A few days ago we covered the Great Transition research paper by Colonial First State Funds Management’s James White and Stephen Halmarick and followed up with a piece in Business Spectator looking at the ramifications for the Australian economy.
One of Halmarick and White’s assertions is that brands are dead as consumers in emerging economies don’t care about corporate names and in developed nations people have better information about local businesses.
The former argument seems flawed from the beginning; Apple for example is making huge inroads in China while local manufacturers like Lenovo, Huawei, Great Wall and Haier are all working hard to establish their names in international markets.
In developed markets, White and Halmarick’s views have more basis with brand names not having the cachet they once did now consumers have a global platform to voice complaints and find alternatives.
A good example of brands that are struggling are companies like Microsoft and McDonalds, although in the case of both companies this could be more because of a shift in the marketplace rather than better informed consumers.
However brands are surviving as they lift their game and adapt to changed marketplaces, in fact its possible to argue that today’s consumers are more responsive to brand names than ever in the past.
A good example of this is again Apple which has more fans than ever before. Apple are also a good example of how big corporations can invest huge amounts into new technologies and products to give them an advantage over upstarts.
We should also remember that brands as we currently know them are largely a Twentieth Century phenomenon born out of the development of mass media communications and many of today’s household names came into the culture thanks to television in the 1950s and 60s.
So as creatures of last century’s media it’s not surprising that brands are having to evolve to a changed world, some of them will thrive and grow while others will shrivel away.
It’s safe to say though that the concept of brands isn’t dead, although many of the names we know today may not exist by the end of the decade.