Imagine having spent the past 25 years in the marketing department of a leading consumer brand. Maybe you’re thinking how mindnumbing it would be to work on one brand that long. Certainly you would have faced some challenges, but fighting off boredom would not have been among them. The last quarter century was a period of unprecedented change that forced consumer goods manufacturers to significantly alter many of their go-to-market practices. Among the developments to contend with:
- Accelerating consumer diversity. Major demographic shifts required leading brands to tailor communications and expand product ranges to maintain market share.
- Increasing media fragmentation. The number of television stations received by the typical household has increased sixfold since 1985. Advertising itself became more varied, spreading from the airwaves and magazine pages to become a ubiquitous presence, adorning everything from bathroom stalls to race cars.
- Retail landscape makeover. Walmart, Target, and Costco evolved from regional players to national powerhouses, setting new standards for value and forcing leading brands to play by new rules.
- Maintaining a lead in this environment meant adding a bunch of plays to the big brand playbook. Certainly, the game had become more challenging but at its core, it was the same game. Communication was still delivered through mass media, and consumers still went to stores to buy your products. Many large brands shed some share points over this period, but most remained among the leaders in their categories.
Now a new force is reshaping brand marketing: digital. Primarily associated with the Internet, digital also refers to other real-time interactive platforms, such as on-demand television and mobile.
Unlike anything brands have seen before, digital heralds a transformation in brand marketing practices. Digital is a new game that many leading brands have yet to master.