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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So a Brand is Growing, what Next ?

The concept of the product life cycle can also be applied to individual brands themselves and just like the products brands themselves also make the move on from the launch phase to the growth stage of their respective cycles. The growth stage for a brand implies that it has started receiving mostly positive widespread public appeal and the brand along with its respective product is generating sales and profitability for the organization or the entrepreneurs behind it.
The widespread belief amongst most marketing practitioners and brand managers is that most organizations should adopt a cautious and calculated approach with their regards to the marketing activities that they have planned for the brand. Be it branding, public relations or integrated marketing communications, most experts recommend playing it safe especially during the early days of the brand’s growth. This is particularly relevant for brands and products that are new to the market or have just started achieving some sort of prominent growth with respect to sales and market share. In other words, they have started catching up with the competition, indicating that there is a reasonable level of brand awareness now which is triggering response from the market.
The argument given by most experts is that new and emerging brands are not able to command the same pulling power towards their products and services as that by their more established competitors. Before brands are comfortably able to take a proactive approach to their branding, marketing and public relations activities, they are required to develop their brand equity. By doing that, the brand, the product as well as the company behind it is establishing a sort of a relationship of mutual trust with their customers. Developing customer trust is an ongoing exercise, as trust needs to be maintained and fostered over the years to take the brand to the place, where it becomes a brand of choice for its desired audience. This is where emerging brands should understand the difference between and their competitors and focus on a combination of push and pull marketing strategies as opposed to being overly reliant on the pull of their products. Depending on the company’s or entrepreneur’s brand specific marketing strategy, there might be some room for flexibility and proactive measures in branding, public relations and integrated marketing communication activities can be implemented. The most effective of which would be a pro active public relations campaign, which many emerging and established brands are able to execute successfully by engaging their relevant audiences. Many brands, both emerging and established have become success stories through public relations initiatives which have contributed a great deal towards their brand equity. However a poorly executed strategy can really erode the brand value and can result in a premature decline of the brand. What companies should not forget is the importance of segmentation, targeting and positioning depending on what their brand offers. A particular brand or many brands of the some company will not appeal to each and every demographic or consumer out there in the market.
Some might argue that we must follow the market leader and its example; however brands that are already well established and have been around in the market for sometime are excluded from this approach as the markets response to newer brands or new market entrants differs from its response towards established brands and products. Established brands have strong brand equity and a positive perceived image as a result of which they sell themselves with relatively lesser effort.
Regardless of what experts might argue about emerging brands or those that are already well established, there are no hard and fast rules to branding and marketing activities and it is dependent on other variables as well. What needs to be considered are the nature of the product behind the brand as well as the nature of the market. Most markets and economies today are very consumer oriented and as a result of which most consumers have an abundant variety of choices, especially with regards to consumer goods. With the advent of private label brands, a trend now widespread globally, consumers today are truly spoiled for choices and the cost of switching brands and products has been driven down significantly. It is important that consideration be given to the socio-economic climate where the brand and its product or service offering is being made. The purchasing power of consumers in that market place will play a role in determining the success of the brand particularly if it is not a necessity and a luxury good. For example in developing economies, mid level consumer income might be significantly lower to mid income level consumers in the developed world, and what might be seen as everyday goods in a developed economy might be seen as lavish luxury goods.

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