I personally love reading about trends, because with all change and evolution comes exciting new challenges and opportunities!
Over the next few days I'm going to post a series on the 3 trends that captured my attention and felt branding could offer aid and stimulate opportunities.
The 3 trends are:
- Too much choice (which we will chat about today)
- Location branding
- Meaning will attract & retain future talent
If you have any trends that peak your interest or add to these trends, feel free to join the conversation! Trends are a great way for us to see exciting new opportunities for organizations!
Too Much Choice
A strong trend within commerce, that Richard Watson refers to in his book, is Too Much Choice! The idea behind choice is that it leads to consumer freedom so they can choose the product best suited for them, rather than being forced to pick a single option.
Naturally, having competitors, who each produce a product, creates consumer choice. However, organizations wish to capture the greatest market share within their category, so they create multiple options to dominate shelf space hoping to win over consumer choice maximizing their share. For instance, the typical store now has 26 different types of Colgate toothpaste, when there used to be only 2 in 1970!
Unfortunately, having this kind of extensive choice leads to paralysis, as the above quote from Barry Schwartz notes. What this means is that people become so overwhelmed with the selection, that rather than selecting an option, they don't select anything at all! Which is counter to the organizations' initial intentions to try and win market share by dominating shelf space!
In the book, Richard noted that when a supermarket reduced its number of products, it saw an 11% increase in sales. Indicating that consumers were better able to make purchase decisions with less options!
So what does this mean for brands? Well, it means keep it simple! Don't produce so many variations of your products that you lose sight of what your initial product was trying to accomplish (i.e. the organization's brand purpose) and begin appealing to the masses resulting in no longer standing for something. Which eliminates the brand's point of differentiation and, therefore, the reason to buy that product to begin with.
Let's refer to the old example of Apple. In the 80s, when Steve Jobs was not running the show, Apple produced an overwhelming number of computers, which caused confusion among consumers resulting in decreased margins, poor sales and a loss in brand loyalty. But when Steve Jobs came back in the 90s, one of the first things he did was eliminate all unnecessary products, saying Apple was going to only produce a desktop computer, a laptop and it was going to launch a music device.
By focusing on those 3 key products, they were able to improve them, foster focused innovation, and create strong reasons to buy allowing Apple to charge a premium on its products. With every launch of a new Apple product, it's a big deal! Launching updates to existing products happens frequently, but launching a new product only happens when it's something meaningful and game changing.
We can even look to Red Bull. The energy drink purposefully maintains limited shelf space to appear elusive and hard to get stimulating intrigue and demand from customers. They focus on one thing and one thing only - an energy drink. They don't have different types of energy drinks. Although they have launched a diet version, they don't have different recipes - they only have one. Indicating that this is their specialty - all their energy goes into perfecting that one product. This makes product selection easy for customers when shopping for an energy drink - they go with the one that they instantly associate with energy drink and nothing else.
So when you go to create a new product, ensure that you are not going to cannibalize your market. Know your customers appreciate some choice, most of which they are already receiving due to competitors within that market place, and are looking for quick triggers to know what to buy - who's known in that product category and stands for one clear point of differentiation.
Choice is only going to become more plentiful as the world becomes more globalized and more competitors enter the market. Therefore, brands must innovate with their brand purpose in mind to ensure they are creating distinct reasons to buy!