Coronavirus: good or bad for Corona’s sales?
It’s a venal question given the current state of the pandemic and the tragic loss of life that has occurred, and will occur in the months to come. But it is, none the less, a fascinating one for marketers. Where do you stand?
Your answer very much depends on how you balance the importance of a brand’s salience versus its image. The traditional brand management approach of not that long ago led with image as the overriding driving force behind successful brand impact.
Consumers needed to know a brand existed via awareness, of course. But that was mostly a gateway, particularly in high-involvement decision making, to the associations that consumers then attached to the brand. Those associations then drove differentiation, desire, loyalty and the host of other behavioural lovelies that came with a strong brand.
Then – cue the ‘Imperial March’ music from Star Wars – came the Ehrenberg Bass institute in their black uniforms. Differentiation, particularly at the symbolic level, was overstated. Any evidence that people perceived Brand A as vastly different from Brand B could be largely explained by its size and prior purchase experiences. Purchase caused brand image, not vice versa. Ergo building a brand image was waste of marketing effort.
The big job of brand was to create salience, so a brand came to mind in buying situations. The more salience the better.