You can never coast on past performance?

2/10/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

James Surowiecki writes "Twilight of the Brands" in The New Yorker this week explores his view of the fragility of brands in an information-rich and an empowered-consumer marketplace: "consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos."  He makes the case for a significant erosion of brand loyalty ("Only twenty-five percent of American respondetns in a recent Ernst & Young study said that brand loyalty affected how they shopped"). Surowiecki thinks consumers are the winners; established brands are the losers -- comparison shopping is amazingly easy; upstart competitors can challenge market-dominant players.  In an off-hand comments, however, he underplays a critical point: "brands retain value where the brand association is integral to the experience of a product . . . or where they confer status." If that's true, then brands just might be more important than ever as brands need to lure the consumer to trial -- and as many brands may have minimal distinguishing features.