Quality, entertainment and leisure. These are the words that come to mind when thinking about the Sun International powerhouse. The Company’s portfolio include “world class five star hotels, modern and well located casinos, and some of the world’s premier resorts” (Sun International, 2016). Their unique value proposition focuses on experiential luxury, enduring quality and incredible adventure, supported by an authentic dedication to personal service.
Klopper and North (2011:360) suggest that when customers associate certain aspects to a corporate brand, then all of their products or services will be associated with those same aspects. This statement has become the essence of the Sun International brand. Throughout the years they have been able to build a strong, reputable and renowned for quality corporate name.
The question is, how did they achieve this?
The first success factor lies in the managing of their brand portfolio. The company make use of umbrella branding for their three brand offerings:
- Sun International Hotels
- Sun International Resorts
- Sun International Casinos
These three offering complement each other and are offered in cohesion throughout various destinations. To ensure that the 3 sub-brands always meet the customers’ expectations, Sun International ensures that they always adhere to the set quality standard and level of personal service.
By doing this, customers will always experience the various offerings and destinations in the same satisfied and positive light. This means that in future, customers will trust any sub-brand that falls under the Sun International name as they know what type of quality and service can be expected.
It also allows the brand to market their various sub-brands under one name (as seen below), thereby saving on large marketing costs.
Further strategically expanding on the brand’s portfolio is their alliance with the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Miss South Africa brand (Sun International, 2016). This strong alliance contributes positively to the brand’s reputation as it is popular events with major exposure every year.
The second success contributor is Sun International’s sustainable and ethical practices. In modern day, consumers have become extremely aware of their surroundings and the way in which their purchases affect their environment (Boumphrey, 2014). Sun International have realised this and strategically made sustainability part of their business practices. They call it the “Sun Glow”.
Sun Glow focuses on four main objectives:
- Communities: Invest 1% of NPAT on CSI projects and 3% of NPAT on Enterprise development.
- Water: Reduce water across the group by 5%.
- Energy: Reduce electricity consumption by 8% per square meter.
- Waste: 35% of all waste produced will be recycled.
Authenticating these objectives is the reward of a JSE SRI Index Certificate. The certificate is given to companies who perform well in environmental, social and economic sustainability (Sun International, 2016).
By making a large effort to invest in the communities and environment, Sun International has further built their reputation. Not only do customers trust the brand to meet their entertainment needs, but they also now see the brand as meeting their emotional needs of being sustainable and supportive.
The last success contributor is employee wellness. Sun International has an employee wellness programme that give employees free access to social workers, debt councillors, financial advisors, lawyers, nurses, dieticians and biokineticists. Since they value family life, family members are also allowed to make use of this benefit.
Walsh et al. (2010) states that consumers form certain perceptions around a brand based on how their employees are treated, the quality of the brand’s products and services and the contribution they have towards society and the environment. Based on the above mentioned success factors, it is clear that Sun International is successful in meeting all three these requirements.
This is important as customers have gained a large power through word-of-mouth. By sending their opinions out to thousands on social media, the customers’ perceptions can either make or break a brand as through this they directly influence the brand’s reputation in others’ minds.
Even though Sun International has built a strong reputation, it is important that they don’t become complacent. It is vital to continue maintaining their reputation through:
- Ensuring top management involvement to show that the company is not just focused on personal gain.
- IMC to broadcast the same message throughout online media thereby building a cohesive perception.
- Dedicated employee engagement as they are the most important touch point with the customer.
- Quick response to negative press – this was already successfully executed with the Nigeria dispute.
- Continued investment in their employees, communities and sustainability.
- Continued quality service and product delivery.
Through Sun International’s effectively managed brand portfolio and success contributors of quality, care and employee wellness, the brand’s reputation shines brightly over consumers. By focusing on maintaining this reputation, Sun International can be assured of Sunny summer days ahead – perfect for entertainment and fun.
Boumphrey, S. 2014. Countries and Consumers. Available: http://www.euromonitor.com/medialibrary/PDF/Sustainability.pdf [2016, December 03].
Klopper, H.B., & North, E. 2011. Brand Management. Pearson: Cape Town
Sun International. 2016. About Sun International. Available: https://www.suninternational.com/corporate/ [2016, December 03].
Sun International. 2016. Employee Wellness Programme. Available: https://www.suninternational.com/corporate/careers/why-choose-sun-international/wellness-programme/ [2016, December 03].
Sun International. 2016. Sun Glow. Available: https://www.suninternational.com/corporate/sustainability/sustainability-strategy/ [2016, December 03].
Walsh, G., Beatty, S.E. & Shiu, E.M.K. 2009. The customer based reputation scale: replication and short form. Journal of Business Research, 62. October, pp.924-930