Preventing the brand from ageing


It is frequently said that a brand is ageing, shows signs of ageing or seems aged. This impression may be felt by customers, noncustomers, suppliers, distributors or employees themselves, who acknowledge a difference between them and their competitors. Ballantines, Martini, Black & White, Club Med, Yves Saint Laurent and Guy Laroche have all been described as ageing.

The concept of ageing has in fact two different meanings:

  • The general meaning suggests a slow but systematic decline over a long period of time. The brand is not destined to end rapidly but seems likely to be inevitably phased out with time. Yesterday strong and active, it appears today much more mundane, as if it no longer had anything to say or to propose to the market and lived exclusively on its loyal clients. One symptom of this is the widening gap between the spontaneous awareness and the assisted awareness. The brand still rings a bell, but it is not one of the brands which has an impact on the market. It does not launch new products as often as the category actors. It does not surprise. It repeats itself. There is only a small difference between repetition and boredom.
  • The second meaning refers to the reflected image of the customer. Everything points to the typical customer being older. And even in the case of a company whose marketing is deliberately targeted at older customers, it is never advisable for the image of a brand to be too closely associated with an older clientele. Although it is aiming at the flourishing older customer market (that is, customers over 50), Damart must make sure not to be associated with the clientele who are 60 or 70. Without going to that extreme, the Yves Saint Laurent label appears to young people to represent a clientele older than that of Dior’s and Chanel.

What is it that produces these impressions of ageing? Most of the time these impressions are well founded: the brand no longer seems to belong to its time and has lost its inner energy.

Many brands allow themselves to be associated with the products of another age. With the acceleration of time, the notion of another era now refers to a close past. In all markets dominated by technology, obsolescence can occur very rapidly. Little can be done for brands linked to a dated technology, or those which seem not to have kept up to date with progress or with the internet.

A brand can be 18 years old and threatened with ageing. The challenge for the eau de toilette Eau Jeune (ie Young Water), launched by l’Oréal for supermarket distribution, is to be still considered Eau Jeune by the next generation of 18- to 25-year-olds, but who are so different. If this brand had remained a single product, it would have disappeared. What symbolised youth in 1987 no longer symbolises it in 1997.

The point of view expressed by the brand on its market can also sometimes seem to be suddenly behind the new dominant values. As long as decisions regarding Playtex in Europe were taken in the United States, the brand never seemed to take into consideration the role of femininity in women’s choices. Even though the products were of high quality, they were purely functional, that is based on the tangible problem of breast support. What was relevant in the United States was totally opposite to the way European women related to their bodies. In its tone and inflexibility, Playtex seemed to be addressing the mothers, not the daughters.

Although it was still the world’s leading brand for shoes and ski bindings, Salomon recently realised that it was in great danger of ageing within a few years. In fact, Salomon, in the same way as Rossignol does, has represented the values of alpine skiing for half a century: effort, order, competition, gaining one hundredth of a second, beating all others by a microsecond.

The new generations no longer subscribe to these values: a counterculture, originating in the surf, is dominant on the slopes, bringing with it new sports and new values. What has been called the ‘glide generation’ has not learnt alpine skiing and probably never will. They instinctively practise snowboarding on the slopes in winter and roller-skating or rollerblading in the streets. They put as paramount values friendship and emotion: they eschew competition and the brands associated with yesteryear. They have elected their own gods: Burton, Airwalk, Quiksilver, Oxbow. All these brands are new and symbolise another vision of sport.

The lack of evolution in a brand’s outward signs indicates its present lack of interest in attracting new customers.

Certain brands also come to a standstill because they remain associated with the same images. The fact that Yves Saint Laurent seems more dated than Dior or Chanel is connected with the omnipresence of the ageing creator himself and association with Catherine Deneuve. Lancôme was sensible enough to bring in younger and international stars.

As for the clientele, the loss of direct contact with young people is the surest symptom of ageing. This is what differentiates Johnnie Walker from Jack Daniel’s or Martini from Bacardi.

Without necessarily having to appeal to young people between the ages of 20 and 25, the brand should always be attractive to tomorrow’s consumers. The buyers who are today in their forties will modify their functional expectations when they reach their fifties. But they will also like to show that they have not changed by staying with their usual brands. They will refuse to support the ghetto brands which signal their entry into old age.

