How to Survive the Brand Apocalypse

It’s a spooky time for brands, and not just because October is Halloween. E-commerce and the growth of private label means retailers are putting the squeeze on national brands. In fact, some say the death of brand loyalty is upon us as Catalina reports that 90 percent of leading household goods brands are losing market share. If a brand apocalypse is coming, what can communicators do to help brands not just survive, but thrive in this changing landscape?

Like any good apocalyptic story-line, preparedness will be key…

1. Connect with consumers where they are. Know what’s important to your target and meet those needs. For example, GenZennials are all about the side hustle. Show how your brand can fuel their hustle. Gen X seems to be marketing’s forgotten generation, yet they are at the height of their careers with the largest households and most responsibility (caring for their kids and aging parents). Give them a hand as they are stuck in the middle.

2. Be more than a {insert your category here} company. To give your brand relevance and meaning in people’s lives, you need to be more than just your category. Be an innovator and use technology to meet consumer needs in novel ways. Be a destination and create an immersive experience for consumers to spend quality time with your brand.

3. Think about retail differently. As e-commerce grows, counsel your clients on how to use influencers to drive sales. Amazon launched its own influencer storefronts. For brick and mortar, look to partner with retailers for unique activations that benefit both.

4. Stand for something clear and distinctive. Show consumers you share the same values. With 15 percent of the world’s population living with some form of disability, it’s no surprise that we are seeing brands celebrate ableism. While most values remain the same, how they are manifested is changing. We are also seeing changes in family togetherness. It used to be that family dinner was that sacred quality time spent together bonding as a family. But, as new household dynamics have emerged, sitting down together at 7 pm for a home cooked meal is difficult. Instead, many families are getting their quality time in through play. Amazon just released Amazon Echo buttons to enable game play through Alexa devices.

5. Be flexible as a brand and an organization. Brands that are not so precious about their products have enjoyed massively successful marketing campaigns. Let consumers play with your product, even beyond its intended use. For example, by highlighting creative ways to reuse the packaging versus just focusing on the RTBs, consumers are able to engage and evangelize the brand on a new level. In the race to real-time, flexibility is also key. Organizations that can flex and move quickly to respond to real-time opportunities are finding the greatest ROI. And these don’t need to be over-the-top activation responses, some clever copy writing and a well-timed tweet can win the day.

While it might be scary times for big national brands, it’s also an exciting time to push brands to try something new. Be bolder, be better, and that will ensure we can leave the zombies to the movies.

Happy Halloween!

Lauren Sugarman is an SVP, Strategic & Creative Planner who works with Ketchum client across categories including food, retail and CPG. She’s also a children’s book author, mom or three and Bravo-holic.