It’s not survival of the fittest but of the most adaptable

In my spare time, I’m rather partial to seeing a live band in a local pub – there is something special about live music – even if it is four kids playing too loud in an establishment that used to smell so much better before the smoking ban. Anyway, one of the bands that my fiancée and I have seen a few times has announced it is breaking up – the so-called ‘difficult first album’ was just too much for them.

Secret Marketer

Which got me thinking about the relationship between brands and their customers, and the occasional sad demise of one of the former.

Brands die for many reasons, usually a drying up of demand among customers. But the end of Hummer, Woolworths, Kodak, News of the World and Pan American World Airways were more to do with the owners feeling the brand image had been tarnished; Amoco, Abbey National and TSB disappeared following takeovers, where the new stable was already full.

But what role do customers play in this? Do we have a say? Or, much like the demise of my rock band, while we are important during the heyday, we quickly get forgotten when the problems set in. Shouldn’t we have more of a say? After all, we created the brand: we answered the right questions in the pre-launch research, we bought the brand at its inception, we raved about it to our friends, so why should we lose out because the latest product manager has messed up?

OK, there are examples where the power of the consumer has won. For example, Wispa and Arctic Roll were two cases where a concerted consumer campaign convinced the owners (Cadbury and Birds Eye respectively) that their return would be a welcome and successful idea but in reality these are the exception to the rule.

Perhaps it is a good thing that some brands fall by the wayside each year, to make way for new ones. Very much like the planet’s ecosystem, we can only support so many and if Charles Darwin is anything to go by, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change”. HMV, Blockbuster and others, take note.

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