It's so you
Peter Steidl, Graham Alvarez and Elise De Groot
JWT, Melbourne and Sydney
The authors have carried out a detailed study on the evolution of brands. In this paper, they concentrate on just one of their findings. A transition is taking place, they say; consumers spent 100 years building relationships on the basis of what the brand does
. Now, increasingly, they are building that relationship on the strength of who a brand is
. As evidence, they cite the increasing willingness of consumers to buy credit cards from supermarkets; or to buy music from a computer brand (Apple). One explanation given for this is that, quoting a Harvard strategy guru: "Today, product capabilities exceed market requirements in many categories." Innovation can be quickly copied by competitors, leading to a lack of differentiation, and thence to consumers losing interest in brands.
The consequence has been that marketers have concentrated on differentiation of positioning - what a brand stands for. The change from what to who has another implication: if a relationship of trust has been established, consumers can take a short cut in the purchasing process as they no longer feel the need to evaluate all the options.
The paper advocates using Brand Archetypes as a means of determining "who we want the consumer to see our brands as" and to inform the communication. It also proposes that market research practice must change, to focus on shared ground rather than the differences between segments. The rationale: "Traditional marketing has been exclusive - looking for differences between segments with respect to what the brand does. The emerging best practice is inclusive - looking for shared ground across segments on the basis of who the brand is."
Source: Atticus 13 (2007) - Atticus Abstract, p19