As VR, 3D printing, and wearables become the pet rocks of the internet age — cute, but no value — we turn to the technology that will shake the ground below those of us who make our living building and selling brands … voice.
My kids got me into Alexa, and it has substantially eroded my standing with my boys.
Like. I. Fucking. Needed. That.
Dad was once a trusted source of information on (almost) everything, in my boys’ eyes. They turned to me for answers to questions big and small (What’s the capital of Iceland? What happens when I die?). No more … as there’s someone else, much smarter, living with us.
That bitch, Alexa.
Brands are shorthand for a set of associations that consumers use for guidance toward the right product. CPG brands have spent billions and decades building brand via messaging, packaging, placement (eye level), price, creative, endcaps, etc.
The internet loses much of this, since the impact of zeroes and ones is no match for atoms, and much of the design and feel of the product loses dimension, specifically from three to two (dimensions). As a result, the internet has become a channel to harvest, rather than build, brands.
However, all these weapons of brand … all of them go away with voice.
No packaging, no logos, no price even.
The foreshadowing of the death of brand, at the hand of voice, can be seen in search queries. Fewer and fewer contain a brand prefix or modifier.
Voice, methinks, will expedite the decline of brand equity as a vehicle for sustaining healthy margins.
There is an arrogance in academia and business that a focus on brand building will always be a winning strategy.
No, it might not.
Of the 13 firms that have outperformed the S&P five years in a row (yes, there’s just 13), only one of them is a consumer brand — Under Armour. Note: it will be off next year’s list.
Creative execs at ad agencies and brand managers at consumer firms may soon “decide to spend more time with their families.”
The sun has passed midday on the brand era.At L2 we’ve been running tests (barking commands at Alexa) to glean insight into the Seattle firm’s strategy.
1. It’s clear that Amazon wants to drive commerce through Alexa, as they are offering a lower price, on many products, if ordered via voice vs. click.
2. In key categories like batteries, Alexa will suggest Amazon Basics, their private label, and play dumb about other choices (“Sorry, that’s all I found!”) when there are several other brands on amazon.com.
My point of view: in a world of commodities and less and relevant maintainable relationships a winning strategy with brands becomes harder and harder. These are the fundamental trends now complemented with phenomena such as voice search.