Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brand Me, Brand You and the Decline of New Products

In the days before all the self-promotion brand me and brand you gurus marketers were far more curious; and new products frequently topped half a billion in sales in their first year. Then came the rise of brand me and brand you; brought to you by all the self-promotion gurus who made killings while the companies in which all the mes and yous worked saw declines in new business. As McKinsey reports, CPG execs [still] wonder where new growth will come from. The rise of the MEs was about the time everyone at companies like General Motors replaced the title on their business card with a new title that read, "Knower of all things." Hence systems were devised in companies like General Motors that deflected all responsibility away from individuals. You couldn't put your thumb on anyone for being responsible for anything. Thus began the commoditization of syndicated knowledge. Let's hire the people who tell us the things we already know rather than the people who can tell us things we don't know. What I already know is just easier to manage. We're doing fine. Hell, even at the end General Motors still owned 20% of the market. Hell, nothing to worry about here. Even in failure we have a way to convince ourselves, the brand MEs that GM's stunning failure is a success. The bar for excellence has dropped so low we can go to the head of the class just by showing up...or keeping some dealerships open. Forget Bruce Almighty. It's GM Almighty. Failure is the new black. And that's what the rise of brand ME or Brand You has brought us. Anyway, with the rise of brand me and the decline in outward looking forward thinking the impact of new products began to dwindle. Hell, they've damn faded, and the guys running the companies are being conned by a new nemesis called social marketing. Now we're touting the success of new products brought to us by a new messenger: social media. Companies like P&G and Del Monte Pet Products have new products generated by social media. The "community" created it. I took no risks. Yet none of the growth topped $100 million and not one social media product will top this year's or next year's top 10 most successful new products. Guaranteed. In 2008 the most successful new product anyone launched was Gatorade G2 at $159 million. The least successful new product I've ever conceived working with those pre-ME curious execs was Baked Lays. It sold $310 million in its first 10 months. I'm fairely safe in my contention that Del Monte's Breakfast Snacks for Pets will not move the needle past $60 million. But that won't stop others from following suit. Just no original thinking left in those MEs and YOUs. That's the greatest risk to new products. Now I'm not pooh, poohing new channels for product development but without doping people's thoughts with creativity before they create something you're just not going to get that $400+ million winner that comes from creating new knowledge that's never previously existed to be perceived, mapped or measured.


Zaki said...

thanks for inspiring article


Geno Church said...

So glad I stumbled onto your blog… wicked insight a fresh perspective.

Damn, you hit it on the head. It's a sad day where a creative or should I say marketing shop crowd sources for it's own identity. It sounds all cool and buzz worthy but IMO it's lazy.