing to pay a little extra for an authentic experience making it more difficult for competitors to undercut them.