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Pearls of wisdom are not so precious

Type “brand expert” into Google and Rob Frankel is the first name that pops up.

Based in California, marketing man Frankel is the author of The Revenge of Brand X and calls himself “the best branding expert on the planet”.
I had some questions about brand loyalty so decided to ask the world’s number one.

I asked him if I adopt a new brand does an old favourite drop out of favour? Frankel replied: “It would depend on how one defined his categories. Does a person stay loyal to one brand of shoe? No, because shoes itself is too broad. But would that person stay loyal to one brand of athletic shoe? Probably.”

This is a surprise to me. I’m loyal to the shop where I buy my running shoes, Run and Become, because of the excellent staff and stock. The brand of shoe is irrelevant.

Next question. Does location, for instance living in a big city, influence the number of brands owned and the switchover rate from one brand to the next? Frankel answered: “Deceptively appealing, but not true.” Huh? “In fact,” he continued, “many people choose and value brands based on the brands’ scarcity, which is why ‘imported’ usually commands a higher value than ‘domestic’.”

Well, that’s just waffle. Making its products available to purchase is key to a brand’s success. Brands tend to drift to where the most people are. Try telling the shoppers in Primark that scarcity counts.

I was beginning to get fed up with Frankel’s counter-intuitive repartee. “People tend to over-simplify these things,” he wrote, “which gets firms into trouble. They’d like everything to fall under one rule. But that’s not how it works. Each situation calls for its own analysis.” Yeah, cheers.

Oliver Horton is a freelance fashion writer and commentator

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