April 2013 Trend Briefing:
CLEAN SLATE BRANDS
Heritage is the new baggage ;-)
There's a profound shift in power taking place in the business arena. With a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of Business 3.0, consumers are now attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were attracted to established brands in the past. In fact, 'established' is now often just another word for tired if not tainted. The future belongs to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS.
CLEAN SLATE BRANDS:
Newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive; consumers are rushing to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS and are now lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage and history.
Driving this trend:
1. LUST FOR THE NEW
Why for consumers, ‘new’ now truly means ‘better’
As we highlighted in NEWISM, the consumer arena has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. Thanks to the democratization and globalization of innovation (not to mention the celebration of entrepreneurship), brands and individuals from all corners of the world are now working around the clock to dream up and launch endless new products and services, that are truly better and more exciting than current offerings. Lower barriers to entry has gone from buzzphrase to reality, especially online.
And to underscore the 'for and by' element of the democratization of innovation, new players are by default more nimble and laser-focused on what consumers want now (as opposed to yesterday) than the bigger legacy-laden brands they compete with.
So from being something that was pushed to consumers by businesses (‘new and improved’), the ‘new’ is now subject to an increasingly strong pull from consumers. Excited by positive experiences of a ‘new’ that is genuinely ‘better’, consumers are hungry for more.
The whole concept of ‘brands’ rests on the idea that consumers need recognizable, trusted symbols, honed over many years, to help them navigate the wealth of available choices. However this idea is being swept aside in a business arena* now characterized by INSTANT TRUST.
* This trend is most relevant in mature economies, where 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 are much higher: 83% in China, 72% in Turkey, 65% in Brazil and India (Havas, January 2013). The question is: will big business maintain this trust?
Four forces are making consumers immediately comfortable with (and even prefer) turning to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS:
Now that experiences are increasingly shared, and even the newest of the new is instantly reviewed and rated, consumers have THE F-FACTOR, and feel more confident in being earlier and earlier adopters.
92% trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising, up 18% since 2007. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information with a 70% trust rating, up 15% since 2008. Television ads were trusted by only 47%, down 24% since 2009.
(Nielsen, April 2012)
CLEAN SLATE BRANDS better reflect the zeitgeist. The fact that they are (by definition) newly established, means that they often have ‘new’ business values – such as higher environmental, ethical and social standards – deeply baked into their business models and practices. Just witness how the values of local, storied, sustainable, progressive new businesses have been consistently appropriated by big businesses, as they stumble to catch up here.
The average age of brands in Millward Brown’s BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands Report has fallen consistently, from 84 in 2006 to 68 in 2012.
(Millward Brown, May 2012)
CLEAN SLATE BRANDS’ simple, lean operations (everything from fair labor practices, transparent supply chains and clean design) are easily understandable – and therefore trusted – by consumers. And with scandal after scandal (from financial products to horsemeat) being blamed on excess 'complexity', who can blame them?
Brands that simplify customer decision-making are 115% more likely to be recommended.
(Corporate Executive Board, May 2012)
Business practices are now totally transparent (and if not, merely waiting to be exposed). CLEAN SLATE BRANDS know this. Consumers know that CLEAN SLATE BRANDS know this. Which explains why, on top of the fact that CLEAN SLATE BRANDS, almost by definition, cannot have sinned yet (they've just started, after all), consumers trust them to act correctly in the future too.
64% of global consumers think most companies are trying to be responsible only to improve their image.
(Havas Media, 2011)
Or, to put it another way, many ‘old’ brands were set up in the era of industrial capitalism, when secrecy was a source of competitive advantage and shareholders encouraged pursuit of profit at any cost. Now the world has changed, but even older brands that want to reposition themselves have a hard time wrestling with internal fiefdoms, convoluted legacy systems and opaque supply chains (something that many big company readers of our Trend Briefings might have first hand experience of ;-).
3. OPEN OPERATION
Why using or buying from CLEAN SLATE BRANDS feels more meaningful
CLEAN SLATE BRANDS are natives in a land where communication with brands is two-way, participatory and less reverential, and as such can connect with consumers in a way that older brands often struggle to.
Whether it’s through offering financial support, by helping to shape a brand’s operations, or even by contributing to the product itself (see the Lockitron, Coffee Joulies and Waze examples below), customers of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS often feel more in control – a basic human desire – and that they have a meaningful relationship with the brand*.
* Yes, we too hate the idea that all consumers want to ‘have a relationship’ with any brand they buy from ;-) There are many purchases that are, and will remain, purely functional. But even in traditionally ‘low involvement’ categories such as domestic care, CLEAN SLATE BRANDS with strong stories and identities can thrive. Witness for example how Method’s design-led, eco-friendly products succeeded against P&G’s and Unilever’s.
Examples of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS that are making waves »
Consumers have always been attracted to local, authentic food and beverage brands. Here are just a couple of recent innovative examples:
Wewi: Brazil’s first ever organic soda is made with Amazonian guarana
Launched in September 2012, Wewi is the first ever organic soda to be produced in Brazil. The low calorie soft drink is made from 100% organic Amazonian guarana, organic sugar and carbonated water, and is free of artificial flavorings and preservatives.