Mark Ritson on Branding: Have You Got the Gen X Factor?

Article excerpt

There is a fine line separating too many brands from too few. If companies are lazy with the brand shears they end up with the marketing confusion and poor economies of brand exemplified by General Motors and its overgrown brand architecture. In contrast, if firms are too conservative with brand creation and acquisition, they end up with the risk-averse culture and limited market penetration illustrated by Kodak.

The secret is to be somewhere in the middle. The fewer the brands, the better, but you have to make sure there are enough to target all the valuable segments in the market. So it is always interesting when a savvy company such as Hyatt decides to create a new brand. The hotel operator recently announced it would launch a hotel chain named Andaz in September. Personally, I would have followed in GE Life's footsteps (Marketing, 18 April) and named the brand 'Tonight'. Alas, this time the Indians have triumphed: the name means 'personal style' in Hindustani.

Andaz's parent company, Global Hyatt Corporation, is no stranger to brand creation. The firm already owns and operates seven distinct hotel brands. But on closer inspection, these existing brands - Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Resorts, Hyatt, Hyatt Place and Hyatt Summerfield Suites - are all clearly aligned as sub-brands of the parent. Andaz, in contrast, will take only a shadow endorsement from the Hyatt brand and will be very different from its portfolio brethren.

Hyatt is positioning Andaz as an unpretentious upscale brand that offers 'casual elegance' and 'local identity'. Hyatt chief executive Mark Hoplamazian said in a statement that Hyatt's customer base was looking for fresh, uncomplicated luxury that is timeless and gimmick-free. 'Our launch of Andaz is based on demand expressed by both consumers and developers for a product and experience that they have not found within the industry,' he said.

Andaz is squarely aimed at the maturing Generation X market. Gen X'ers are now evolving from their grungy 20th-century adolescence and rapidly becoming the major market segment for business travel. Like all great demographic segments, they demand alternative brands to those patronised by their parents - the baby boomers - especially when these boomers continue to stay in these hotels into their retirement. It is a classic dynamic targeting problem - you can't have the fathers and the sons staying at the same place. …

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