March 23, 2015
What The Brand Babblers Don't Understand
Imagine for a second that you're the brand manager for BigSave supermarkets.
Your job is to build the BigSave brand so that customers prefer you to SaveMore, and HugeSave.
You know how wonderful BigSave is. You want to spread the word. You want consumers to see inside your brand. You want them to know how responsive you are, and how pleasant you are to engage with, and how willing you are to work with them and help them.
Building the brand is absolutely essential to your career and central to your life. Once you leave the house in the morning, it is the most important thing you do.
Now let's talk about the average consumer. The average consumer couldn't give a flying shit about BigSave.
If BigSave exploded tomorrow, the average consumer wouldn't bother picking up the donuts.
The average consumer has other things on her mind. Like why she gained 2 pounds last week, and why her father is looking pale, and why the fucking computer keeps losing its WiFi signal, and why Timmy's teacher wants to see her next week, and what's that bump she noticed on her arm?
The point is this: our brands are very important to us marketers and very unimportant to most consumers. Please read that again.
Are there some brands each of us are attached to? Sure. Are there brands we buy regularly? Sure. Is our attachment to a handful of brands strong and nonsensical? Sure. The problem is we buy stuff in hundreds of categories and are strongly attached to only a few brands.
The idea that our attachment represents "love" or any of the other woolly nonsense perpetrated by brand hustlers is folly.
The clearest demonstration of the weakness of the cult of brands is the dismal performance of social media marketing. We were promised that social media would be the magic carpet on which our legions of brand advocates would go to spread the word about the marvelousness of our brands, and would free us from the terrible, wasteful expense of advertising. It has done nothing of the sort.
In fact, it is often the exact opposite. Social media is usually where people go to scream about the mistreatment we get at the hands of companies. And where companies go to beg forgiveness.
A recent study reported that among a brand’s fans, only .07% — that’s 7 in ten thousand — ever engage with the brand’s Facebook posts. On Twitter the number is even lower — 3 in ten thousand. And these are not average consumers. These are the brands so-called "fans." (This is a correction from the original post which had the number at .7%)
A study I quoted here recently by Havas claims that “in Europe and the US, people would not care if 92% of brands disappeared.”
Having a successful brand is very important to a marketer. But the idea that it is anything like that to a consumer is folly. Brand babble is just the faulty conflation of marketers' needs and consumers' interests.
Modern marketing is operating under the delusion that consumers want to interact with brands, and have relationships with brands, and brand experiences, and engage with them, and co-create with them.
Sorry, amigo. Not in this lifetime.