SIR;"Brand hyperventilation" is an excellent characterisation of the challenges faced by SIR;"Brand hyperventilation" is a great characterisation of the challenges faced by consumer products organisations (& 'To stretch or not to stretch', The Grocer, April 22, p40).
As consultants working with global consumer products clients, we have found many organisations falling into the trap of running fast, expending a lot of energy, yet losing the category management race.
David Taylor's comment that brands should "help customers navigate" has never been more true. However, the increasing proliferation of sub-brands has made it difficult for customers to evaluate new products against their existing notions of what the overall brand stands for. Our experience with clients has shown they may as well invest their energies in developing new brands or re-energising old ones.
For example, General Mills, the owner of brands such as Green Giant and Häagen-Dazs, is now investing in Nature Valley, seeking to respond to health trends. This would not be appropriate for a brand such as Häagen-Dazs; the need satisfied by this purchase is self-indulgence and is not driven by health considerations.
Organisations need to ensure consumers can navigate to the product they want with minimum confusion, thereby eliminating the risk. Central to this is effective decision-making,