Are we still ruled by brands or are we losing our label?

By Alex Sweeney, Senior Account Manager

The 20th century saw the development of many of our most recognised brands. Dulux the Dog was introduced as the painter’s best friend back in the 1950s while the Milky Bar kid has been protecting white chocolate in the Wild West since time began.

However, the 21st century has seen an unsolicited attack on our much-loved goods, with the likes of Sainsbury’s Basic Beans undercutting Heinz, while Aldi outrageously takes on Penguin biscuits with their own Seal bars.

Fizzy drink giant, Coca Cola is the latest company to admit that using technology in the right way is the key ingredient to grow the brand further. Brands can no longer rely on consumers simply buying more and more because of the label, highlighting the importance of commercials and marketing tactics to keep consumers firmly on the brand trail.

With a big brand often comes a big advert, last Christmas, the nation fell in love with ‘Buster the Boxer’ on his trampoline, courtesy of John Lewis, and shed a tear in 2014 as Sainsbury’s brought war at Christmas time to our screens, but are well-known brands doing enough to keep our custom?

Back on the shop floor, this week it was time for Aldi to raise a glass as its Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin, costing just £9.97 was rated above Beefeater’s Burrough’s reserve, priced at £63.35. If you couple results like these with the recent news that Heinz sales dropped by £27.4 million in a year, the brand picture could be looking bleak for many of our household favourites.

However, the high-street story portrays a different picture, with Ted Baker defying the retail gloom with rising sales and profits with a 4.4{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} increase while Primark sales fell for the first time in 16 years at the end of last year.

So, this poses the question, what are brands doing to keep or custom? One old trick that EE is including in its latest ad campaign is using to a celebrity to front up the brand. EE describes Kevin Bacon, as a “living personification” of its brand according to Max Taylor, managing director of marketing at EE. Taylor believes that for a celebrity ambassadors must be ‘like family or they won’t work’.

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Morrisons has vowed to build its marketing campaign around its customers, collecting customer feedback from 5,000 shoppers every week, to gain a greater understanding of them. Morrisons boasted the best sales rise for over seven years over Christmas, perhaps providing evidence that listening to you customers is the best solution?

A data-driven marketing approach is also being used by the likes of Marks and Spencer and the BBC. M&S are making the most of customer data to offer a more personalised service by targeting individuals, while the BBC are creating ‘entertaining content purely for social media’ to engage their audience.

These more detailed and targeted approaches suggest that brands are now having to work harder than ever before to keep customers attached. It seems that the days of simply shopping at Tesco because ‘every little helps’ or buying Frosties because Tony the Tiger says ‘they’re great’ could be over as the ‘battle of the brands’ continues to rage.