Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Marketing Society - the Past Is a Great Teacher

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Marketing Society - the Past Is a Great Teacher

Article excerpt

I recently attended a marketing event, where I met someone who had worked for the confectionery company that had been my first client when I started working in advertising 20 years ago.

We began talking about new product development and he began to tell me about a brand the company had tested with spectacular results. Sales were so impressive that it had invested in a new factory, at vast expense, to roll out the brand. However, sales of the product stalled unexpectedly, the brand was withdrawn and a costly factory was left standing idle.

The story interested me because exactly the same thing happened when I worked on the company's account. We had launched a countline brand in Tyne Tees. Sales were beyond everyone's wildest dreams, leaving Mars bars in its wake. A factory was planned and the marketing team began to plot what to spend their bonuses on. Suddenly, however, the brand was in freefall. It seemed plenty of people wanted to try it, but few liked it enough to carry on the experiment. A year later and the brand was history.

But history is supposed to teach us, to allow us to learn from our mistakes. A simple A4 synopsis kept on file would have saved this company millions by prompting it to interrogate the sales profile, look at repurchase patterns, set up a consumer panel and so on. Arguably, this should have been done anyway, but it wasn't.

Expecting a company to keep archives for 20 years may be optimistic, but it struck me that very few firms I work with keep proper records. …

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