Alan Mitchell’s column on customer-centric branding (MW August 22) got me thinking. Much of what he said strikes a chord, but I’m not sure that Sainsbury’s launch of Blue Parrot is the “first ever” attempt to build a brand around the attributes of customers rather than products. What about Heinz’s Weight Watchers? Blue Parrot is a first for a retail chain maybe, but not a unique concept.
It is great that a product range focused on the consumer can be developed. The consumer should be at the centre of all marketing activity – it makes much more sense to understand who your customers are and to develop a product that fits their needs. Too often, products are developed and then applied to a consumer group.
But will Blue Parrot work? In the short term, I doubt it. Brand loyalty takes years and substantial investment to achieve. To build a successful brand, you need a product that is of a quality that customers are happy with and one that they can build an emotional attachment to. Will the consumer buy Blue Parrot baked beans above those of Heinz? I can’t see it happening yet.
What Blue Parrot demonstrates is the stance that retailers are taking, not so much against the manufacturers’ brands they carry, but against other retailers. Is Sainsbury’s developing a new brand in Blue Parrot because it feels it has stretched the core Sainsbury’s brand as far as it will go? With a lot of investment in brand-building, Blue Parrot may be a success. But this won’t happen overnight.