The brands and their value

A program of commercial communication, or in other words, incorrectly and colloquially an advertising campaign, is a trip that we undertake from one place to another place more desired in the image and purchase motivation of our brand.

If we manage to make the campaign effective and reach the new place, our product is supposed to be recognised by its brand and will be more competitive than before the advertising campaign was made.  Our product will therefore be chosen by consumers more often than before, leaving the product of the competition to one side, or they will be prepared to pay more for it.

Advertising increases the perceived value of a brand as it highlights rational values (such as the fact of having more flavour) and emotional values (such as being a product from the country itself).

This can be seen in the fact that almost all categories of products that are most sold and have a better price have a better-known brand and with a better image, generally associated with continuous investment in advertising, press conferences, promotions, relational marketing, etc. I say generally because there are cases (few) in which the brand has achieved great notoriety and image without a large investment in advertising, but in which the communication has been by word-of-mouth or the massive presence of the sign in all cities, etc., such as the case of Zara or Mercadona.

They say that the origin of the “brands” lay in the need for a farmer to distinguish his animals from the neighbour’s, for the neighbour’s livestock were not as well fed and cared for as his.  He took an iron and “branded” all of his animals and managed to make his livestock sell at a higher price.

A brand is therefore something helpful, something that talks about what is good (or bad) in a product both when it is seen and named.

The experience of satisfaction or dissatisfaction when consuming a product is memorised in our minds and related to the brand.  However, sometimes, and above all in the primary sector, what “brands” a product is not its brand (understood as its label), but rather other distinguishing physical attributes such as its shape, colour, spots (as in the case of Plátano de Canarias), pack, price or place of sale, all of which are referents that serve to distinguish and locate the product we want.

Other times, the brand says nothing, neither good nor bad, and this usually happens because in a world where almost all large consumer product categories have one or several well-known brands investing quite a lot in advertising, a brand that does not do so and does not have a product that distinguishes it sufficiently, will find it difficult for the end consumers to memorise it. The consequence will be that the consumer will treat this product as a general product, without noticing its brand.  One example; try to ask a housewife how many brands of pears and yoghurt she knows.

A product that sells to the end consumer in a larger quantity and more expensively than the competition has a great added value in its brand and in the agency that has helped it to build a great ally.  But we cannot forget that the brand is not a value in itself, but rather a mere communication or support of the product’s true intrinsic differential value (its flavour, naturalness, properties, origin, etc.).

However, sometimes the brands fail in their true function of helping the consumer and everything we have said does not happen.  When this is forgotten and the perceived value of our product brand is fattened with advertising and sold more expensively (amongst other things due to the cost of advertising), particular quality is no better than that of cheaper products, the brand no longer offers any value to the consumer and has stopped fulfilling its mission. In this case, value is only offered to the producer or manufacturer and then, when this occurs, no name or distributor brands logically appear, such as “Hacendado”, high-quality products at a lower price, which is a true value for consumers.

However, this is not always true either and I say this as a consumer of distributor brands because the large companies make very large investments in innovation and product development and, at least in new developments, offer something truly different and interesting for consumers.  The distribution has to wait and copy, and this is not always possible or is not always done well.

Furthermore, a bad experience in one brand is transferred to all products that bear the same name. Likewise, these distributor brands destroy wealth when, thanks to the force of distribution, they use certain products to generate commercial traffic and offer such low prices that, as in the case of oil, they leave farmers without margin and unable to look after the land and the trees that must be preserved for forthcoming generations.

It might be possible to conclude by saying that if a large consumer product is unable to maintain a differential advantage that represents a value for the consumer, it will see its market share diminished by the distribution brands, which will act as natural regulators of the mercantile ecosystem by preventing the survival of brands that only give value to the manufacturer and nothing to the consumer.  This is something that as a consumer I find very good.

However, as human beings are very complex and their purchase motivations are not only rational, the manufacturer and their marketing and communication department have to find the paths to avoid this terrain. One might be continuous innovation, as people are curious and like to try things that are new.  Another might be to relate the brand to emotional values, because let’s not forget that value for money is not always what determines the purchase.

A brand may be chosen out of favour, because it gives confidence, because I am accustomed to it, for a change, to be distinguished or to feel that I belong to a group, amongst other emotional reasons.  We can see this by making a blind test of the different brands of cola and seeing the percentage preferences, which we will compare with those given when the consumers can see the brands, and which are sure not to coincide.