Mass market brands are dead, if you can believe a range of new surveys that say the new generation's faith in "old" classic brands is vanishing rapidly.
A recent Forrester survey concludes that some of the best known brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi and Levi's are steadily losing marketshare to new upcoming brands on the Internet. Teenagers prefer sites like Kasparov vs. The World, Quokka and Bolt.
What does this mean for the future of brands? Is the basic Procter & Gamble philosophy of one-brand-per-million consumers slowly dying?
The days when a brand speaks with one voice to many consumers simultaneously are over. All trends indicate that the future direction of brands will be toward multi-dimensional brands communicating multi-dimensional messages to a multi-dimensional audience.
Some people might argue that this is impossible. How can one brand mean different things to different people without mixing up the messages and resulting in total brand confusion? It can happen, and it already has.
Over the past ten years, Coca Cola has meant "everyday life" for most consumers in the western world; whereas in eastern Europe, exactly the same product has meant "freedom."
This diversity can be explained in terms of the different availability of communication channels within individual countries and particular media regulations.
With the arrival of the Internet, brand building has become much more complex than ever before, and it demands greater control.
Think of that control as a brand playground. You indicate the area in which your kids are allowed to play. They might have access to the swings, the see-saw and the monkey bars but not the nearby street, the underground, or the local bar. Each kid is allowed to choose whatever activity he/she wants within the indicated play area.
If you asked them at the end of the day what their perceptions about the day were, there would be just as many perceptions as there are kids.
But one thing is certain. Whatever control was imposed, all kids would have loved their day at the playground, provided enough activities were available.
The focal point of brand differentiation in the future will no longer be the look of the label, the taste, or the commercials. It will be the consumer's experience.
The Internet consumer will create the brand.
This might not be a very strong point of differentiation over the short term, but over the longer term this will be reflected in loyalty to a personal brand created by each individual.
There is no stronger way of differentiating a brand than by letting a consumer create the point of difference.
You might think that in the past we saw outrageous examples of people with strong loyalty to certain brands. That was just the beginning.
Right now, consumers are creating life-time relationships with their very own brands...and loving it.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Martin Lindstrom is recognized as one of the world's primary on- and offline branding gurus by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is the author of several best-selling branding books including his latest, "BRAND sense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound," published by Free Press. BRANDsense.com details information about Lindstrom's "BRAND sense" and the BRAND sense Symposium, a branding conference running in 51 cities in 31 countries.
March 19, 2014