Howard Fox interviews Ken Preston, Publisher of Brands and Branding regarding the Brand Museum exhibition at GIBS Brand-Week.
If you have enough money, there is virtually nothing you cannot buy. The value of possessing some physical goods, I would contend however, is now reducing in some instances to only slightly above the value of the commoditised functionality the goods provide.
There was once a time, not that long ago, that arriving at your favourite purveyor of fine burritos late at night in a Ferrari, differentiated oneself as being in the economic elite. Certainly put you in the ‘1%’. And such differentiation was worth a premium. You remember – for the brand – all those attributes carefully crafted by us marketers.
No more. Could be that you have deadmau5 (a DJ of some not inconsequential repute), as your Uber driver, in his Ferrari.
No need to buy the Ferrari yourself, to impress, then.
Want to really impress your neighbours in the Hamptons NY? Catch a helicopter using the latest flight sharing scheme: “We want to make it approachable and easy and transparent for young people who think only billionaires fly planes,” Evan Licht, general manager at “Blade” an app that facilitates booking helicopter trips from Manhattan to the Hamptons for just $450 a ride, reportedly told The New York Post. That is far less than the usual $3 000 beating the traffic to your Hamptons holiday-home normally costs, and is infinitely cheaper than watering and stabling your own helicopter in New York City.
Diamonds are forever. At least de Beers hopes so. But what if previously exclusive, extraordinarily expensive, diamond necklaces became accessible to the masses? http://hautevault.com – “The savvy approach to luxury, rent.” Or Adorn.com – “The look worthy of a princess – rent the Middleton earrings for only $160”. Accessible luxury means such “luxury” becomes far less differentiating for the limited few who truly can afford to own it outright.
The ideal type of luxury goods, such as top branded champagne, designer handbags, jewellery and luxury cars, are what are known to economists as ‘Veblen goods’, named after economist Thorstein Veblen, who famously identified the concepts of conspicuous consumption and status-seeking. Veblen goods are the holy grail of luxury brands because their desirability increases with an increased in price. In effect they are desirable because they are only accessible to those prepared to pay a high price. Conversely, decreasing their price (even through sharing apps or rental arrangements I contend) decreases peoples’ preference for buying them because they are no longer perceived as exclusive or high-status products.
What does this new-age, increased product-accessibility mean for brand owners? Consumer access to brands used to mean having to buy the actual associated physical good (excluding services and intangibles, obviously). Now that is no longer a requirement, and it doesn’t take much of an increase in accessibility to significantly reduce the exclusivity and thus differentiation of such branded goods. This could be crippling for luxury brand owners. More troubling is that brand owners lose control of their brands to others (e.g. such as the Blade app) who leverage the value of the brand to their own benefit, while reducing the brand’s exclusivity and brand premium to all other purchasers – to the clear determent of the actual brand owner.
I foresee brand owners resisting the sharing and rental of their branded goods to protect brand exclusivity. Lawyers, start your engines.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report places Internet of Things at the pinnacle of their well known “Hype Cycle”.
Personally I am a bit surprised. Sure I have seen the vigorous drum-beating by Cisco, and everyone is quoting that $14 billion value of the IoT espoused by Cisco / “multi trillion” valuation by PwC (by 2020), but down here at the tip of Africa, “Big Data” still seems to hold sway by a sizeable margin.
That said, Marketers across the world appear to remain underwhelmed by the real opportunities and threats the IoT offers. I suspect, just like the development of “digital marketing” was effectively driven by technology suppliers and internet startups rather than professional marketers and their service providers – the IoT will again face at best a reticent marketing community, at worse a recalcitrant one.
WAKE UP MARKETERS!
Press release on Hype Cycle here.
Gartner’s [Free] Hype Cycle Special Report for 2014 here.
PwC report: Sensing the future of the Internet of Things here.
Based on a talk by Alan Hilburg, internationally acclaimed reputation management expert.
Speaking at a recent GIBS forum, Alan Hilburg, president and CEO of Hilburg Associates, discussed the relationship between brands, trust and crisis and common mistakes many CEOs make in times of crisis.
Alan’s career includes guiding six of the top 30 branding campaigns of the 20th century including Johnson and Johnson’s Tylenol brand recovery. Known for his senior perspectives and judgment, The Los Angeles Times wrote that Hilburg is “a first call for those who find themselves in difficult high-risk crises.” The Wall Street Journal called him the “earliest practitioner of reputation management in litigation contexts” and he was identified by the London Times as a “leading corporate brand architect.”
According to Alan, crisis management is not just about the crisis, reputation management or PR – it is first and foremost about business continuity, protecting the brand and trust. These three vital elements should be the foundation on which all thinking, planning and business strategy is based.
