I just finished reading an article in The Scotsman called More to exporting than bagpipes & tartan by Colin Donald.
It’s an article focusing on Paul Walsh – Chief Executive of Diageo and newly named Chairman of the SWA.
In the article, Mr. Walsh is quoted as saying:
think the reason that Scotch languished as it did in the 1990s was
that, as marketeers, we relied too much on the wonders of the product
and we communicated those wonders through – forgive me – bagpipes,
heather and tartan. Those are very important and relevant qualities but
in today’s world they are not enough to position the product to a
Mr. Walsh gets it. I’d like the opportunity to chat with Mr. Walsh, as I am impressed with his stewardship of Diageo – and the man has certainly turned a good profit for me as a shareholder.
What Diageo, as a marketing behemoth, misses is that marketing needs to be authentic – and authenticity can come from selling the Kilts and Castles. If you forgo that imagery, then your approach must firmly rooted in an authentic departure.
Despite what most CPG brand managers believe, branding is NOT the "Walking Man" or inexplicable brand extensions or even the product itself – instead a brand is that impalpable convergence between what you want a customer to think about your product – and what they actually think about it.
Brands are defined by consumers – not by the companies which produce them.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for all the marketing, advertising, and public relations people (and not just at Diageo) – who are absolutely certain that they can control the mind of the weak-willed consumer. They miss the point that a company can certainly influence how a consumer thinks – by clearly describing the qualities which differentiate a product.
Playing on the insecurities of the consumer – as so many marketers do – is not "life-style". Nor is it a long-term marketing strategy.
So while I agree with Mr. Walsh’s keen observation (and I don’t just say that because I’ve been saying it for years) that in order to be truly successful in the world-wide market, the perception of Scotch has to change – a move to life-style based marketing is a great start – but certainly not the only answer.
Life-style marketing is not a panacea – and, managed poorly such approaches can unfortunately degenerate into fad status. It can also become the basis for a very poor play-book. (Rap Stars & Alcohol, anyone?)
Continue Reading >>