Brand Pull Out-Muscles Brand Push
Something big has happened. Something once protractedly invested in and heavily promoted in the consumer electronics market has all but evaporated—gone quietly into the night. So big is this thundering industry change that ad agencies who garnered millions of dollars driving this once force-of-marketing-nature have great cause for alarm; many have tombstones in their eyes, and many have holes in their pockets.
There has been a slow progression of carnage among many a once mighty electronics brand in our industry, as these brands were tripped, toppled and torn by this uncanny, unyielding and unstoppable force. Ever wonder just why certain brands with once-mighty local and global market positions, mature market share, and spilling-over shelf space with vast consumer demand have receded? Why, they have lost their once-glorious and unstoppable market footing in the maverick language of consumer preference: demand and pull?
The general press smartly surmises that these companies have not kept up with engineering the freshest “lettuce” versus their competitors. Yes, this is surely part of the problem—but only part. An even bigger problem, I suggest, is a loss of footing in marketing and communication investments.
Don’t TV brands care enough
Marketing investment for many CE brands is dramatically down. Selling your brand and product story continues to be essential for market success. As example, when was the last time (outside of smartphones) that you personally viewed a TV or Internet ad to sell, market or brand TVs to consumers? Especially during sports or major drive period events. Especially during new product launches. It seems that viable consumer-motivating advertising investments have quietly stalled.
Within our CE business, nearly all TV brand competitors offer 3D, 4K, OLED, smart and curving flavors of TVs. Of course, there are several standout brands mirroring and accenting the freshest brand and product power in consumer electronics, such as Samsung and Apple. The rest, also formidable product engineers who spend billions of dollars product architecting, tooling, manufacturing, packaging and pushing for global shelf space, are losing market share, and perhaps even losing interest in our industry. Why and how can have so many billions of dollars once spent to make or take a market gain profits and grow market share receded? What has caused this dramatic change to the power of so many brands within our industry? Two words: the Internet.
The Internet and pull power
The Internet is the great brand and product divide. The Internet is “Darwin on speed.” The Internet creates success and failure at the speed of sound. The Internet is the catalyst for vast market confusion for so many companies, that they blame poor product and or salesperson performance for their sluggish results, even though they have very good products, and strong and determined salespeople. This all occurs while simultaneously, the Internet dramatically strengthens the pull power of consumers with instant access to product reviews, socially trusted recommendations, price, brand and product comparatives, and apps for a buying advantage. Brand investments in marketing and advertising push are instantly out-muscled by socially savvy consumer knowledge in the language of Internet pull. Brands must relearn and re-torque their entire communications, marketing and advertising investments to cross over to the profitable side of consumer pull. Consumers are too well-informed, too socially connected, too engaged with instant Internet gratification regarding all brands, products and prices. Everything has changed for marketers, everything has changed for brands, everything has changed through highly empowered, socially connected consumers, forever.
For established legacy CE brands, this colossal change in consumer Internet power is mind- and investment-boggling. The burnished mettle of past brand and product initiatives and performance cannot survive the torrid informational pull power of the Internet. As brand commoditization continues to rapidly evolve amongst product categories, once-established legacy brand loyalty wanes, price premiums shrink and shelf space declines.
This means the diminishing economic value of brands and marketing investments in the face of new Internet-savvy brand and product competitors who are working in congress to eliminate price premiums. This means consumers are victorious in their ability to make better, faster and more informed brand and product decisions. This also means new brands, products and marketers are capitalizing on a vast Internet pylon of consumer opportunity to achieve accelerated sales, profits and market share.
Two decades ago, the dreams for market penetration from new products and brands were suffocated by the mighty brand muscle of formidable leaders. Today, the Internet steers around the old, creates and stimulates new brand and product pull, and creates profit opportunities in ways that seem nearly magical.
The Internet is a big, socially enabled brand and product divide from old to new, stale to fresh, cold to hot. For decades, consumer buying was nearly in perfect push and pull harmony with company brand and product marketing investments. In our newly anointed Internet economy, brands are only as good as their last consumer sale. The core stimulation for your brand and products—especially your newest products—is not through traditional push advertising. Rather, your focus and investment muscle needs to be on the pull side of Internet marketing, stimulating and creating savvy social network buying armies determined to make your brand and product successful. n
Peter Weedfald is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sharp Home Electronics Company of America (SHCA). He has also served as President of Gen One Ventures, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer of Circuit City, SVP of Sales and Marketing in North America for Samsung, and SVP of global marketing and EEVP, GM & Chief Marketing Officer for ViewSonic.