2nd august 2018 / Simon Taylor

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of brands?

We can see at OKO that consumers are showing a greater willingness to try alternative brands, especially if they feel they are saving money or getting better quality. For example, the introduction of Aldi & Lidl into the retail market place has highlighted how easy it is to disrupt consumers’ existing beliefs & mindsets.

From our experiences talking to customers through research in stores, in home and online we can see a real shift in behaviour.

Recent events such as the emissions scandal surrounding VW, supplier mistreatment at Tesco and avoidance of tax by Starbucks are bubbling up in consumers’ minds, creating a feeling of ‘distrust’ and ‘reluctance’ to stay loyal to once trusted and established brands.

As one consumer put it: “They have done a lot of damage to their brand, I would think twice now before buying a VW”

Although successful brands such as Apple continue to post great profits, we hear more and more from consumers that the distinction between brands is becoming eroded as big brands struggle to innovate and differentiate.

Smaller brands and own label brands are now more able to catch up with big brands through innovation, price and just being different. And customers are more open to giving them a try.

From our experience talking to consumers we can see many are becoming desensitised towards long established brands; loyalty built-up over time is not enough to guarantee future success. People are becoming more fickle when it comes to brands, the death of one brand often just means more space for a new or different brand.

“When the Phones4U shop closed they replaced it with Vodafone so I wasn’t really bothered, they had a better selection of phones”

Consumers tell us the brands they consider to be most successful are the ones that take time to understand their customers, demonstrating they want to listen and put customer needs first. They are unafraid to change the way they do things or take risks on new ideas to see if they work, always looking to deliver something better. As one retail customer put it:

“Aldi just get people, no one wants to spend hours shopping anymore, I can get in & out quickly, I don’t feel like I am paying too much and get food that looks more exciting and different than the other supermarkets – it’s such a refreshing change”

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