Business

Emerging trends in brand management

Sales Pitch

Wednesday, November 15, 2017



“A brand is a name with the power to influence.” Kapferer (2016)

Implicit in this definition is that branding means much more than just giving a brand name and signalling to the outside world that such a product or service has been stamped with the mark and imprint of an organisation.

It requires a corporate long-term involvement, a high level of resources and skills to become the referent. Brand management itself is much influenced by the revolution that has shaken marketing theory and practice: a shift from a mere transactional perspective to a relational perspective.

This has led theorists to ask new questions, and propose new working methods, new modes of thinking, new tools, which often claim to be substitutes for the former 'old' ones.

And with this four new trends have emerged:

1. From transaction to relationships

Traditionally marketing focused on consumer behaviour: it aimed at influencing choice. Its focus was on understanding purchase, and the choice criteria that prompted it, whether they were tangible or intangible, product-based or image-based.

Because competition is fierce, imitation rapid, and consumers sometimes seemed overwhelmed by these very tightly tailored proposals and brands, the focus of marketing has moved from conquering clients to keeping them, from brand capital to customer capital.

The new buzzwords of efficient brand management are share of requirements, shared loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM). The focus is on building lasting relationships through time, and on post-purchase activities, all of which are subsumed under the term 'relationship marketing'.

2. From purchase to satisfaction and experiential delight

Another consequence of this shift towards post-purchase phenomena is the focus on product/service satisfaction. How does what the product/ service delivers match the expectations of the consumer?How can this satisfaction be raised or improved relentlessly?

In this process the conditions of the consumption situation need to be taken into consideration. A product is always consumed in a context. The nature of this context affects the degree of satisfaction that the customer reports, through the notion of a 'rewarding experience'.

In fact, all marketers have known for a long time that food served in a pleasant atmosphere is judged to taste better than food eaten in unpleasant surroundings. The focus is therefore on how to get customers to sense, feel, think, act and relate to your company and brands.

3. Bonding through aspirational values

Beyond functional and experiential rewards, brands must now also be aspirational. It is through their intangible values that they help consumers to forge their identities, at a time when inherited identities are weaker.

The famous and elusive 'customer bonding' is based on product satisfaction, on a rewarding consumption experience (which includes the tailoring of proactive services, even for products). It cannot exist if the brand values do not fit the consumers' values.

All brands have to be somehow aspirational. Beyond materialistic and hedonistic satisfactions, they say, 'We understand each other, we share the same values, the same spirit.'

This is why it is so important to specify these nonproduct- based values. Visions and missions are the typical source of these values

4. Brand communities

In America there's the HOG: Harley Owners' Group and the MacAddict. And then across the Atlantic there's Manchester United. How many fans does the Man U football team have? One hundred thousand in Jamaica, five million in the UK, and fifty million elsewhere in the world? Who knows? Most of them will never see the team play in the flesh, but they watch real-time television showings or connect to webcasts of the team's matches on the internet.

This is a real community; thanks to it, the team can hire the most expensive players, and the income from the merchandise sold by association with the most famous players virtually covers their enormous wages and transfer fees.

THE LAST WORD

Another emerging trend is that brand managers are being asked for an investment proposal instead of an expenditure budget. And that trend will soon become a basic requirement of the profession. Be on guard, brand managers, for it is no longer business as usual.

Herman Alvaranga is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM) and president of the Caribbean School of Sales& Marketing (CSSM). For more insights on sales and marketing please go to his blog at www.cssm.edu.jm

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