Thursday, January 15, 2009

Brands vs Products

As the recession swallows up more and more of our High Street’s iconic retailers, marketers across the land must be wondering what will be left to market if the credit crunch continues its greedy gorge on the UK’s various retailers.

With a worrying casualty list that now includes such famous names as Woolworths, Zavvi, Wedgwood and Adams, competition on the British retail scene is looking increasingly dilapidated and frightfully, bleaker than the British rail network – ouch. As more and more iconic brand names fall victim to the effects of the Credit Crunch (an overused phrase that’s a much more worthy candidate for redundancy than so many of Britain’s unfortunate workers) what will marketers end up actually marketing?

The past fifty years has seen the marketing industry increasingly advertising brands as ‘lifestyle choices’ and ‘consumer identities’, reflecting a real shift from the old days of actually advertising a product – I know, what a strange concept! Brand exercises such as sponsorship, product placement, endorsement and branded events all focused on the brand ‘as brand’ as opposed to a vehicle for selling products belonging to that brand – just look back to the nineties’ marketing strategies of behemoth global corporations such as Nike and Hilfiger.

So what does 2009 have in store for brand marketing? As more brand names sink reluctantly into dreaded administration, market diversity is decreasing and the Tesco’s of this world must be rubbing their hands in glee as they pocket a few more monopoly cards.

OK, so maybe the situation isn’t quite as dire as I’m making out, however it really is food for thought – will we see a return to marketers marketing products once again? Will companies utilise marketing resource to put money in their pockets, rather than associate themselves with a particular lifestyle choice? What do you think?

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