On New Products: Expand Brand Scope

As marketers assigned to a brand, we are but ambassadors of its equity. We don't "own" the brand. We are charged with molding it, so it becomes more valuable to the corporation.

Procter & Gamble has long set the standard for managing brands for growth. Recently, they changed the approach as it relates to one of their bedrocks -- Pampers.

With Pampers, P&G redefined the brand's scope from "absorption" to "baby development." This broadening of brand "scope" will become more common as P&G proves it to be a sound methodology for growth and equity enhancement.

Consumer products companies like P&G have long known that a brand's equity is the most valuable asset it owns. At one point, how these equities were defined was focused like a laser beam.

However, as brands evolve to leadership positions in the categories they compete in, companies must consider redefining the brand's focus in a broader way to provide more significant growth opportunities.

This strategy has been driven by a fundamental equation we're all familiar with -- the cost/benefit analysis. Once your brand becomes well-entrenched in its category, what's it going to cost to grow share another point? How much advertising, consumer promotion and trade spending will be required? And what will the resulting impact on profit look like?



Now take that same level of incremental spending and apply it to the development of a brand expansion initiative.

Often, the incremental spending will generate far greater profits by expanding into a new category. Additionally, this effort can enhance the brand's equity (and therefore value), insulate the brand from financial hardship should the initial category suffer an unexpected shift, and broaden the brand's awareness.

To execute this strategy successfully, these factors need to be understood and managed:

  • What is the brand's equity today? How do consumers describe the brand and in which categories would they be accepting of the name? A key element is to understand the brand's character statements -- those phrases that permeate the brand.

    A character statement for Pampers could be: "Pampers is the brand that consumers depend on," indicating that all future Pampers products must be dependable and perform the job advertising and packaging say they will. The product must substantially deliver on all character statements to maintain and contribute to its equity.

  • Which categories should be considered for expansion? This list should be exhaustive, but not absurd. For Pampers, products close to diapers are "no-brainers" for inclusion -- baby wipes and baby lotion. Some suggestions a little further out could be baby food and nutritional supplements. On the "outskirts of town" would be mental development items like mobiles for cribs and CDs.

  • How do the categories match up with consumer acceptance, company competencies, opportunities in the marketplace, and expected levels of required investment? This is the most difficult part of redefining a brand's scope because there are many factors to consider and trade-offs to identify and evaluate.

    While consumers may accept Pampers on baby food, if there's no opportunity in the marketplace to create a point of difference and create a sustainable business, then the odds of success are limited. On the other hand, if the company has access to a new technology that would result in a differentiated baby lotion, but consumers are lukewarm to the idea, what do you do? This is an instance where a business decision needs to be made, and supported by the organization.

    Consider Wal-Mart and its private label brands. Wal-Mart has only four brands (at last count), yet each competes in many categories. They do this successfully because they have identified the fundamental elements of each brand and promote them through all their respective offerings.

    If P&G is following suit, shouldn't you?

    Next Monday: Managing Expectations

    Barry Curewitz ( is managing partner and director of strategy, and Alan Sharavsky ( is partner and creative director, at Yardley, Pa.-based Whole-Brain Brand Expansion, which builds product pipelines through equity expansion and new product development. Visit their Web site at

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