Do you have what it takes to perform brand euthanasia?

As marketing and brand managers, all of us recognise that at the end of every product lifecycle comes “obsolescence”, in just the same way as death is at the end of the road for us (unless, I guess, you are a character from Twilight).

Secret Marketer

Last week, I was on holiday – staying in a lovely cottage on a remote island. While the weather was reasonably kind, we had a couple of wet days, and were somewhat relieved to find a cupboard full of jigsaw puzzles. One was entitled “1970s chocolate bars”, and we set about putting the puzzle together. Two days later, we sat back and admired our creativity and had a good discussion around how many of these brands we remember.

Nutty, Curly Wurly, Swisskit, Grand Seville, Galaxy Counters, Bar Six and Texan, yes, but my sweet tooth does not recall Laughs, Amazin’ or Rumba.

What happened to all those brands? Of the 70 or so on the puzzle, only a handful remained – Crunchie, Yorkie, Maltesers, KitKat, Twix, Mars, and one or two others.

So what kills off an iconic chocolate bar brand? Do consumers’ tastes really change to the extent that a brand will ultimately die? I am somewhat embarrassed that two brands that I worked for have both disappeared from their respective markets but in both cases they were acquired by bigger brands and it made commercial sense to gobble them up. But that is not quite the same as chocolate brands from the Seventies.

For many of us that love the excitement of a product launch – the build-up, the press release, the collateral, the internal comms, the expectation of the customer response – no matter which sector we operate in – we can forget the long nights, the last minute hiccups and the overly cautious test research results. But it takes a much braver marketer to make the decision to kill off their loved one.

It’s an emotional journey being a marketer – add “brand euthanasia” to the many skills on the CV.

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