I know: you’ve been thinking, ‘Where is the good stuff?’ The last few days I’ve blogged about things I’ve read, editorializing and ranting.
In fact, I did spot a post at This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics, probably not the longest title in the blogosphere, but certainly the longest among my blogroll. Grant McCracken discusses Birkenstock, and how the brand is remaining authentic by focusing on existing customers rather than expand (“inauthentically”?) into new ones where its message might be diluted.
So far so good. The last thing you want is a brand to pretend it is something that it is not. It would be like asking Sylvester Stallone to take on a romantic role. (However, I vote the man does comedy: if Twins II were to be made, and the original actors are unavailable, how about Sly and Bob Hoskins?)
I agree totally with Grant and add one more thought. Birkenstock, and other brands which have the level of following that it does, does another thing well: it blurs where its staff ends and its customer base begins. The best customers are strong advocates, probably as strong as any ofﬁcial marketing activity approved by the company. They come back time and time again to the product. Others are encouraged to adopt it.
Thus, you have a brand that actually gets new customers without Birkenstock expanding into new markets consciously. New customers think, ‘My goodness, I don’t have that level of engagement with my existing shoe brand. This looks good.’ And there you have the secret of branding in the 21st century: customer engagement.
It works for some things. FMCG is probably an area where this wouldn’t work as effectively, at least not without some cultural shift: whatever happened to the ‘new generation’ weaned on Pepsi-Cola? Did their kids or even younger siblings follow suit after this generation saw all those Michael Jackson or Michael J. Fox ads? No. The marketing department and customer base were separated. How about involving them next time in developing a new ﬂavour and seeing if they can be engaged again?
I won’t be switching though. I have the required level of engagement with my current brand, Dayton Boots of Vancouver, where I have talked up the company like crazy. Last month a story was partly devoted to my shoes, so that brieﬂy they were better known than me. I am Dayton’s advocate and unofﬁcial marketing department.
Del.icio.us tags: brand | branding | Birkenstock | Dayton | consumer advocate | marketing | authenticity Posted by Jack Yan, 23:44
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