Do you like champagne? Every year around the holidays, champagne brands are blind tested by a panel of experts, and every year, the Lidl supermarket store brand wins.
These tests have been executed in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands — and Lidl is a solid winner each time.
However, when tested when the branded bottles stood next to the glass, the Lidl store brand fails to win. Other, more famous and significantly more expensive brands win over the German store brand. This is a good example of the power of a brand.
I was reminded of this when a long-held belief was proven utterly wrong.
I have always thought network TV or TV channel brands did not matter. Surely, people are far more invested in "Game of Thrones" or "The Big Bang Theory" as a brand, and not the fact they air on HBO or CBS.
Consumers seek out programs they like. They could care less about where they see it or who delivers it, right? Wrong!
I saw research conducted by Viacom, which tested two groups of TV consumers. They were both offered a TV on-demand library to choose from and were told they could select up to five programs to watch.
One group’s program tiles were shown in just small program screen grabs, while the other had the same visual, but included the corresponding channel logo. Once they had selected their tiles, each group answered several questions.
The people who had seen the tiles with the channel logos rated their experience with the (fake) on-demand platform higher, as more trusted, and of higher quality, all through the addition of well-known channel logos.
What these two examples, from completely different categories, clearly prove is the power of a strong brand. A strong brand allows you to charge a premium. And although your product, or TV show,is not materially different, when it is associated with a strong brand, expectations are set.
Yet, most marketing and advertising activity is focused on the back end of the sales funnel — chasing a sale.
Witness most ad breaks. First, the sheer dominance of car ads in every break is baffling. Secondly, they are all focused on sign and drive, zero interest, thousands of dollars under MSRP, we’ll pay your first month blah blah.
I am not just talking about your local car dealer ads, although they repeat the exact same advertising message. Is BMW more aspirational than an Audi or Lexus? The difference between Kia’s and VW’s discounted cars? I could not tell you from their ads.
The same is true online. Amazon is now full of ads. Search any of their product categories and most rows of tiles are sponsored. All they do is show the product and price. Instagram? Clickable ads taking you to a sales option.
The majority of briefings today are focused on short-term results. The marketing strategy is focused on last-touch attribution.
The new magic words are performance marketing. While I am a big fan of chasing sales and revenues, I am worried we’re raising a generation of marketers who know how to optimize a sales funnel but not how to build or curate a strong brand.
Soon, we won’t even be able to buy Dom Perignon anymore; it will “unbrand” itself straight out of the sales funnel.