Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Why Brands Are at a Premium

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Why Brands Are at a Premium

Article excerpt

Sometimes big brands surprise you. Take Burger King, for example - its sudden aspiration for luxury led it to declare plans to launch the world's most expensive burger, featuring Kobe beef and an pounds 85 price tag, as revealed by Marketing last week.

Burger fans aren't the only ones treating themselves to a slice of luxury. Despite pet numbers being almost flat in the UK in 2008, the pet care and pet food categories continue to show robust growth as owners treat their pets like humans. High-priced, luxury pet foods have driven up prices, even if the amounts being bought remain the same.

It is part of the ongoing trend known as premiumisation. Yes, it's an ugly word, but so are most of the key concepts in marketing. Think how stupid we marketers sound when talking about positioning, segmentation or portfolio management. Premiumisation is the topic of the year and marketers need to grasp its significant strategic opportunities.

The concept of premiumisation originated in the drinks business about five years ago. It refers to the practice of introducing a brand or repositioning an existing one as premium or luxury in a mature category Diageo, for example, has a series of brands such as Tanqueray Ten and Don Julio Tequila designed to premiumise their offering in some of their biggest categories. The term is so well entrenched in the wine and spirits business it even recruits premiumisation executives. Smirnoff, for example, is currently seeking a premiumisation manager, who will work under the premiumisation director, to drive Smirnoff Black into a premium position in the vodka category.

There are many reasons for the sudden rise of premiumisation. British consumers are time-poor and cash-rich, and, as a result, they are more comfortable paying higher prices if the exclusivity and extra value is there. On the manufacturer side, we are finally entering an era of mass maturity. Most categories, especially in food and beverages, are now established. With no apparent direction left or right into new product areas, many marketers are attempting to move up instead. Higher prices reduces significantly the need to sell in huge numbers.

Then there are private-labels. As British private-labels have grown in quality and popularity, they have forced brands to premiumise to find a high watermark where the rising tide of store brands won't affect them. …

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