I have been wondering lately about brands, and the things people in branding and the like say about them - like what they are and how they build them. I love that don’t you? They always say “we build brands.” But do they? Anyway I had these thoughts and I have to confess that I haven’t torture tested them, so be my guest. #youjustdontgetit
I have often heard it said that people buy brands due to their emotional attachment to them. You have probably heard similar. If that is so and people buy things that aren’t much different from other things due to their emotional attachment to the brand, aren’t we (Advertising) skirting around a con game of emotional manipulation?
Reader, what brands do you buy that are discernibly different from an own label brand; be it ketchup, beans, mango chutney, bread or ice cream? Do you believe that those items you buy that are branded are qualitatively different from own label items? Or are you falling for their emotional branding?
If branding and marketing people are out there blabbing about how brands use emotional messaging in books, blogs and lectures then won’t people catch on and change their buying behaviours? A bit like once you know how an optical illusion works you don’t fall for it over and over and over again.
So, if brands are more keen today to get people emotionally engaged with their products in some way (because this is deemed the best thing to do, over say - telling people why your product is actually better than other makers for some reason or another), won’t it all end in tears?
If brands give up on being superior in some practical or tangible way, won’t own brands start to eat away at their market share? There is an article here on the recent growth of own label products and a Mintel report here. I’m sure that some of that growth is due to current recessionary pressures. But some of it is also due to the rising standard of own label products too. And so I wonder once those consumers have made a behaviour change to buy an own label product and it stacks up on taste for example, will they go back to branded items?
See I think many of today’s brands have a good story to tell, regarding why they really are better. If they stop telling those stories, be it in a charming and imaginative way, they may end up losing market share to own labels.
Added to this is the trend of own label products copying brand leaders style of product packaging. So in-store it is harder to be distinctive. 18% of Which? members said “they've deliberately bought an own-label product because it resembled a branded one...of those, 60% said they did so because the own-label was cheaper, while 59% wanted to try it to see if it was as good as the branded product.”
A Which? spokesperson said: “Own-brand products can provide good value and several have topped our tests to become Best Buys.”
The very reason for my initial wondering, was that I just bought some Waitrose own brand shower gel at the bargain price of £2 for 2. I think it is as nice if not nicer than Molton Brown’s that cost £18 a bottle. And yet I confess I wouldn’t be best pleased if I got own label shower gel as a Christmas present whereas I would be if I got the Molton Brown stuff.
It's been emotional.