I never really noticed, well I never really thought, that I could be vulnerable and helpless to the power of our commercial society. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I buy things, simply based on the ads and/or the brand image created from the ads. But rather they have a different effect on me – they inform me of the products existence. Essentially, I believe that is the goal of some advertising campaigns, especially if the product is new and if the product is not actually needed for human survival. I remember reading an article way back in second year (in my advertising class) and it outlined how Gillette basically started it all… they created a product (the disposable razor), and marketed it as if it was the best a man could get. The goal was to replace the traditional way of shaving with this new, better way. Of course this new way was only better for Gillette, since the whole disposable razor is based around the reoccurring revenue it could generate for Gillette. And the kicker is, the razors are cheap to buy initially (but expensive to make). All the money to be made by Gillette is in the selling of new (inexpensive to produce) blades that these consumers will have to regularly purchase, to continue shaving the new, better way. This same logic applies to many products out there, especially ink jet printers. But you all know this, and it has pretty much become common sense, so how about I start writing about what I really wanted to focus on which was the brand image attached to these products. Now this brand image is the reason why you want to continue buying those razor blades. Something has been implanted into your head, telling you that you need this product and that your life will be better with it. This logic cannot be more clearly demonstrated without looking at Intel. In case you don’t know, Intel makes computer processors, the brain of all computers. Chances are you already knew that, because you may have seen the Intel ads, or you have heard the ‘pleasant’ Intel sound at the end of every computer manufactures’ ad, or have seen the Intel stickers on nearly every computer. Intel’s goal is to create an image, and to generate sell-through demand for their processors. It’s kind of like buying a car, based on the type of headlights it has. Too bad car’s don’t have ‘Acme Lites Inside’ stickers on them. And the thing is, their marketing works. People fork out an extra 300 bucks just get Intel inside. Does spending this extra money give consumers any benefit in the life? Not really… it only gives them what is associated with the image portrayed through the marketing. Intel really stretched this with their new Centrino based notebooks. They were trying to sell their processors, based on improved battery life, the physically design of notebook cases, and of course their wireless capabilities. And in reality, when you pop the marketing bubble, you can have all those features without an Intel processor (well maybe not the extended battery life, but then again.. screen, optical drive, etc.. all play a role in that number)… Anyways, all I am saying is that your life does not get any better by buying a Gillette razor or a computer with an Intel processor – You only think it does.
So basically it’s all in ‘the brand’ image, and we as ‘informed’ consumers have become accustomed to relating certain attributes to brands. This applies to any product or service, since I don’t believe any market segment has been untouched by ‘the brand’. This infiltration in our society has created resulted in people becoming very brand loyal, and I mean loyal in general. Not just to a specific brand, but rather any brand. Just think of the last time you went to a ‘Jon’s Subs’ for lunch rather than Subway or the last time you ordered pizza from a non franchise. People resist not going with established brands. People feel safe, consuming a consistent product, that lives up to certain ‘standards’. I know that no matter where I go, I can go into a Staples, and pick up some Hilroy paper, Bic pens and an HP printer, and everything will be a-ok, and if not I know Staples will be there to make me happy. This homogeneity can’t be healthy.
That’s all I have to say right now, because this topic is way to broad (there is like 8 topics up there!!). But this brand/marketing topic really interests me, so I know I will revisit it, but next time I will take a bit more of a narrow approach.