Will 2014 mark the year that giant brands like Tide, Coca-Cola, Wheaties, and Cheerios start their slow spiral into irrelevance? As part of a detailed case study by Robin Lewis titled “The Death of Mega Brands,” he believes that brands that have made their name by being the biggest will fall to something that he refers to as the consumer century.
Mega brands are no longer compelling enough to win the purchase decisions for consumers nowadays, who now have more power and influence through technology than ever before. Prices are dictated outside of the coliseums in which these brands thrived and buying decisions are being made on factors that these brands can’t control. The speed of information and variety of options allows for less push marketing so loved throughout the 20th Century, in which choices were limited by what a local store wanted you to have. Barriers for entry and budgets were something that smaller firms were not able to meet, meaning that mega brands could create and maintain their “mega status.”
Brand Simplicity Goes by the Wayside
These brands were happy doing one thing well. Think about Tide. Just a few short decades ago, there was one Tide. Until the brand extensions began to clog up the marketplace. With the increasing space needed to fill stores, this brand couldn’t fall behind in shelf space to a competitor. Alas the creation of New Tide, Tide with Bleach, Tide Pods, Tide Pen and roughly 35 more Tide brand extensions.
Then came the private brands. Now in addition to the 39 brand extensions of Tide, and the vast amount of competitors from All to Woolite, there was a private brand for each. No longer was it good enough to do one thing well.
The Technological, Global, and Mobile Revolution
Now comes the part where Mega brands start really seeing the decrease. As the internet became more accessible, global markets more reachable, and supply chains more logistical; brands had the opportunity to take advantage of the efficiency that this provided. However, it also brought into the mix the development of brands that could fit a niche and distribute to the right people. A huge shift from the marketing century, it has become more than a handful of brands with a lot of product extensions.
Now, consumers are able to research prices, benefits, recommendations, and locations from their fingertips. They can see what stores are going to carry the cheapest option, or the option most directly related to their beliefs, or even the option closest to them.
Outlets, Millennials, and Changing Values
Let’s take a look away from the detergent world and move to something just as competitive, the increasing market for clothing retailers. From luxury brands to department stores, the outlet phenomenon has taken control of markets, creating in-store brand experiences that meet the different demands of younger generations.
Long gone are the demands for things that the marketing century provided, and definitions of status through brand association have changed. Millennials believe in the brand’s story versus the marketing behind the product, the experiences gained from money versus the buying of “stuff,” and the pursuit of the individualism versus that of power status.
What Does The Consumer Century Mean for Small Brands?
As the absolute dominance of big brands goes by the wayside, it is now time to develop a relationship with your audience and sow the benefits. Word of Mouth and affiliation is key, and your brand must tell a story. Lewis predicts that this will develop an “infinite number of finite brands,” and the goal of the modern branding expert is to develop conversations with consumers.
Now is the time to act, whether in your B2B or B2C branding, you need to create your relationship between your brand and your consumers. The trend has moved from “mega” to “mega focused,” and your goal as a brand is to stop trying to make the universe revolve around you, but to make your brand revolve around the consumer identity.
In this, enjoy the fact that you may never be a Tide, a Gap, or a Coach. These are the exact things that will, according to Lewis, not be competing as the Consumer Century progresses. Branding will need to adapt, and marketing alongside this brand will need to improve. Your brand is here, and will be here to stay if you stay on the cutting edge of consumer interaction. IDeas BIG offers Branding and Rebranding services to brands of many sizes.
Contact Chief Branding Officer Neil Brown to see how you can compete in this modern branding world.
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