One of my best brand marketing moments occurred when I was working at OfficeMax. We were in the process of changing the name of our company, Boise Office Solutions, to OfficeMax, a company we had just purchased. We filmed an energetic customer leaving our store and asked her where she had just made her purchase. And she confidently stated, "Office Depot." Yup.
I started my career at Procter and Gamble, so even thinking about brand erosion is a bit of a radical idea. But as I analyze my own retail habits these days and those of the Millennials, I think it is something everyone selling stuff needs to consider.
I just bought a great toy truck for my nephew for his birthday. He loved it. I do not remember the brand. I bought it on Amazon. It was quick and easy and simple. Chalk up another great retail experience with AMAZON. I remember AMAZON.
My 23 year-old daughter got married in June. She found amazingly creative, unique, well-made items for her wedding on ETSY - stuff she would never find in a bricks and mortar store. However, if you asked her where she got her cake-topper, or place-cards or shoes - she would say, "ETSY."
Does it matter? Digital shopping has opened up a whole new world of unique, creative, products that are not branded or even associated with their original "seller." The "brand" is now the distribution platform for Amazon, Etsy, and Zappos. When I go on Pinerest, I am looking at the products and pictures. The brand, if there is one, is very secondary in my consideration of clicking through the photo to purchase.
If you create a new product, you can sell it even if it is NOT carried by Walmart. I think that is very exciting. Certainly for consumers. And inventors.
Brands will never entirely go away. But I do watch my daughter "assume" that quality is a given and has no hesitation in buying something from a seller and company that she has never heard of. A brand name used to ensure quality. A brand name used to ensure value. Quality and value are givens for anyone selling anything now. Private label used to be seen as "second rate". Not now.
As digital shopping continues to change the actual WAY we shop, we need to stay tuned to the customer experience and needs more than ever. And then, if you're Apple.....you just need to build it..... and they will come!!