In the zenith of the years of excellence in advertising and marketing, the seller controlled the balance of power.
Taking the empirical science of “Marketing” revealed by diligent and breakthrough academic work, with open and dedicated support from industry, sellers were industrious about applying the newly discovered “Marketing Concept” – finding out what consumers wanted and delivering the combination of those wants to accurately identified market segments.
Those were the days were a segmentation study was an annual necessity, trend analysis was a routine discipline, conjoint analysis, decision tree analysis, qualitative and quantitative research were in balance and strategic marketing tools were respected and followed.
Now, in the years I consider the nadir of “Marketing”, the word “Marketing” is more often misunderstood than understood. It is rare to find someone who has conducted a segmentation study in the past seven years, and if they have. it is unlikely the research conducted can be, or is, compared to that of the past… so trends are hidden and management is uninformed.
Branding is confused with image, artwork, and name. Brand equity is not measured or considered in context, considered in brand portfolio planning (if that even exists) or future product design and planned innovation.
Consumers are left in a vacuum-like netherworld of me-too brands, and categories filled with homogenous offerings. They are thrown little to make judgement upon, with advertising drowning in the depths of weak marketing leadership from clients and vague briefs that offer no focus or direction.
Left to their own agenda, advertising agencies are forced to deliver anything they can, from gimmicks to creative excellence in advertising, which may or may not spark some level of unsustainable brand equity, only to be admonished by their clients when things ultimately go wrong.
Consumers are disarmed from having passion for their favourite brands… often helped by cost-cutting of those who should be the brand ambassadors, but fall victim to the inevitable urge to extend a brand, or worse, alter the product in such a way as to undermine it.
Abandoned by the brands they once loved, the consumer delegates their weary preferences to the household shopper, who is less involved in brand loyalty and more inclined to economic enticements.
Nowadays, caught in the vice-like grip of 50% off, or buy BOGOF, the preferred brand is dismissed as of secondary importance, and price-led brand switching, convenient shelf position, or accidental or ambivalent alternative brand selection, has become acceptable.
Responding in the most destructive of all ways, national brands who cost cut, abandon brand equity building, restrain innovation, decrease market research, and have, and continue to, lay a path to destruction: Fertilising the ground for the onset of premium house brands and private label brands that will choke the life our of the diminishing brand loyalty that marketers have allowed to proliferate over the past 20 years.
The question is, “Is this a ‘swings and roundabouts’ scenario?”
Will ‘Marketing’ skills and talent regain popularity and rebuild a world of heterogeneous and loved brands or has the era of beloved brands passed away?
I’d love to see innovative and profound marketing management rise again, mainly because I love the craft and believe the power and the responsibility that goes with it belongs solely to the seller.
It is easy to lose a fight when you are more willing give up than to employ some self defence and fighting skills.