BRANDS FADING AWAY….WHY

January 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

On a daily basis, we see a number of brands being introduced and a even larger number getting phased out due to lack of planning, poor marketing, incorrect targeting or bad positioning strategies. Fading away of these iconic brands hurt the parent companies and create a void in the companies portfolio. Lets take a couple of examples to understand how companies and brands are affected.

Circuit City, one of the largest 60 year old electronics chain with over 567 stores laid off several thousand experienced sales personnel and replaced them with cheaper but less knowledgeable workers which in turn took a toll on the brand’s customer loyalty. Also, having to compete with the giant Wal-Mart which was the world’s largest retailer aggressively promoting its move into the electronics market with low prices led to Circuit City declaring bankruptcy last year followed by its acquisition by Systemax.

Kodak which introduced Kodachrome in 1935, the first ever commercially launched successful color film saw a tremendous decline in demand over the last 2 decades as digital photography became increasingly available and now even cheaper & simpler. Kodak not being game for keeping pace with the changing times realized that sales of Kodachrome were less than 1% of Kodak’s still picture film revenue and saw its eventual phase out.

Microsoft too quietly closed the book on Encarta last year as the free reference materials available online came to eclipse the once-popular digital encyclopaedia. Encarta, a relatively revolutionary product when it was first published on CD-ROM in 1993 contained a trove of articles, images, maps and multimedia features. Later, the same content was also made accessible online for a yearly subscription fee. But Encarta’s popularity faded throughout the last decade which saw the rise of the Web-based encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. Even though it has been criticized as inaccurate and unreliable, Wikipedia is free of charge and unlike Encarta, it even gets updated in real time.

Of the multiple publications lost last year, Gourmet Magazine was one of the hardest to swallow as introduced in 1940 it was the first US magazine on food and wine. Gourmet, which boasted of nearly 1 million subscribers fell victim to declining ad sales revenue and digital media pressures even though the Gourmet recipes still appear on Epicurious.com. Some other high-profile magazines that suffered a similar fate this year were: Portfolio, Vibe and National Geographic Adventure.

What could be the reasons for a brand fading away? (What a brand should do right?) As seen above in the examples too:

* It means something wasn’t being done right over a period of time
* It means there was a strong resistance to change
* It means lack of planning
* It means short-sightedness
* It means the brand was reactive

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