Looking over your shoulder

Date of publication: June 15, 1992

Author: Julian Boulding


Increasing competitive pressure - notably from the Far East - threatens the European consumer durables industry. The trade are becoming more sophisticated and demand more from suppliers. Product performance and new features are no longer enough to build a long term position of strength: they are rapidly copied by competitors. Instead, European manufacturers must develop long term values for their brands which allow them to form emotional bonds with consumers; just like successful grocery brands. Marketing communications play a crucial role in this process. The author traces a history of developing techniques in f.m.c.g. marketing, and finds parallels in contemporary durables communications: from "informational" advertising, through demonstrations of product performance, FALSE steps including the use of irrelevant humour, to a "nineties" approach based on a deep understanding of the role the product and brand plays in consumers' lives. He cautions researchers against judging the success of brand communications against limited objectives; and calls for a pro-active process of "brand audits" to define the long term personality and emotive franchise of the brand, and provide a basis for assessment of individual communications.

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