‘You marketing types are obsessed with multi-attribute branding – Single Action doesn’t exist anymore.’ He laughed
‘A Mobile phone that serves as a camera and mp3 player too. Mosquito repellent that also serves as a room freshner. Toothpaste that not only gives you good breadth and great smile but also protects your teeth from decay, gums from bleeding and whole lot of other things, at least so the ad claims! I dread the day I would pick up a toothpaste which also claims to be shaving cream!’ He pointed out.
I can’t disagree with what he said, but I don’t blame marketers for this multi-attribute branding either. Consumers are constantly seeking value and novelty in everything they buy, use or get exposed to. Even if it’s something as trivial as toothpaste.
For instance, if jeans had continued to remain shop floor workers’ clothes (practical clothing), none of us would be interested in them. Levis and its competitors would have long shut shop. Their decision to reinvent themselves time and again for fashion conscientious youth has kept them alive and kicking. So now we have not one but many pairs of jeans that are not only practical but also fashionable, makes you look thin and have oodles of attitude to them.
That’s what they did to our good old toothpaste as well – They decided sparkling white teeth was not good enough, so they converted it into an orahealer – an answer to any problem remotely related to your mouth be it teeth, gums or tongue.
So is there no market for specialty products? You can no longer go to the store and pick up a tape recorder, you get 10 Disc changer, a VCD/DVD player and a home theatre thrown in, all for a few thousands more. Oh yeah! It may or may not have a slot for a tape. Products that didn’t innovate ceased to exist – Pagers were out before they were in, transistors although lasted long went out with a whimper. Sadly no one ever missed it. (Except my grandmother if she counts)
There is a flip side to it. Many strong brands went down under when they tried their hands at multi-attribute branding.
Lifebouy soap, an inexpensive and reliable soap that removed the grime and dust suddenly became the family soap that offered the same protection with a gentler wash and cure for acne. (Really now a new colour and packaging can con very few)
Dettol a germ fighter suddenly went to become a germi-check formula for you body – with their soap and body wash. The thought hardly sounds pampering and that’s what a body wash is supposed to do!
This explains that specialities do exist. iPod for instance, revolutionised the portable music industry. Dettol should continue to be a germ fighter and launch a new line of products accordingly and defend its leadership position from a whole lot of other me too products instead of trying to do a whole more and defeat its sole purpose of existence.
The thought of using 2 different toothpastes to protect my teeth and 3 different solutions to protect my eyes sounds so horribly tedious. I would rather stick to a product that offers me more for less.
So what’s all the gung-ho behind multi-attribute branding? Well for one it addresses the needs of many pockets of consumers and it’s sure to work with a few if not with all. Exclusivity has its own charm so large corporates should think before hastily jumping into the bandwagon of multi-attribute branding even though it might seem to have the promise of green.