Once there were brands…

There was an article some time back in The Economist, which spoke on the phenomenon of Brands losing their significance world-wide. A Survey across 23 countries showed that majority of respondents would not care if 73% of the brands mentioned would just have disappeared. This number was 92% in the more mature western markets. The neo-rich and new-to-marketing Asian markets revered brands slightly more, but were moving fast towards the western patterns.

The Internet and the ease of comparing products there is one of the single-largest reason for this impending doom of conventional branding. 46% of young American consumers born in the 2000s compare prices and online comments on their phones while shopping in a brick-n-mortar shop!

The article mentioned that Companies, marketers and advertising professionals are fighting out the above battle through 5 routes :

  • By acknowledging the scepticism of consumers in the ads themselves – “what if these things were really free ?”
  • By suppressing the scepticism with humour – using chirpy talking animals
  • By disarming consumers with honesty – seems Dominos campaign talked about their awful pizzas of the past 50 years and how things have changed now
  • By aligning with some social cause (HDFC’s Cancer Fund), and finally
  • By what they call the Holy Grail – befriending the consumers.

For making friends with the consumers, haughty-mighty sounding brand names are giving way to jollier ones. Fidelity, Bank of America have given way to Giffgaff and Ally. Close home, in earlier times in India, one had to communicate authority and reliability by using names like  like State Bank of India, Unit Trust of India, Reliance. Now we have Myntra, Zynga and Jabong. And even in the non-online world – Pantaloons and even Yes Bank!!

Making friends is of course happening in the biggest way on social media – companies are conversing with consumers and prospects on Facebook and Twitter. Very quickly, companies are realising that their brand communication has to be AUTHENTICALLY tied up end-to-end with their business vision, strategy, execution (product quality and customer service). Otherwise, they get busted sooner or later.

It will be interesting to see if brands in India follow the descending trajectory of the western brands, or will all the brands collectively be able to fight back and end up increasing their salience with consumers !!

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