Short-Term Brands Revolutionize Branding
Dan Herman, Ph.D.
The full e-booklet available for free - download here (316KB).
In recent years, consumers exhibit an unprecedented readiness to try new brands and a preference for brand-variety over brand-loyalty (even loyalty to a consistent repertoire of brands), resulting in damage to brand survivability. To cope, marketers now need a supplemental tool to that of the familiar Long-Term Brand (LTB): the methodical creation and management of profitable Short-Term Brands (STB). In this short article, I will clarify the need for STB, I shall define and describe the concept and finally, refer you to the free downloadable e-booklet for guidelines for managing STB.
Common brand theory maintains that we build brands for the long-term and that Brand Equity results mainly, both directly and indirectly, from customer loyalty. Unfortunately, it seems that consumer loyalty is a disappearing phenomenon. Several explanations have already been offered in an attempt to understand it. These explanations usually emphasize the behavior of marketers and its consequences. Although these explanations are valuable and call attention to valid factors, I am about to add another complementary factor: The fundamental change in consumers' preferences and behavior. Consumer loyalty is weakening, because consumers constantly move on to new products and brands. This is evidenced by the rapid diffusion of new products and brands. Ironically, as a result, marketers often experience nowadays a delusory ease in launching new brands.
This change characteristic to Western opulent societies, have deep roots in Cultural, Psychological and Social processes of change that occurred during the 20th century. Our consumer is a person swept by an intoxicating abundance of options. A new basic motivation is leading this person: the ambition to exhaust as many possibilities as he/she can and The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO).
Once we understand the contemporary consumer and the reality of his life, it is easy to identify the limitations of the present brand theory. The common theory of brands does not yet provide a comprehensive enough solution to address the new behavior of consumers. Therefore, brand theory is in need of a rather radical revision.
Many marketers have begun to introduce brands anticipating that their life expectancy be limited. Changes in management of such brands are intuitive, lacking an organizing term and a Short-Term Brands methodology. In children's entertainment, for example, characters such as Lilo and Stitch now succeed for one or two seasons in contrast to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in the past. In fragrances, most brands are now expected to succeed for 2 - 3 seasons, unlike Channel 5 and Poison. In cars, brands such as Clio are supposed to succeed for 5-10 years in contrast to Ford Fiesta or Renault 5. Other categories include clothing (safari suits), food (frozen yogurt); toiletries and cosmetics (Gillette Sensor, Yves Saint Laurent's seasonal 'looks'); diets (Slim-Fast); toys (Tamaguchi, Furby); entertainment (Pocahontas); music (Disco); vacation destinations (Palma De-Majorca); exercise (Ski Machines); technology (Windows Me); cars (Fiat Punto, Chevrolet Corsica, BMW Z3, ...); drugs (Prozac); management theories (TQM); and there are many more. You may recall that in all of these categories, consumers behaved more consistently ('brand loyalty') in previous generations. Even many of the start-up companies we have witnessed during the high-tech boom of the late 1990s, (some of which invested heavily in branding efforts) were designed for the short-term and intended to be bought by large corporations and eventually merged into them.
I believe it is time to consider the professional and purposeful creation of Short-Term Brands (STB). Strategy can be STB-based but it is also possible to use STB in tandem with LTB (in brand architectures which I shall present later on). Even if Short-Term Brands were conceived under duress, they are a new and much needed tool for marketers, because they offer today's consumers benefits that Long-Term Brands are incapable of providing, particularly Psychological and Social benefits. While Long-Term Brands fulfill the need of stability, continuity and security, Short-Term Brands, fulfill the need for renewal and of sensual, emotional and intellectual stimulation.
STB Constitute a Possible New Path to Customer Loyalty. It may be that the way to retain today's consumers driven by the fear of missing out on (FoMO), in many product and service categories, is to adopt a strategy of winning their heart anew repeatedly by surprising them, exciting and delighting them. A successiveness of new STB that they might miss out on (combined with LTB) is a viable strategy for keeping the customers' enthusiasm and attraction fresh.
During my years of work with the concept of STB I have gathered a rather large knowledge base. I started with learning from the accumulated experience of marketing products and services in fields characterized by brands having limited life expectancy: fashion, movies, children's games, etc. To that, I added observations and generalizations made from studying cases of dozens of short lived but indisputable successes of brands in other categories. Later, I moved on to working with companies developing STB in various fields. This work has given me an invaluable opportunity to sharpen my conceptualization of STB, gain more insights and continually perfect my method. I would like to share some of these with you. In the e-booklet 'Think Short! Short-Term Brands Revolutionize Branding' available for free download from this site, I set about formulating some basic principles, guidelines and practical suggestions that might be useful for developing and managing STB.
Dan Herman, PhD, is the owner and CEO of Herman - Strategic Consultants, a consulting firm based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and serving clients both locally and internationally. Dr. Herman lectures at the Bar-Ilan University in the Master of Communications program, as well as in several MBA programs.
Dr. Dan Herman is the author of the best selling 'Crafting Brand Strategy: The First Step-by-Step Guide to Unique and Irresistible Brands' (Tel-Aviv: Cherikover Publishers, 2001, due in English by the end of 2002) and of numerous journal articles. His new book, 'Think Short! Short-Term Brands Revolutionize Branding', will be available in early summer, 2003.
You can contact Dr. Herman at: email@example.com.
The full e-booklet available for free - download here (316KB).