Sunday, 24 August 2014

Customers buy your Brand, never your product

Your reputation. Your image. Your story. Your gloss, so to speak. 

All that drives sales. Far more than your actual product. 

The blind coke test is a classic: test upon test upon experiment upon experiment shows that participants always prefer Pepsi Cola. When they can't see the label. Whereas if you put two branded bottles on the table, it's the Coca-Cola one that will be empty most quickly. 
Now  a test in Sweden with 100 beer lovers went one step further. Here the participants could simply not distinguish Heineken and Stella.

And here we're talking 2 brands that are hugely defended by their consumers, at least those from Belgium (Stella) and the Netherlands (Heineken).

Once again the approval or disapproval seems to stem from social confirmation or social training - or what one within the tribe is told to be better. 

If you hear 10 times that Italian is such a beautiful language, chances are higher that you start to focus on the beauty of some Italian words - your radar focusses on that detail you've been told about. Whereas if you've heard (and we all did, for 7 decades in movies) German described as harsh, the 30-odd harsh words in that languages are instantly picked up.

Back to the beer test:

It must be said that neither of the participants were Dutch or Belgian. "Come on, this can't be true" was the reaction of a Belgian newspaper, "for sure we Belgians will know the difference". But a similar blind test at their redaction showed that it was not that easy. And here we're talking about a country that religiously defends, almost reveres, it's most popular brand.

For marketers that have studied cultural determination, it's not a big surprise. For the same applies to basically everything.

"French is a more beautiful language than Finnish". Think again. If the opera's had been written in Finnish, or it would have been Finland forever repeating it's language is 'better', or parents would motivate their children to speak it as eloquently as possible, we would all say that Finnish is 'so musical, so elegant, the real language of love'.

For you will be on the look-out of nice tones and words in one, and strange or unfamiliar ones in the other.

Hence why German went from the cultural language of the great composers, poets and scientists, to being the 'ugliest' or 'most unpleasant' language, to a slow restoration again. 

Languages, just as products, are Brands. They have established their reputation in the market, or market share so to speak. Once riddled with French expressions, most European languages have gotten rid of them again, for they lost their hipness or reputation of being cultured, to replace them by, first, German ones and, over the past 7 decades, English ones. That too will pass.

Everything is a brand. It does not matter what our topic of conversation is, Apple, Italian or Abercrombie & Fitch: the best Brand will be the market leader. 

The one who knows that packaging is not just about a glossy ribbon. The story and myth are equally important. And social confirmation is used to kick the ball in the goal.


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