Magazine article Marketing

'Lookalikes' Can Go Further on a Little Difference

Magazine article Marketing

'Lookalikes' Can Go Further on a Little Difference

Article excerpt

If, as expected, Tony Blair wins today's little scrap, it will demonstrate that imitation may not be the sincerest form of flattery, but it works.

New Labour hasn't so much stolen Tory clothes as ransacked the wardrobe, moved into the house and changed the locks. The ultimate triumph of the lookalike brand.

In the marginally less barmy world of marketing, the opposite has happened: Sainsbury's is climbing down and is to radically redesign its own-label products (Marketing, April 24).

The news has been greeted with relief by brand owners. Sainsbury's move, a conspicuous change of policy, will doubtless be marked down by manufacturers as a long overdue victory in what they saw as a one-sided war. They may wonder whether other grocery chains will follow suit. If they do, it will be game set and match to the brands.

But will it? Sample of one: I can't honestly say I find it tremendously difficult to tell brands from own-label in the shops. Some lines may appear to be really quite similar in look, shape or colour. But little differences count for a lot and regular supermarket shoppers, beadier-eyed than I, surely aren't taken in. There has been remarkably little - if any - serious evidence of consumer confusion in stores. In any case, it is almost impossible to prove. So it's hard to see how strikingly different pack designs will help to eliminate confusion if there wasn't any in the first place.

Brand owners were on firmer ground with a point of principle: mimicking the packaging of brands is simply not acceptable behaviour since it is the brands that take most of the risks and carry most of the development and promotional costs. …

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