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Brand Survival in the Age of Retailer Power

Kogan Page,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To sell their wares, manufacturers must become “servants” – or shrewd partners – of giant retailers.

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Every great political movement, religion and scientific transformation begins with a revolution. “Retailization” may well be that revolution in worldwide marketing. Of course, from a historical perspective, it is simply a new wrinkle in the 100-year-old phenomenon of the consumer society – but a big one. Lars Thomassen, Keith Lincoln and Anthony Aconis advocate, “putting retail at the center of your business.” Brand owners have been trying to do this for decades, but they have ranged from successful innovators to laggards who died or got swallowed by conglomerates or competitors. The authors have re-examined today’s conditions in the light of the International Retailization Study 2005, “the largest global study every conducted” about selling branded merchandise, a two-year effort by media pollsters A.C. Nielsen and the BBDO Europe advertising agency. The authors alert any remaining brand-marketing optimists to the new level of competition and offer some concrete strategies. getAbstract recommends this clarion call about the retail revolt.


Branding Undermined

The great shift to retail supremacy has already happened. In pure business terms, the earthquake that threatens branding has taken place. The United States and many other industrialized nations’ markets are now in the age of retailing – and the former age of brands is merely a purple afterglow on the western horizon.

Obviously, retailing has always been a major part of modern economies, since it links the consumer with the sources of manufactured goods. But even more than a century ago, the marketplace – especially the retailer – clearly understood the importance of the individual shopper. As eminent department store owner John Wanamaker stated in 1986, “When a customer enters my store, forget me, he is king.”

You might think that nothing has changed since then, because everybody is a customer or potential customer, but something nearly violent has occurred. The customer no longer rules supreme, nor does the major brand manufacturer. Today, the retailer, particularly the global retailer, is in charge. Obviously no retail store can exist without customers. The fact is, however, that the retailer shapes the customer’s needs and habits, because...

About the Authors

Lars Thomassen and Keith Lincoln are advertising executives with 30 years of experience in marketing and global branding. Marketing consultant Anthony Aconis has developed global brands for 11 years.

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