Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Stay under 30% or You're a Target

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Stay under 30% or You're a Target

Article excerpt

Last weekend 14 Tesco stores closed their doors following bomb threats. No culprit has yet emerged but speculation has grown about their motives. An initial suggestion that Tesco was being targeted by religious extremists was immediately rejected by police. Several national newspapers then suggested a link to animal liberation and pointed out that Saturday was a national day of action against Tesco by several animal rights groups.

While I do not know the identities or motivations of those who made the threats, I can provide some insight into why Tesco was targeted rather than Sainsbury's or Waitrose. It was almost certainly not down to ethical or religious reasons, but rather a number - specifically, a proportion: 31.3%.

To understand this numerical significance, we have to look back 25 years. On 29 September 1982 Adam Janus, a 27-year-old postman from Arlington Heights, Illinois, dropped dead unexpectedly. Adam's family gathered to discuss funeral arrangements. His 25-year old brother Stanley and his 19-year-old wife, Theresa, were both suffering from headaches. Stanley found a bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol in Adam's kitchen; within minutes he and Theresa were dead.

Chicago police realised that all three victims had been poisoned Eventually seven people died in what became known as the 'Tylenol murders'. Investigators concluded that the culprit, who was never caught, had visited various stores in Chicago and added cyanide tablets to bottles of Tylenol before returning them to the shelf. Why Tylenol? In 1982 it was the leading pain-relief brand in the US with a 35% market share.

New York, 1997. A lesbian activist group had grown frustrated with the dominant heterosexual images used to sell sportswear. The major brands appeared to be content to profit from their lesbian customers but unhappy to represent or recognise this patronage in their advertising. One lesbian group took matters into their own hands. Taking the Nike logo and replacing the 'N' with a 'D' it created, in its own words, 'an alternative lesbian brand'. Hundreds of T-shirts carrying the logo were sold at gay pride events. Why was Nike selected from all the potential sportswear brands? At the time, it had a 32.8% share of the US apparel market. …

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