Why in the world of brands, heritage aint worth what it used to be.
In the world of brands, consumer trends will over time create a tipping point, changing the way markets engage and respond. When this occurs, established brands see their market share eroding and at the same time opportunities appear for new, competitor brands to successfully launch. Potentially one of the strongest and most influential trends we’ve seen in the last five years has been identified by trendwatching.com as ‘clean slate brands’. This trend has been the result in a shift in consumer behaviour with the potential to disrupt a wide range of brands, especially those in B2C categories. This shift is demanding established market leaders sit-up and take notice, as it provides significant opportunity for also-ran and start-up brands to gain ‘fast mover’ advantage.
The consumer shift behind the emergence of clean slate brands has been driven by a change in attitude that’s seen customers across categories and markets lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage or history. This profound shift is creating a whole new breed of exceptional brands living by a new set of rules of engagement, with consumers attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were once only attracted to established brands. The by-product of this shift is that the previously valuable brand attribute of ‘established’ is drawing associations with brands that tired, lack innovation and relevance to their customers.
For Consumers, ‘New’ now Equates to ‘Better’.
In a significant swing of sentiment, the consumer has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. Business 3.0 is truly delivering on its promise of innovation. Brands from every corner of the globe are busy creating and launching a rush of new products and services, that are significantly better and more exciting than what’s currently in the market. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if you’re not moving forward you’re standing still – but more likely you’ll find yourself moving backwards’.
The reality of the brave new world of business is that players are emerging more nimble, more creatively minded and laser-focused on what consumers want than the established brands they are competing with. This uber-consumer focus is creating a generation of brands producing products and services that are highly attuned to what today’s consumers want and need. This is particularly concerning if you happen to be one of those established brands, as the very platform that has positioned you so well and protected you from new market entrants may be turning into an anchor – slowing your momentum and potentially dragging you under. For many of the established market leaders the ability to drive genuine brand innovation and deliver it quickly to market is their one Achilles heel.
As clean slate brands connect with an ever growing wave of consumers, providing fresh and exciting experiences, they’re re-enforcing the belief that ‘new’ is ‘better’ – increasing the appetite of consumers for more of the same and accelerating the shift.
At the very heart of brand strategy lies the principle of trust connected to recognition. The concept of brand trust relies on the desire of consumers to over time recognize a brand through its visual identity – a language of symbols, colours, packaging and advertising imagery – and associate that brand with a range of perceptions that help the consumer navigate the ocean of choices they face every day. This concept which for so-long has been a cornerstone principle of branding is beginning to shift as consumers develop a sense of ‘instant trust’.
The ‘instant trust’ phenomenon is most prevalent in mature economies. “In mature economies trust in big business has never been lower: only 28% trust big business in the UK, 30% in Japan, 32% in Australia, 33% in the US and 34% in Canada. In emerging markets however, consumers’ trust levels in established brands are much higher: 83% in China, 72% in Turkey, 65% in Brazil and India (Havas, January 2013)”.
Why connecting with clean slate brands feel more meaningful
The DNA of clean slate brands is intertwined with that of consumers, who are often much more closely involved with the creation of the brand, it’s products and services than they are with established brands. These close ties forged through crowdsourced funding and feedback, through social media relationships that lead to shared product and brand development, and a plethora of other personal interactions in the online and offline world create a consumer connection that established brands will struggle to compete with. The playing field is being tipped in favour of the clean slate brands from the outset. With this increased connection comes a sense of ownership, or at least partnership – and that equates to a whole new level of meaningful relationship between consumer and clean slate brand.
Some Clean Slate Brand Case Studies
Coffee Joulies, a US-based company lets consumers decide whether to move manufacturing to China
‘In December 2012, the creators of Coffee Joulies (a product which keeps hot beverages hotter for long) asked customers to vote to determine whether or not the brand should move production from an American factory to a less costly Chinese one. Consumers could help decide on the location of manufacturing by making a purchase using either a USA or China coupon code. To reflect the lower costs of Chinese manufacturing, the discount using the China coupon was USD 10, while the one for the USA was only USD 5.’
W Motors: Luxury sports car developed in the Middle East
‘Beirut-based W Motors unveiled the HyperSport at the Qatar Motor Show. With a 750 horsepower engine, the HyperSport is capable of a top speed of 240mph, and is priced at USD 3.4 million. The brand (which is the first luxury sports car brand from the Arab region), planned to produce only seven units of the ‘hypercar’, however over 100 orders were received in the week after the car was launched. A signal that ultra-wealthy consumers will spend serious money on a clean slate brand with no history or heritage, even if that involves delivering a resounding ‘f–k you’ to any eco-concerns’.
Simple: Digital banking startup focused on customer service builds a waiting list of over 125,000
‘Simple offers its users simplified and accessible banking through online and mobile apps. Despite not having the heritage and physical presence of a traditional bank, Simple launched its first full release in July 2012, working through the 125,000 customer waiting list that it had built since its launch was announced in 2010.’
For a full briefing on the Clean Slate Brans trend as well as an overview of implications and opportunities, check-out trendwatching.com trendwatching.com is one of the world’s leading consumer trends firms, spotting trends and drawing insights from a global network of hundreds of spotters.