Reinventing brands and stores

March 27, 2012

Brands that fall out of step with what consumers want—even stellar ones—can recover with the right insights and repositioning.

Ideally, CPG brands and retailers remain relevant to consumers over time. Foods with healthier formulas and stores that supply iPads for omni-channel shopping are two recent examples that help them do that today.

A look back shows that even stellar brands can lose sight of what matters most to their users. Consider Kodak, which was one of the first to digital but let the world pass it by. Or Borders, a recent victim of Amazon and e-reader technology. Or countless other names that once held sway, but failed to change with their markets and suffered.

By contrast, Cadillac has rediscovered its mojo with a new voice driven by a 28-year-old woman at the Fallon agency it hired. Kicking dust off the brand’s stodgy image, Veda Partalo brings an edgier look and new sensibilities that help Cadillac compete against racier imports.  According to Fast Company, she’d rather emphasize “quantifiable evidence of craftsmanship” such as the car’s superior head-to-head racetrack performance results against BMW.  And she herself is a bridge between her generation and the quality they associate “with their grandparents’ era.” Sales sped up 36% since the agency took over the campaign, the account said.

The Lempert Report thinks plenty of food and retailer brands could benefit from fresh air like this. It doesn’t mean trying to launch a New Coke to be dramatic. Rather, we’re talking about honoring what made (and continues to make) your brand great, and wrapping that within messages and experiences that consumers want today. Every aspect of a brand—from product formulations to packaging to advertising—should be re-evaluated. And when out of step with consumer demand, reinvented. Insights are essential to these efforts because it must be consumers who drive them.