But how can we define and establish trust? “Reputation is not trust”, says Alan. “Trust is about building long-term relationships, and a good starting point for this is for a company is to stand behind great values. Companies should ask themselves what their values are and how they communicate, live and most importantly, make decisions based on those values.”
Once a company can create solutions that enhance their competitiveness while simultaneously advancing social and economic conditions, they are able to form shared values. These shared values are an underlying driver to help create connections between a company and its community. “A community refers to those who are important to us, those whose behaviours we want to align with our interests and those whose trust we want to earn” says Alan. “When you engage with your community you speak to emotional drivers rather than rational ones, this is important as trust is an emotional thing.”
According to Alan, a brand fundamentally behaves like a guarantee and thus needs to provide real-time transparency, something Alan believes is a key element to avoiding a scenario of broken promises. A lack of transparency can easily contaminate a brand in times of crisis as it will bring trust to an all-time low. Mistrust and distrust also have costly ramifications and Alan refers the high cost of low trust as ‘trust tax’, whereas when trust is high, a ‘trust dividend’ is established.
What is also significant to note is that while a crises plan protects you brand and reputation, crises are more about the victims. It’s what Alan refers to as an “outside- in” instead of “inside-out” viewpoint. We’ve seen cardinal mistakes being made time and time again, most recently in the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico when CEO Tony Howard famously proclaimed, “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”
Alan believes that communication in times of crisis is not about press releases or statements; it is about getting people to listen. “That’s important in every relationship” says Alan “and if you get people to listen and you have the values and the experience that builds relationships of trust.” Alan has worked on over 250 crises around the world, and notes they all have three ingredients – one is mistrust, one is disengagement, and one is flawed decision making.
“Nothing good happens without trust. It is often one of the most overlooked concepts in crisis management yet it can change everything. Why? Because it’s the only thing that means everything.” Alan Hilburg
Article written by Clea Dias of the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Mr Guarav Bhalla presented at The Gordon Institute of Business Science in February 2014.
[Write – up of talk by Gaurav Bhalla author of Harvard Business Review article “Rethinking Marketing”]
“Winning customers’ hearts by creating and delivering compelling customer value is the single most effective strategy for acquiring and retaining customers and growing earnings; something that Peter Drucker said should be the fundamental goal of any business. It is also, hands down, the best investment a company can make in its own future growth and success.”
This is according to Gaurav Bhalla, author of the Harvard Business Review article “Rethinking Marketing”, as he discussed how companies must radically reorganise to put cultivating relationships ahead of building brands at a GIBS forum on Tuesday, 11 February 2014.
Gaurav aims to show companies how to win customers’ hearts by excelling at customer value creation. In his discussion he highlighted the importance of encouraging companies to adopt a disciplined process to innovate continuously, by identifying the obstacles that prevent innovation from flowing freely, and by keeping the company focused on continuous customer value creation that results in new value for the customer and in sustainable profitability.
Placing strategic bets
“Value is not constant”, says Gaurav. “It declines over time as ‘value black holes develop’ and the only way to avoid this is to invest in innovation.” Many elements contribute to making a company innovative and to making innovation programmes successful. However, it is also important to realise that not all innovative ideas will land success and marketers often find themselves in a game of placing strategic bets on innovations that are probabilistic, but not guaranteed. These strategic bets are vital to any enterprise as when they are successful they increase value, which in turn leads to more customers and essentially, business growth.
Balance the voice of the customer with the voice of the company
Gaurav believes that marketing should be an organisation-wide obsession, with every individual in the company nurturing customers by listening and responding to their needs. This should result in a shift in mindset, to marketing as a service with marketers existing to serve the customers and not merely to sell products and services. Many companies face the complex dilemma of balancing the voice of the customer with the voice of the company– this is a very delicate dance but getting it right differentiates a customer-centric company from a product-centric one.
Reimagining the marketing department
According to Gaurav, the CMO’s job has not changed – every company needs to give the world a reason to do business with them. However, the marketing department must be reinvented as the “customer department” that replaces the CMO with the ‘chief customer officer’. This change shifts the firms focus from product profitability to customer profitability. “Although this is becoming increasingly common in many companies today, it remains a poorly defined role” says Gaurav.
To end off Gaurav referenced a quote from Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, “Putting the customer first should not just be a slogan; it should be the thing every successful enterprise should live by every day.”
This article written by Clea Dias of The Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Marketers the world over chuckled at Sodastream tweaking the (Coke’s) Tiger’s tail. Now let’s sit back and watch the fight.
I know who my money is on.
See link to full time article below:
Link to Time Magazine article here.