What Challenges Brands face every day?
Brands are fighters in the market. They fight for their Position and for their Market Share. They operate in a market place that is not just volatile but aggressive too, in every possible way. The question to ponder for us is, why does that happens?
Most marketers think that once a brand is launched and placed in the market they should automatically find some buyers. But in reality such expectations get seldom converted into reality and buyers are far and few in-between. A great no of marketers or should I say product sellers (?) possibly assume that the market in India for most products are large and they constitute of those who are dissatisfied with their current product/brand usages. While that may be a good assumption to make but that may not be true in reality in most cases. Brands are a habit and an attitude and the existing brands would have fought hard to build their own relationships with their current users.
So what would make the consumers look at or consider switching to new brands or products when they are comfortably settled with their existing ones? Would it be a new added feature (Colour Pixels for a TV) or an enhanced feature (Net accessibility for a Mobile phone)? Would it be the durability of a washing machine or the surround sound effect of an audio system.
The point is brands are finding it more and more difficult to exist despite that fact that no of buyers are increasing or multiple shopping options are available from shopping malls to e-commerce. What is also important to note that with changing shopping behaviour are the buyers changing too? Buyers are not the same when researches are carried out. With every new option attitudes are changing and with more options available buyers are getting more discerning too.
Failure of new brands are increasing by the day
We in marketing find more and more unsuccessful brands in the market that ever before. To examine the key reasons one comes across a few points:
1. Lack of Research – of the competitive environment and the evolving market
2. Lack of Consumer Insights – of how the Consumer has changed over the years
3. Lack of meaningful Brand Positioning – spaces that brand can own
4. Lack of Creative brilliance
5. Lack of understanding of how ‘Celebrity’ endorsements should be implemented for a brand
Most brand managers are afflicted with this strange habit of finding the convenient or the most predictable way out. Most tend to copy or even duplicate the leading brands which are successful in the category. They are reluctant to build their own brand story and live under the assumption that most buyers would buy their product if they offer the same features of the leader brand at a lesser price. This carries on as a trial and error basis till one day it explodes on their face. What is critical here is to learn and develop Product or Brand differentiation/s and not pick up differentiations from others.
Most managers complain stating ‘lack of budgets’ for research, ‘lack of time’ to understand the Consumer lifestyle and ‘lack of good agency support’ that would guide his brand’s effort to succeed. Most Brand Managers worry about meeting ‘launch’ deadlines and ‘keeping the bottom-lines’. Or about achieving ‘break-evens’ and show a ‘better ROI’. That is understandable as they are running against time. But the key is to think long-term if brands are to be built.
Research – is it all about hiring a market investigation agency and waiting to hear some marketing gospels? Not really. Market feedback and trend-spotting happens with continuous probing and keeping a keen ear to the ground. There are brands which are very agile and they undertake continuous research and keep gathering intelligence but unfortunately they are more skewed towards sales and numbers. While it is important to do the number crunching regarding the market it is also important to connect with new users. Find new trends or understand the changing habits. What about those who don’t buy the brand and their motivations. It must be a continuous and in-depth study. It is the understanding of the complex matrix of feelings and emotions and that makes a brand tick.
Consumers – are they a face-less set of numbers or those in the social media where they are either ‘following’ or ‘trolling’. Consumers are human beings like anyone else is. They come with their own aspirations, attitudes, ambitions, ahankaars (egos), aadats (habits) etc. They have their own set beliefs, loves, desires and reasons that compels them to behave in a particular manner or walk along a particular path, follow a message or understand a brand benefit. Humans don’t come alone as they are part of a society, family, nation, faith, religion, sex, mannerisms. As they have beliefs they also have a set of disbeliefs, a set of fears and a set of uncertainties. Consumers comprise of a lot of conflicting emotions, pulls and pushes of compulsions and situations where they don’t have any control. Brands have to survive all that and yet market itself.
Positioning – is it a peculiar word or a thoughtful thought. Positions are places which determine where each thing is. The Earth is one place (or is it?), the Sun in another, Planets, Moons – all have their positions. Marketers say brands have positions too in human minds. But the question is how do brands make or seek positions when consumers are already conflicted with numerous messages, emotions and compulsions. When consumers are slaves of dead habits or seduced by attractive prices or offers which they consider better options in a biased sense altogether, a brand has to create its own particular appeal. That appeal must be thought provoking and immensely tempting for a consumer to succumb to.
Creativity – is never a lost technique in creating unique brand stories. Neither is Creativity a manner of writing smart lines that becomes boring in the next exposure. Creativity is Big Idea. An idea that can sell a country, a community, a political party to even an underwear. Stating ‘health’ is no more creativity but stating how health is the new expression of love is possibly one. Stating ‘premium’ is no creativity but how premium makes your life glorious is one. So creativity even needs new expressions and the challenge remains how brands can make lives creative too. Look at Apple.
Endorsement – is the best way to run a hundred meter sprint in a marketing race. But most brands don’t have it in them to convert their brand ambassadors to a Usain Bolt. For a brand to become Jamaica in the world of sprinters it’s critical to spend in building a culture of running and the endorsement must come in the form of building the eco-system that built Bolt and Jamaica’s dream team of sprinters.