Friday, January 11, 2008

Marketing Memo: Just a Man and His Brands

Finding himself all alone in a retail store on a stormy and raining day, a writer ponders his relationship with the grocery brands all around him, on the store's shelves.

The relationship between people and grocery brands can be a complex yet simple one. The relationship can be emotional as well as psychological.

A brand can make a person feel good, but also feel bad after the fact--especially when he or she feels they paid too much for the particular branded product. Generally, brand relationships are long-term ones, and sometimes a brand-divorce is more difficult than a human one.

We all know on some level we're manipulated (not always a negative by the way) by marketers in terms of how they position and communicate their brands to us. On the other hand, there are in most cases real and substantial difference between one brand and the other. And price isn't always the differentiating aspect of such quality measures.

Some laundry detergent brands are better than others, for example. Certain brands of Mayonnaise just plain taste better than others. National brands aren't always better than store brands. Some "plain-Jane" branded food products actually taste better than those labeled "gourmet." And, on and on it goes.

Increasingly, there are other concerns regarding brands. These include a brand's green or environmental attributes, the ethical reputation of the company that markets it, and other variables. Consumers weigh all these attributes, along with price and emotional appeal the marketer creates, when choosing a particular brand.
Almost completely alone the other day in a retail store in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a storm raging outside, San Francisco Chronicle columnist and long-time newspaper and magazine writer and editor Jon Carroll, found himself daydreaming. As he walked the aisles of the near-empty store, he thought about his relationship with grocery brands. His relationship with retail stores, from the basic to the upscale. Just a man and his brands.

Carroll, who's been around the media business for decades and knows the influence of marketing and advertising, writes in his Tuesday, January 8 Chronicle column about His brands, and the relationship he has with them.

Carroll''s is not a marketing column. Rather, it's a first-person column. But, as so often is the case, sometimes the best marketing insights (as well as thought-provoking ideas) come not from marketing-oriented pieces, but rather from first-person narrative ones.

We enjoyed reading Carroll's column, and think it offers much food for thought--along with a chuckle or two--and wanted to share it with our readers. We read it while it was raining hard outside the other day--and somehow we think we enjoyed it even more that way. We hope you enjoy it--and glean a little human insight from his thoughts, like we did.

Read Jon Carroll's Column here.
(Cartoon: courtesy CartoonStock.)

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