Aston Martin Hotel?

There is no better moment than realizing your brand is strong enough to move outside of its original category into an adjacent category or even make the epic move to a “lifestyle” brand.

The NYT had a great story that addressed the move of brands such as Aston Martin into the lifestyle category. Aston has licensed its name to a line of residential apartments in Miami, speedboats and sunglasses all derived from its “art of living” experiences which built upon the brand’s storied history. The key was finding partners who were as dedicated and knowledgeable about branding as Aston.

But the fun part of the article chronicles the bad moments when brands reach for a “bridge too far” or found the wrong partner. Colgate brand frozen dinner entrees, Zippo perfume and Harley Davidson cake decorating are worth learning about. Of course being the NYT, they could not “resist” throwing in a Trump licensing angle too.

The reality is that licensees who are sophisticated trustees of the brand’s adjacent

core values usually add value. The issue is when a large company sees the dangling image of guaranteed minimum royalties without taking a deep dive into brand management issues that come from choosing the wrong partner. As the article notes, “shoddy” work can be catastrophic for a brand not only in the extension, but in its core product.

The article quotes the brand expert Larry Light “Just plopping a brand logo onto a product… is a recipe for failure. Giving somebody the logo and then hoping the execution will live up to the brand promise-that’s a very risky strategy”.

Power Stick frozen entrees? Has a whiff of success, n’est pas?

Automaticity – My Favorite Word of the Day Beats New and Improved?

How much of our time is spent thinking how to improve our company’s offerings? We update labels, fragrances, and even names of items on a regular basis. Are we wrong to obsess?

According to one of my heroes, the former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley, we are on dangerous ground.  In an intriguing Harvard Business Review article, he discusses why consumer innovations often “flame out”. His answer, based on recent advances in brain science, is that “…the mind loves automaticity more than just about anything else-certainly more than engaging in conscious consideration.”  Or in English, “Customers don’t want to spend the mental energy needed to choose between products.”

When innovating a product and brand, a progression from the past is always better than a break from the past. Poster child of how not to make this change is Instagram’s changed icon and how Facebook destroyed MySpace.  The article also has a very interesting sub section on small brands (could be us except we dominate our retail channels with two channel focused mega-brands). It’s titled, The Perverse Upside of Customer Disloyalty.  Basically, it says that the market for most product categories is large enough to support a small brand that consumers occasionally purchase when confused or not loyal to the leading brands. They try the fringe brands to which keeps them in the market, but not enough return to help them break through.

So don’t engage in automaticity and read the article!

Millennials R US

Millennials are viewed as the golden unicorn of the consumer market. Mass Media, in love with outlier stories that sell air time and “page views”, miss the most important takeaway of any serious data based analysis around millennial consumer behavior. Therefore most Millennial oriented stories (see my post last year about Millennial fragrance preferences) are with a lens focused on differentiation. But a closer look shows Millennials are acting age appropriately and many of their “unique” behaviors are really behaviors that have become the societal norm.

This video is of fantastic speech by Simon Sinek about millennials with great consumer insight. The reality is, it’s not about Millennials as much as it’s the story each of us lives as we transit this world attached to a mobile “device”. Watch, learn and laugh as you look in the mirror. And by the way a great one to watch with your children.

Dollar Shave vs Dollar General?

Last week saw two important retail events. Unilever’s purchase of Dollar Shave Club and Dollar General’s announcement that it purchased 41 former Wal-Mart stores. A billion dollar purchase for a consumer direct business is exciting and a sign of Continue reading “Dollar Shave vs Dollar General?”

Cynical Consumers and The Future of it All

Happi Magazine, the paper for the house hold chemical industry, had an article in a recent issue that talks to the future of cleaning.  Along with some forward thinking views on the intersection of home cleaning and technology, the article had some great consumer insights which clearly illustrate the tug between “doing good” for the world and cost. Continue reading “Cynical Consumers and The Future of it All”