Do customers care you’ve been in business since the last century?

I was intrigued to read that the Government is pioneering an initiative to approach brands that were trading 100 years ago to get their support for a commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I next year.

Secret Marketer

There cannot be many great brands in this country that meet that criteria. The FTSE is dominated by foreign brands and many are in the tech or services space – it is unlikely there will be many that have not been gobbled up or forced out of business by some new upstart.

At the same time, I received a request from one of our more mature employees to do more to celebrate the heritage of our 78-year-old brand, such as some of the innovations we have been privy to and the great moments in our history. He is right – we have been responsible for many world firsts and the nation would certainly be a poorer place without us.

That said, do customers really care? Some of the great FMCG brands – Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Hovis and others – have run advertising for their own centenaries in recent years. But from my experience, it is little more than a hygiene factor for most customers. Yes, they want to be assured that you know what you are doing and the fact that you have been around a few years is a good sign, but do they really care that you have been in business since the last century or that someone’s great grandfather founded the business?

Indeed, to be cool and relevant in today’s age, there is much to be said for having been set up in someone’s front room. In fact (and in somewhat contradiction to the point above), the Government appears to be advocating just that – positively discriminating in its own procurements in favour of new startups over long-established businesses that have supported them for the past 50 years.

It seems that ‘track record’ is yesterday’s mantra. And talking of mantras, where in the four Ps does ‘heritage’ sit – should E Jerome McCarthy have added ‘pedigree’ or ‘patronage’ to his original defining list of the Marketing Mix?

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