Experience has taught me that I should pay attention to trends when they start to pop up in a few different places at once. One such trend has recently stuck its head above my parapet.
I was at a Bord Bia talk on the future of Irish food and drink brands earlier this month and Tim Mobsy (recently retired Chairman of Kellogg Europe) made a very compelling case about the business danger of over fragmenting a market – thus losing focus and customer interest, cannibalisation etc.
Last week, someone waxed so lyrically about the virtues of a book called Different by a Harvard professor Youngme Moon that I have now just finished reading it (an aside…. this was my first ebook – pros and cons of same in later blog).
It is a great read. Her thesis is quite damning with regards to how companies in attempting to improve/augment their brands have created a world where most of the differences are now meaningless. I can think of countless markets where this is the case.
She challenges the reader to think less about focusing on the weakness of a brand (and getting it to the same place as its competition) but instead to focus on its strengths and thus create meaningful gaps between it and its competition. The book is littered with examples of brands (the good and the bad) striving for competitive advantage.
To succeed she challenges marketers to forget the ‘rules’ they have learnt. Like Malcolm Gladwell she believes we should look at the ‘Outliers’, the brands who are doing things differently, not to copy them but to learn from the journey they have taken.