Britain’s Biggest Brands is five years old - an anniversary that coincides with the recession. And that makes this year’s supplement a survival proxy for fast-moving consumer goods - and a testament to fantastic business stewardship in the most hostile economic conditions imaginable.
But what about the 17 household names that have dropped out of our 100-strong ranking? There’s no single reason for their disappearance. Tastes change, and own label constantly threatens to commoditise brands and categories alike. But without question the brand’s management must often accept a share of the blame.
Take Kellogg’s. In 2009, Special K was ranked 49th in The Grocer’s first-ever survey of Britain’s Biggest Brands. Today it’s at 104. To me, the writing was on the wall when this diet-focused brand launched a chocolate-flavoured variant. As brand extensions go, that was simply a stretch too far, in terms of credibility. And consumers have moved on to more health-conscious and more convenience-based options, leaving Special K to play catch-up.
“This year’s survey is a testament to fantastic brand stewardship in the most hostile conditions”
Rob Brown, special reports editor
Goodfella’s has been found out for different reasons. While rival Dr Oetker ganged up with Chicago Town to launch wave after wave of consumer-focused NPD, the Northern Foods-owned brand has used promotion as a cheap substitute for innovation. And again, the consumer hasn’t bought it.
What divides our high achievers from the drop-outs, then, is not price per se, or innovation per se. It’s the ability to listen and lead at the same time. Winners are highly attuned to the changing demands of consumers - and find the best ways to meet their needs, identifying the right products, at the right price, and matching them to the right channels (like convenience and the discounters), with the right promotion.
And that’s the other thing about Britain’s Biggest Brands. The most successful brands have retuned to new media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, for their most effective promotions. Those that haven’t face dropping out altogether.