This is why Damart’s future depends on its image among 45-year-old men and women even if its marketing is rather targeted at the 55-year-old senior consumer. Damart has to work on the evolution of its image, not of its target clientele. To do so, they must improve their image so as not to appear a last-frontier brand. This is why, besides the modernization of their main product, underwear, they have left behind their old methods of distribution: some department stores now have a Damart lingerie department next to Playtex, Rosy or Warner. Damart also advertises products that cross the generation barrier, allowing them to dissociate their image from one based merely on age: thick and coloured tights are just as appropriate for a young girl in a short skirt riding a motorbike as they are for skiers and autumn hikers.

Through these significant actions, they address their future customers and put an end to the stagnation of their clientele, for in 1990 Damart was attracting hardly any new buyers, but was selling more and more to loyal customers.

As has been noted, keeping in touch with young people implies a cultural revolution among management. The efforts to be made may seem huge to an older internal team who often do not appreciate the danger they are facing as their own reference points always seem secure. Finally, with consumers living longer, the effects of the clientele’s ageing may pass unnoticed. The decline is slow and never spectacular. But unfortunately, as with a cancer, without an obvious sign of decline to react rapidly to, it may sometimes be too late.

To make the radical internal changes required to energise an organisation which has aged with its own reference points, there should be no hesitation in rejuvenating the entire management with younger people. The revitalisation of brands always starts with a major work of internal rejuvenation.

« Previous Topics
When The Brand Becomes Generic
Distribution Factors
The Factors Of Decline
Next Topics »
Rejuvenating A Brand
Growing Older But Not Ageing
The Latest On Globalisation

