Consumers Move Like Zombies Toward Their Brand
good or bad be dammed
In the late 1970s, supermarkets in the United States, morphed into makeshift science centers, with consumers, unwittingly filling the roles of laboratory rats. Entire shelves, were cleared, then converted into real life testing areas, under the guise of discount shopping. The products were known as generics, supposedly substitutes for staples of the American diet. Easily identified by the yellow packaging and large black letters, which all but screamed out its contents. No longer necessary to sort through the multitude of brands, if macaroni & cheese was on the dinner menu, MACARONI & CHEESE was literally, the only words those black letters spelled out. As an unintended consequence, it sped up the shopping process for bachelors and college students, but the real purpose was to test consumer’s loyalty to their favorite brand.
While some items were disastrous, AMERICAN CHEESE SLICES, for example, which never seem to melt (however, conspiracy theorists believe these products were ringers), it was a fairly, well-known fact, most generic products, CORN FLAKES, being one, was the exact same product as the original brand, from the exact same company, at half the price. On the surface, creating a frenzy over generics, allowed corporations to sell one product under two separate disguises, creating additional revenue streams. However, more money was simply a windfall, allowing the case study to pay for itself. What was actually being measured, was the level and intensity of consumer actions, under lifelong bombardment, of a multi-billion dollar marketing industry.
Brand loyalty does not come easy or cheap, and can be irreparably damaged over the simplest of things. However, mastering the art of branding – the corner stone of fundamental marketing – is the goose and the golden egg it laid. Nike, eBay, Yahoo, the NFL, McDonald’s and Oprah are powerhouses at brand marketing. Nike, simply cannot put a high enough price tag on its sneakers, to keep its throng of customers at bay. And while all other American-born fast food chains, have undergone dramatic metamorphoses, to maintain their share of the market (remember when Jack was actually in the box), Ronald still rules McDonald’s.
There is absolutely, nothing wrong with winning a consumers’ heart, and ipso facto, their valued dollars. And while there is certainly a valid argument over the usage of subliminal messaging and hard-sale marketing tactics, what the 1970s Generic Case Study discovered, is how even when cornered with knowledge of a better, non-abusive, cost-saving option, many consumers walk like zombies, straight into the arms of their favorite brand, good or bad be dammed.
Below: 3 random categories, listed under generic (pun intended) terms of Good & Bad. These zombie-rich, favored brands, are distinguished solely, on their loyalty to the consumers, that are so darn loyal to them.
Good – MetroPCS. Sure, when they were a fledgling startup, calls were dropped in falling domino-like fashion; coverage barely made it down the block, and as the cherry, its unsanctioned nickname, was ghettro. But that was nearly two decades ago. During that time, MetroPCS perfected their product, by expanding coverage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and from the Gulf to the Great Lakes; and for the jaw-dropping finale, they offer the exact same product as the industry giants (smartphones, Internent, wifi), with unlimited talk, text and data, all for one very comfortable price. “Can you hear ME now?” the little engine must have said, as it single-handedly, shifted the tele-communications market.
Bad – Sprint. If it isn’t bad enough, that many of their consumers are still paying for minutes (sounds archaic to Metro users), as well as, electronically deleting contacts from their customers’ old phones, just to demand payment for download into their new ones; those pale in comparison to their marketing techniques – paramount to economic brutality – of using trickery to extend those account draining 2-year contracts.
Good – The Young Turks. Are they partisan? Sure. Biased? Of course. But, their jovial delivery soften the blows of polarization (the episode bantering over Congressman Mike Coffman is YouTube Classic). Their positions are crystal clear, not possible, or necessary to spin it any other way, but they do so in such a way, it allows casual viewers to disagree with their opinions, without inhaling fumes of disrespect.
Bad – Rush Limbaugh.Absolute power, corrupts absolutely is certainly a powerful quote, but it is not inherently true. Mr. Limbaugh earned his money, stature and fame, fair and square. His legion of followers are of legend, not simply by their shear numbers, which are impressive all by itself, but the sway he holds over the ditto-heads, may be unparalleled in a civil society (Oprah, during her apex, excepted). Playing the game historians love, What if his positioning within the Grand Old Party, was that of healer rather than destroyer? What if he utilized the gravity of his words to support his stated beliefs, rather than as vicious, useless rhetoric, of his claim to fame. What if…
Good – City Parks. Well maintained, physical activities for the entire family, strict rules and watchful eyes, which helps maintain a joy-filled innocence. When local purse strings were tight, city parks’ budgets were decimated. In one city, (ask Ripley), park bathrooms were closed to save money on cleaning fees. Needless, to say, that unreasonable order crashed and burned, and the bathrooms were re-opened, thankfully, a week later. In the lingering battle over health care for all (a battle which, is moving down to 30 of the 50 states), city parks are a free, fun, and nearby healthy source. When city leaders fumbled the ball, community members picked it right back up, and ran with it. Even raising money to keep the swimming pools open – in a region baked under summer’s sun – after the council had boarded them close.
Bad – Marlboro. I am not quite sure whom Bad refers to here. Is it the industry that spends billions in brand marketing; and propaganda, which attempts to deny that cigarettes are legal products, designed to accelerate death? OR those of us, that continue to consume them, allowing a fierce Zombie named addiction, the power to countdown the days of our lives.
written, developed & edited by Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger
Posted in: marketing/branding