Everyone knows the scenario: Your older, established brand starts losing market share to new competition; the public becomes more demanding, asking for bigger discounts, more allowances, and more promotions. Your first tendency is to consider the brand “mature” and at the end of its “life cycle” – it should be “harvested” and the money used to support new products. As do many marketers, you start to rationalize. “Why waste more money reviving a brand that seems to be dying?” Thus begins the self-fulfilling prophecy – the “dying” brand really does begin to die.
Marketers should look at the problem another way. Based on his experience, Joe Baumwoll, a partner at Baumwoll & Tannen Associates, makes the following points.
- Brand life cycles are a myth. Well-established brands can be kept profitable; “tired” brands can be revived.
- The return of investment from the growth of an established brand is usually greater than that produced by several new-product concepts. Introducing new product is a risky business.
- There is a definite thought process that can improve the odds of discovering new ways to revitalize old brands. For example, Listerine’s renewed growth is the result of its recent anti-plaque claims.
Baumwoll explains his theory: “It seems to me the most frequent causes of a brand’s premature death are not that the product didn’t meet a need, that its position wasn’t right or properly executed, or that a competitor mortally wounded the brand. The causes are a lack of patience and the absence of fresh, creative thinking.
“Too often a marketer tires of his advertising campaign before his customers have tired of it. Too often, the tactics of a competitor make a marketer feel pressured into responding, into abandoning the game plan and leaving the brand position to wither unsupported. Too often a program is fragmented with promotions or “temporary” interruptions that weaken and undermine a brand’s position.”