Most of us try to keep up on the marketplace. But it is a challenge to keep up with which brands are crushing it – and which are perhaps overrated. It helps to know what insiders think. This article, “It’s A F*cking Burger”: Execs Dish About Their Favorite And Least Favorite Companies,” (Fast Company, August 14, 2017) provides that insight. Four executives anonymously offer opinions and answer some interesting questions. I found it helpful to read which companies they think get branding right, which are overrated, and the major challenges facing marketers today. The article suggests some new examples you might be able to salt into class a lecture or class discussion—particularly when covering marketing strategy planning, branding, and promotion.
Just over 10 years ago, Porsche introduced its first SUV. At the time, the Cayenne generated considerable controversy inside and outside the company. The Cayenne has been hot! By 2011 about half of all Porsches sold were Cayennes. Now Porsche purists (who still see the brand as the ultimate sports car) are up in arms again. Porsche is joining the highly competitive crossover market. Did you know crossovers now account for 20% of automobile sales?
This extended Bloomberg Businessweek article, “Porsche Builds Macan Crossover to Win Over Women” (August 7, 2014) describes the product development process for this new vehicle. The launch is not risk as failure for Macan could do damage to the carefully crafted Porsche brand. If Macan succeeds, it might open a new market for the carmaker. Porsche which believes the Macan will appeal to women — a market where Porsche currently lags (just 15% of its vehicles are sold to women). The article offers examples and discussion when you cover Product topics including brand management (perhaps along with our recent post “Managing Product Lines“), new-product development, or the product life cycle.
Seth Godin is a master of saying a lot with relatively few words. We have been pushing trust for a long time — Joe has some groundbreaking and highly cited research on trust that was published in the late 1990s. Our textbooks lace trust across several chapters – including when we cover branding. But once again, Seth makes a point clearly and concisely and in a way worth sharing with you and possibly your students in “The trust brand” (Seth’s Blog, September 7, 2013). We have also posted this at Learn the 4 Ps.
This story at NPR (print and audio version July 4, 2013) starts with a question: “Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when almost always, there’s a cheaper bottle of generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand name pills?”
I was actually surprised to see that 70% of the time consumer do buy generics – I thought that number would be lower. It might be interesting to start a discussion of this topic by asking your students how many purchase branded versus generic versions of pain relievers. Then ask them why? This article suggests that some consumers have more confidence in the branded product. While twice the price seems high, that premium might be less than pennies per pill. Is it worth that for extra confidence? What if you are giving it to your child? The decision to buy a brand is not completely irrational. You might then share data from the story that indicates that medical professionals overwhelmingly choose generics.
A next move could be to segue the discussion to marketing strategy — asking how a marketing manager for Tylenol (or Bayer or Alleve) might counter the trend toward more generic medicine? Students might point out many strategy decisions Tylenol already utilizes — ads, packaging, and product tweaks (Extra Strength, 8 Hour Muscle Aches and Pains, geltabs, etc.) — to differentiate from generic alternatives.
Finally, it might be interesting to dance around the ethics of these minor differences — and whether they actually deliver value to consumers. Or they are simply tweaks that make it more difficult for consumers to compare the branded product with a generic alternative.
There are few surprises on this list — except perhaps the value of each brand. This article provides an update on BrandZ’s ranking of the 100 most valuable global brands. The top 10 brands include Apple and Google, but also Marlboro and China Mobile. Also posted at Learn the 4 Ps.