Strategic Brand Management Related Practice Tests

Strategic Management Practice Tests
Brand Equity In Question What Is A Brand? Differentiating Between Brandassets, Strength And Value Tracking Brand Equity Goodwill: The Convergence Of Finance And Marketing How Brands Create Value For The Customer How Brands Create Value For The Company Corporate Reputation And The Corporate Brand Strategic Implications Of Branding What Does Branding Really Mean? Permanently Nurturing The Difference Brands Act As A Genetic Programme Respect The Brand ‘contract’ The Product And The Brand Each Brand Needs A Flagship Product Advertising Products Through The Brand Prism Brands And Other Signs Of Quality Obstacles To The Implications Of Branding Brand And Business Building Are Brands For All Companies? Building A Market Leader Without Advertising Brand Building: From Product To Values, And Vice Versa Are Leading Brands The Best Products Or The Best Value? Understanding The Value Curve Of The Target Breaking The Rule And Acting Fast Comparing Brand And Business Models: Cola Drinks From Private Labels To Store Brands Evolution Of The Distributor’s Brand Are They Brands Like The Others? Why Have Distributor's Brands? The Financial Equation Of The Distributor’s Brand The Three Stages Of The Distributor’s Brand The Case Of Decathlon Factors In The Success Of Distributor's Brands Optimising The Dob Marketing Mix The Real Brand Issue For Distributors Competing Against Distributor's Brands Facing The Low-cost Revolution Should Manufacturers Produce Goods For Dob's? Brand Diversity: The Types Of Brands Luxury, Brand And Griffe Service Brands Brand And Nature: Fresh Produce Pharmaceutical Brands The Business-to-business Brand The Internet Brand Country Brands Thinking Of Towns As Brands Universities And Business Schools Are Brands Thinking Of Celebrities As Brands The New Rules Of Brand Management The Limits Of A Certain Type Of Marketing About Brand Equity The New Brand Realities We Have Entered The B To B To C Phase Brand Or Business Model Power? Building The Brand In Reverse? The Power Of Passions Beginning With The Strong 360° Experience Beginning With The Shop The Company Must Be More Human, More Open Experimenting For More Efficiency The Enlarged Scope Of Brand Management Licensing: A Strategic Lever How Co-branding Grows The Business Brand Identity And Positioning Brand Identity: A Necessary Concept Identity And Positioning Why Brands Need Identity And Positioning The Six Facets Of Brand Identity Sources Of Identity: Brand Dna Brand Essence Launching The Brand Launching A Brand And Launching A Product Are Not The Same Defining The Brand’s Platform The Process Of Brand Positioning Determining The Flagship Product Brand Campaign Or Product Campaign? Brand Language And Territory Of Communication Choosing A Name For A Strong Brand Making Creative 360° Communications Work For The Brand Building Brand Foundations Through Opinion Leaders And Communities The Challenge Of Growth In Mature Markets Growth Through Existing Customers Line Extensions: Necessity And Limits Growth Through Innovation Disrupting Markets Through Value Innovation Managing Fragmented Markets Growth Through Cross-selling Between Brands Growth Through Internationalisation Sustaining A Brand Long Term Is There A Brand Life Cycle? Nurturing A Perceived Difference Investing In Communication No One Is Free From Price Comparisons Branding Is An Art At Retail Creating Entry Barriers Defending Against Brand Counterfeiting Brand Equity Versus Customer Equity: One Needs The Other Sustaining Proximity With Influencers Should All Brands Follow Their Customers? Reinventing The Brand: Salomon Adapting To The Market: Identity And Change Bigger Or Better Brands? From Reassurance To Stimulation Consistency Is Not Mere Repetition Brand And Products: Integration And Differentiation Specialist Brands And Generalist Brands Building The Brand Through Coherence Defining The Core Identity Of The Brand Confirming The Presence Of Brand Core Facets In Each Product Identifying The Role Of Each Product Line In The Construction Of The Brand Graphically Representing The Overall System Of The Brand Checking The Coherence Worldwide The Three Layers Of A Brand: Kernel, Codes And Promises Respecting The Brand Dna Managing Two Levels Of Branding Growth Through Brand Extensions What Is New About Brand Extensions? Brand Or Line Extensions? The Limits Of The Classical Conception Of A Brand Why Are Brand Extensions Necessary? Building The Brand Through Systematic Extensions: Nivea Extending The Brand To Internationalize It Identifying Potential Extensions The Economics Of Brand Extension What Research Tells Us About Brand Extensions Avoiding The Risk Of Dilution Balancing Identity And Adaptation To The Extension Market Segments Assessing What Should Not Change: The Brand Kernel Preparing The Brand For Remote Extensions Keys To Successful Brand Extensions Is The Market Really Attractive? An Extension-based Business Model: Virgin How Execution Kills A Good Idea: Easycar Brand Architecture The Key Questions Of Brand Architecture Type And Role Of Brands The Main Types Of Brand Architecture The Flexible Umbrella Brand The Aligning Umbrella Brand (masterbrand) Choosing The Appropriate Branding Strategy New Trends In Branding Strategies Internationalising The Architecture Of The Brand Some Classic Dysfunctions What Name For New Products? Group And Corporate Brands Corporate Brands And Product Brands Multi-brand Portfolios Inherited Complex Portfolios From Single To Multiple Brands: Michelin The Benefits Of Multiple Entries Linking The Portfolio To Segmentation Global Portfolio Strategy The Case Of Industrial Brand Portfolios Linking The Brand Portfolio To The Corporate Strategy Key Rules To Manage A Multibrand Portfolio The Growing Role Of Design In Portfolio Management Does The Corporate Organization Match The Brand Portfolio? Auditing The Portfolio Strategically A Local And Global Portfolio – Nestlé Handling Name Changes And Brand Transfers Brand Transfers Are More Than A Name Change Reasons For Brand Transfers The Challenge Of Brand Transfers When One Should Not Switch Analysing Best Practices Transferring A Service Brand How Soon After An Acquisition Should Transfer Take Place? Managing Resistance To Change Factors Of Successful Brand Transfers Brand Turnaround And Rejuvenation The Decay Of Brand Equity The Factors Of Decline Distribution Factors When The Brand Becomes Generic Preventing the brand from ageing Rejuvenating A Brand Growing Older But Not Ageing Managing Global Brands The Latest On Globalisation Patterns Of Brand Globalisation Why Globalise? The Benefits Of A Global Image Conditions Favouring Global Brands The Excess Of Globalisation Barriers To Globalisation Coping With Local Diversity Building The Brand In Emerging Countries Naming Problems Achieving The Delicate Local–global Balance Being Perceived As Local: The New Ideal Of Global Brands? Local Brands Can Strike Back The Process Of Brand Globalisation Globalising Communications: Processes And Problems Making Local Brands Converge Financial Valuation And Accounting For Brands Accounting For Brands: The Debate What Is Financial Brand Equity? Evaluating Brand Valuation Methods Brand Valuation In Practice The Evaluation Of Complex Cases What About The Brand Values Published Annually In The Press? Strategic Brand Management Interview Questions