The general proposition is that successful international brand marketing depends upon a full understanding of the 'Essence' of the brand, and of the 'Essence' of local cultures. In some instances the Essence of the Culture is more important. In other cases the Essence of the Brand is more important, because its symbolism appeals to similar targets across national boundaries. By 'Essence' we mean the inner core values of the brand, its strengths, weaknesses and boundaries, and how it fits, or can be made to fit, different cultures. To identify the Essences of Brands and Cultures, reliance is placed upon qualitative research in conjunction with multi-disciplinary sources: THE BRAND ESSENCE (product values, brand values, communication and competition) has been obtained by using qualitative and quantitative techniques to identify what the brand stands for, its identity, user-image, product values, social reputation. Brands have core values, images and widely recognised external signs and symbols embodied in the name, logo, packaging, slogans, and advertising. THE CULTURAL ESSENCE (values, symbolism, change) requires data about all aspects of the culture - not just consumer market research, but insights from published sources, literature, art, and everyday life. The types of original consumer research have been extended group interview sessions (ECGs), lengthy in-depth household interviews, and interviews with Informed Opinion. The paper concludes with a working model of the Essence Cycle in which the role of Essence studies is central to planning, positioning and brand mix development.
Author: Peter Cooper
Company: QRi Consulting Ltd.
September 1, 1990
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