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Concept of a master brand is now a paradox: D Shivakumar

Concept of a master brand is now a paradox: D Shivakumar

Author | Ankur Gaurav | Friday, Mar 28,2014 8:31 AM

Concept of a master brand is now a paradox: D Shivakumar

Brands have been resorting to the strategic step of reinventing themselves to refresh their image and stay relevant to the customers. While speaking on ‘Why do brands need to reinvent?’, D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo noted, “Because they failed to meet the promises they made. According to him, the very fundamental need for such reinvention of brands lies in the fact that consumers are constantly changing. Reinvention of a brand is required not only for ‘success’, but also for the ‘survival’ of brands.

Speaking about the close association of brands and emotions, he said, “Brands, especially successful and everlasting ones. evoke emotions and what if a brand can reinvent the emotions in order to reinvent the brand?” Shivakumar mentioned the examples of Nigella Lawson and Tiger Woods who have reinvented a self-brand by reinventing emotions.

Though it is very clear that the world of consumers is changing, Shivakumar said, “Everybody knows and says that the world of consumers is changing, but they are changing to become hybrid consumers, someone who drives in a BMW also eats at McDonald’s. There is no such fragmentation now, the target groups are not so categorically divided.” Tween is one set of such hybrid consumer who can be a 13 year old girl but talks like a 30 year old woman, they have such immense pester power on parents. The new hip aunty is no longer the auntie whom media has ridiculed so far, they are sharp and smart. Shivakumar explained the hybrid consumers only to make it clear that the consumers are changing, and so are expectations, promises and eventually their own brand’s relevance.

“Relevance can be earned by creating an impact on the society. Every brand is expected to earn its trust and to put it back in the society in which it operates. Profit is no longer the only agenda on a CMO’s table.” Citing the perfect example Shivakumar mentioned Tatanagar that is Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, a city where there is light 24/7, roads and infrastructure is of world class standards, everything maintained by Tata.

Concept of a master brand is now a paradox. Speaking about the master brands, Shivakumar said, “Had Vaseline just been a petroleum jelly in those blue jars, consumers would have forgotten about it. But the reinvention led to a Vaseline brand which has full women & men range of products.” Adding to this he said, “Nivea in 132 years of its life, spent 107 years being just a blue tin with white crème in it. In the last 25 yeas Nivea is full range of skincare products. Apple in its 38 years started with personal computers and is now what is visible to the entire world.”

Who in an organization is actually responsible for such strategic shift in any brand? Shivakumar pointed at the marketing teams of any organization, who are either security guards or architects of a brand. “They will either curb the reinvention steps thinking about safeguarding brands image or will architect the brand according to the changing environment.”

Colgate’s ready to eat meals, Harley’s cake mix and Levis’ suits are three disasters, marketers have committed while reinventing their brand. Shivakumar commented on disastrous steps taken by marketers, “Brand ego can make you think that your brand is so big that people are waiting for the next cake mix you make.”

Speaking about the new media and big data Shivakumar said,” Brands need to take part in the conversations happening between two consumers and their image might get damaged if they do not participate.”  Big data is of no use as they are but the thin lined judgments made through analytics can help the marketer innovate and reinvent.

The target audience for brands has always focused on the heavy users of a product but now with social media and its influence becoming quite evident brands must also target the early adopters even if they are not heavy users. Such crowd can strike off a conversation and influence other probable consumers. Shivakumar also stressed on the importance of partnerships in achieving a common goal. He said, “If I win then you need to lose is no more the case. Nokia, Airtel and a microfinance company partnered to sell more than a million phones within a specific territory and it was a benefit for all.”

D Shivakumar delivered the keynote address at the Pitch CMO Summit 2014 in Delhi on March 27.

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