Product Isn’t King After All

If you haven’t read Al Ries’s article on Ad Age this week, go do it now. The subject matter is a simple concept that many brands choose to ignore. You cannot rely solely on a superior product to create success. Holding the almighty “first in mind” spot among consumer audiences is extremely hard to achieve. It does not happen simply because the product is better than the competition. The brands that hold this coveted location deep in the minds if their target audiences are the ones that didn’t ignore their marketing needs. They used their ad budgets to get the brand out there, not just the product.

Hunt's vs Heinz Brand Food Marketing

The article goes on to discuss how this affects new categories, line extensions, and more. But the real take away is products can’t stand alone. As Ries so aptly demonstrates in this example:

Most consumers will give the same answer to the questions on the left – no. The statements on the right show a little something about why – that the number one brands are all “first in mind.”

Are Energizer batteries better than Duracell?                                            Duracell was first in mind. Not Energizer.

Is Bing better than Google?                                                                    Google was first in mind. Not Bing.

Is Adidas better than Nike?                                                                    Nike was first in mind. Not Adidas.

Is Hunt’s ketchup better than Heinz?                                                     Heinz was first in mind. Not Hunt’s.

Is Office Depot better than Staples?                                                        Staples was first in mind. Not Office Depot.

Is Yale better than Harvard.                                                                   Harvard was first in mind. Not Yale.

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