Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Brand Failures

In preparing for a new talk, I was asked to specifically cover my thoughts on why brands are failing at such a high rate.  My first thought was that I have covered that in my talk on "Researching Research."  However, that talk is a little dated.  While still relevant, it does not cover changes that seem to have come into play during the past four to five years.  While Researching Research deals with problems in uncovering new product ideas, turning ideas into products and assessing the merits of a new product, there have been changes that have nothing to do with research techniques.  These new changes deal with how management has changed with regards to research.

When I was actively involved in brand research, we had years to bring an idea to market.  Today, it seems that management expects the process to take only months.  While I still have my P&G Product Launch model binder sitting alongside other companies' plans like Toll Gate, Stage Gate and Product Development Models, they seem to be out of date.  Management does not want to spend the time, effort and money necessary to develop an idea to its full potential to succeed in the marketplace.  The new management model appears to be "Throw it together and put it on the market.  If it fails, pull it and if it succeeds, great."  The mode is "reduce time and spending."

Another problem I recently encountered is the "Tunnel Vision" model.  That is, there is one way and only one way to do research regardless of the product category or type of brand improvement.  In a recent discussion, I suggested a "Concept & Use" test.  The client stated that they did not believe in leading the test participants.  It was a long discussion that boiled down to me asking how he would evaluate the consumer acceptance of an automatic dishwasher detergent that claimed to remove baked on food?  Consider that almost all users of automatic dishwashers will remove residual food from the utensils before putting them into the dishwasher.  To evaluate this type of product benefit involves a change in habits, so you have to tell the participant the "Reason for Being" of the brand so that they can assess the delivery of promise.  I think I made some headway in his way of thinking.  There should be options in research, depending on the objective.  It should never be this way or no way.

I have often talked about the limitations of sub-contracting or the Preferred Supplier form of contracting.  But one limitation I have not discussed is the toolbox of the supplier.  If the supplier has only one tool in their toolbox, that will be the method of choice regardless of the problem.  If your supplier is in the transportation business and they have a fleet of trucks, trucks will be the choice for distribution regardless of the fact that trains, planes, ships or mail may be the best form of distribution.  This topic reminds me of the window manufacturer's commercial where you see an overweight, cigar chomping person with a beat up old truck removing a "Roofing" sign from the truck revealing another sign that says "Windows" and saying "Today, we do windows."

You really would not expect a supplier to recommend a method they do not have in house, do you?  If you have a supplier that will recommend another supplier because of their expertise, you have an exceptional partner.  If you have a bundle of Preferred Suppliers, each with expertise in a different area, you are an exception.  For your In-Store Expert, I hope it is Sorensen Associates, the sponsor of my Views.  I really believe they are the best in the business when it comes to In-Store Research or as I like to call it, "Assessment in Context."

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company 

[Back] [Index] [Forward]