Innovation is no longer the domain of a chosen few companies and sectors. In an era of rapid technological and market change, companies of all sizes...
A shift from large to small
In an ever-evolving consumer society, old models that once provided marketers with consistent profit are beginning to wane in their effectiveness. Brand owners are reconsidering their approaches—and are right to do so. Small brands have been advantaged in many ways over big brands for a while now as share of value has been shifting from large manufacturers to small ones. As an example the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies between 2009 and 2015 have lost $18 billion in market share in favor of the other players (1). This shift is mainly defined by technology empowerment, which reduces marketing and logistic costs, and is self-perpetuated by its subsequent more direct and meaningful consumer brand relationship.
Target Marketing is dead
We were taught a straight association between a brand and a specific target is the most effective marketing strategy. Our goal used to be to define a precise message and to buy a consistent amount of media estate at a discounted rate and then to shoot at the defined target as directly as possible. The mantra of one brand=one message=one target provided the opportunity to develop consistent equity and value-add. However, a shift is underway. Our global consumer society is evolving and this old linear approach is no longer effective.
Consumer Society is changing rapidly
The global consumption society is evolving rapidly and the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies captured this evolution astutely in the industrial-dream-creative man phases (2). After the Second World War, the industrial society was on the rise, This was all about accessibility based on logistics and mass production able to increase affordability of consumer goods. The underlying marketing approach was very rational and was based upon uniformity: mass produced products marketed as just that.
Over the course of the ’80’s and ’90’s, as a global society we made a shift away from the uniformed, mass produced, industrial style marketing that was born in the wake of the Second World War and we developed an additional layer to our marketing strategy: appealing to the emotional sides of consumers.
With rapidly developing new technologies appearing in the new Millennium, we entered an era of heightened creativity and individualization—and another marketing shift occurred: the brand owner stopped being the only content generator. Now consumers were contributing to brand content as well and more personalized brand-consumer relationships arose.
From a single brand message to an articulation of messages
With this new context we can review the original linear model and consider that a brand could evolve from a single message to an articulation of messages. Brands nowadays do not only talk through many more touch points but also talk about many more things. We can see areas developing such as brand purpose, brand social responsibility as well as sponsorships and so on.
We can make a parallel for a moment with those billboards that you can sometimes find in airports where, depending on where you stand, you can see slightly different things. The billboard is always the same, and loyal to its DNA, but depending on where you stand you can get a slightly different message.
Translating this example into the brand communication area this means that a brand could have a meaning for consumer A and a slightly different one to consumer B. Technology empowers this.
If we look at the role of penetration in sustaining long term brand growth this approach would allow a brand to tap into a much broader set of consumers increasing the chance of expanding its presence and consumption.
Stay loyal to your DNA
Of course the way a brand articulates its multifaceted messaging cannot be limitless. A brand’s messaging is only as malleable as its core, overarching brand platform—its DNA. Ignoring the DNA of a brand, or straying too far to its edge, could translate into a severe loss of equity and an impact on the medium and long term performance.
Taking advantage of the possible articulation of messages so as to reach a broader set of consumers must be strategically planned and must start with a strong foundation: a deep understanding of the brand’s core DNA.
(1) Moskow, Fortune, May 2015
(2) Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies
Author: Andrea BIelli