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.

A recent Linked In discussion referred to a study predicting that Australian Supermarkets will retail 33% of private label brands.

The article suggests that supermarkets have made 33% generics a reality when, in fact, its been manufacturers that have created this environment!

Short-term profit gouging, and/or criminally negligent marketing management, and simply ignorant brand stewardship have given supermarkets a red-carpet invitation to secure consumer loyalty and win market share.

Rudimentary ‘Marketing 101’ says consumers make buying decisions based upon value. Knowing how different segments measure or assess ‘value’ is the implication and marketing science the means.

Manufacturers would be impervious to house brands, the retail word would be devoid of true house brands, IF branded products manufactures employed comprehensive strategic marketing science.

However, house brands exist because manufacturers have chosen NOT to understand and cater better for their market segments than their retailers.

Now that Coles and WW have loyalty card data… fast, immediate, and statistically reliable, they understand their segments better than the non brand-savvy marketers that supply them.

Unless huge changes to strategic marketing take place, and manufacturers don’t make quantum changes to their strategic marketing, 33% is the tip of the iceberg, and categories will ultimately have no independent brands at all… retailers will have 100%.

Pepsi challenge #marketing, a tactic which pits No.2 and against No.1, always succeeds if used properly – but many people don’t realize how.

Many might be surprised to find that Coke’s sales INCREASE when Pepsi does a taste test challenge, The growth in Pepsi’s sales and share comes from minor brands suffering and losing market share.
What the strategy does is send a strong message “There are only two brands worth considering”, the focus of consumers’ interest ensures trial and adoption from OUTSIDE the Coke franchise as well as reinforcing brand equity of the existing franchise – a double edged sword… only soured by the knowledge that it assists your major competitor too.
Coles & WW are using it, with a price war that couldn’t have been better organized if they had colluded to do it on purpose 😉
NOW Facebook and LinkedIn have adopted this strategy in a movement that is likely to hamper growth and undermine THEIR competitors.
While short-term benefits may offer a consumer advantage, the long term development of unconquerable oligopolies offer an inevitable industry wielding too much power and to the larger populations’ disadvantage.
Great if you’re a shareholder, of senior executive on a performance bonus… not so for the masses 😦