BRANDS & De-marketing

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The key components of a brand are product (offer), name and promise. It is interesting to note that all that takes place around brands in whatever name revolves around these three components.  So, there is the offer or product, the name for reasons of identification and differentiation, and the promise, that establishes the reason(s)-why for such brand person.

Immediately the product on offer assumes a personality, it becomes responsible for all that happens as a result of its being, such as keeping appointment (timing), presence, fulfilling promises and communicating. So, when professionals say a brand is a product with a name, the objective is always to underscore the basics in the definition of the brand’s person; its all little technicalities in the world of brands and brands management that are pieced together in telling interesting stories.

Part of such story is the consumer’s experience, trade influences, price mechanism and movement, sales activation and promotion; it involves other imperatives such as research and planning, advertising, brand line extension…on and on. All these mentions must be coming as spin-offs to many of professionals at this point, but we are coasting home somewhere.

There is also this very interesting marketing tool (or should I call it instrument) known as DE-MARKETING. At the beginners’ class, we were told this is a tool used by practitioners to limit a brand’s pursuit towards achieving some aspect of set-marketing objective for bigger gains in the future. So, managers of a given brand may decide to hold back in distribution to limit market or shelf presence, for some reasons. Or, a brand may just be over-priced in such a manner that may initially be considered injurious to its market performance, for reasons considered of strategic importance to the managers. Now, when marketing decisions that are not manifestly in the immediate interest of the brand is taken, it is termed a de-marketing move. But in such moves are always expectedly made in the interest of the brand.

Otherwise, every action taken or decision made for any given brand should be towards growing the brand in the face of prevalent market situation. To do this effectively, begins with proper brand positioning statement (exclusive area for consultants). The BPS is a statement that establishes who the brand is and what it should be known and taken for. It serves as the steering wheel for its managers, towards presenting or representing such brand to the public. It is the BPS that shapes the image of the brand towards achieving its desired image.

Interestingly, the culmination of a brand’s impression at the market place and the consumers’ perception of any brand is a function of how much it aligns itself with its positioning statement in delivering on its promise. So, a brand fails as a person soon as it permits a disconnection between its performance and the promise it made. Suffice, therefore, that the success of any brand depends on the consumer’s perception. I am yet to see any brand that continues to exist at the market place when the consumers see it as not fit to continue.

However, the consumers’ power is dependent upon some factors, primary of which is the power to vote – disposable income. The primary consideration in the definition of a brand’s market is ability to pay the price for such brand. So a brand can only be influenced by those who BUY it the consumer’s influence is also dependent on socio-dependent variables to include literacy, sophistication, media habits, lifestyle, etc. when all the variables are under the consumer’s control, then we have the ideal market situation –THE BUYER’S MARKET. To a large extent, that is the situation with markets in developed and sophisticated economies; markets where the brand adheres to all the expectable.  In those markets, the brand either keeps to its promise(s) to the last detail or dies. The judgment is instantaneous.  Whereas such markets are equipped to check any form of consumer abuse, same cannot be said of the primitive ones with all their short-comings.

Consider this very sad story involving FedEx in Southern California, USA presently streaming (as at Thursday December 22, 2011, about an irresponsible employee. According to the footage captured in a surveillance camera, the FedEx driver was to deliver a customer’s parcel, which is a computer monitor. On getting to the address, the guy just carelessly tossed the monitor over the fence. That was awful in any case, but it is worse so because at the time, the recipient was not only at home, the gates to the house were wide open! Can you ever imagine that? Whatever stopped the guy from simply knocking and going in to carefully deliver the parcel, he did the unimaginable. FedEx is spending more than can be imagined to undo the damage this unfortunate development is costing the brand presently.

In a market like ours in Nigeria wouldn’t the driver and the company have been free to go?  Where would have been the surveillance camera to pick the driver? Even if the consumer complains, it would have been his/her word against the driver’s. Fed Ex has not only replaced the damaged monitor, its senior vice president Mathew Thoraton just posted an unreserved apology on the net for the driver’s misbehavior! But I still recall my experience with NIPOST speed delivery service some time in 1988/89, I sent a parcel from Sokoto to Lagos – till date, it is yet to arrive. Within the first week of their failure to deliver the parcel to the destination I made my complaint, wrote letters through Sokoto office to Lagos headquarters, without response. In fact, the most senior officer at the Sokoto office then advised I forgot about the matter because nothing will come out of it. So it turned out.

So, the efficiency of any brand is to a large extent dependent upon the extent of the market’s development and sophistication. The prevalent situation in the underdeveloped or developing markets is the reason why brands will not keep to their promises, compromise, abuse and cheat consumers without consequence.  How else would one describe a situation where sales promo based on raffle draws are never won by anybody and so much lies are told on newspaper pages of winners. Often times you find that names and addresses of publicized “winners” are not given to easy independent verification. Sometimes you see awkward combination of names from places so far away from common imagination, it discourages further questioning.

Unfortunately, consumer protection is not popular in this market, so the consumer remains at the mercy of persons ad brands that decides to abuse the system. Bad as the situation is today with the consumers, however, we like to put it before all such brands careless with delivering on their promises that they are gradually burning their candles (from both ends) , with the consumers. Indications are that the population of discerning consumers is growing, and very soon brands will be accountable for their deeds, in this market. When that happens, it will reverberate as the consequence of involuntary DE-MARKETING to all such brands that are presently taking us consumers for granted, such that will not be unto any good. It is bad enough that nobody cares for or about the consumer, irrespective of the horde of non-governmental organizations signed up for that role and even the government institutions established for same reason. Even when brands flaunt their NSO and NAFDAC numbers, it all amounts to nothing before the consumer. But to all you liar-brands, rest –assured you are compromising yourselves for the future, as you continue to abuse consumers for immediate gains.

LAST LINE:

Sadly, Aero Contractors has decided to stop struggling…another one bites the dust?

 

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