With some notable exceptions, mostly in the luxury sector, brands in general are under attack as never before. The equities which have been built up over a number of years as a result of sustained, heavyweight investment are slowly but surely being eroded by non-brands who have chosen price (in particular) as their weapon of choice in the ongoing sales war.
FMCG brands have tended to suffer more than most, with so much of the focus these days on value propositions. The inevitable trading on price and prevalence of BOGOFs, while great for volume, do absolutely nothing for the brand. The rise and continued rise of ‘own label’ coupled with the increasingly sterile ‘clean store’ policy environment of the major mults has meant that achieving any degree of stand out has become increasingly difficult from a brand perspective.
If you don’t believe me then take a wander down the sauces and gravy aisle of any major multiple grocer, pick up a drum of Bisto gravy granules and invariably you’ll see merchandised next to it a host of me too look-alikes, all clothed in a close approximation of the brand leaders packaging garb.
The rise in the popularity of partnership marketing initiatives is an inevitable consequence of this and allows brands to harness collective strengths. This effective ‘circling of the wagons’ can lead to some unusual alliances being formed – perhaps even ones which, in the normal scheme of things, might never see the light of day – but they can be highly effective when properly deployed.
Of course, protectionism isn’t the only driving force behind prospective partnership activity and many strong, healthy brand owners seek to enter into partnership from a position of relative (or even absolute) dominance in the marketplace and are simply looking to extend into new customer segments – take the work that our music division Revolver did recently for Marshall Amplification and Smokehead whisky, a marriage made in heaven (or hell if your name’s Ozzy) linking one of the biggest names in live music with a whisky aimed squarely at younger men…and not a hint of tartan or heather in sight.
Martin Barratt, Director at Bullet Marketing (& occasional average guitarist)