I find it sad when my favorite or nostalgic brands disappear from the market. It happens a lot these days as technology and complicated consumer buying habits and behavior change. For me the death of a brand was always full of fascination and drove my interest into becoming a marketeer. Brands were powerful and living entities to me. And of of course all things come to end (even brands) eventually. But why do brands die? This question was rekindled when I noticed an article the other night that reported the 10 Brands That Will Disappear in 2012 by Douglas McIntyre, 24/7 Wall St. Here is the list:
- Sony Pictures
- American Apparel
- Sony Ericsson
- Kellogg’s Corn Pops
- Soap Opera Digest
At first glance when you look at the list you may not be surprised. Maybe that’s because you have not purchased the product(s) form the companies/brands recently. Or perhaps you have read story after story about the brand’s (and therein company) demise. When I viewed the list I saw a common theme: None of the brands had been successful at transforming themselves to answer competitive, market and/or end users ever changing landscape. Over my tenure this single observation has been a common theme of significant market failures. You would think avoiding such failures would be easy enough. However the most difficult thing to do for people and a management team is accepting that their corporate direction needs to change based on external variables. Most do not embrace change well let alone the ability to address the things that require an evolution in thought, approach and go-to-market application.
As an example Nokia (on the list above) was the market leader at one time commanding a 40% or more leadership position in the handset business. They were the caretaker of the handset business and helped navigate the direction of mobile endpoints for themselves, their competitors and operators. If you wanted something done in the handset business from go-to-market models to standards, Nokia had to be involved. The company had a significant power position in the industry. However, one competitor rocked the mobile landscape and leveraged end-user pent-up demand for a single device that was an Internet browsing device, media player and e-mail device—and it was a phone too. Obviously I am referring to Apple and the revolutionary iPhone. That single device cracked the armor and with similar competitors (specifically Android OS based) Nokia was taken down. Nokia failed to transform itself – from device to go-to-market model – to effectively compete with the new handset onslaught. Nokia’s “iPhone” was the N810. The N810 was a clunky over sized smartphone. It lack everything the iPhone had and was. The critical mistake for Nokia was recognizing the migration of users’ needs from a phone to an all-encompassing device that supported e-mail, Internet browsing and mot importantly media content. Apple was able to leverage their iPod leadership and offer that perfect device (at the time). This was the beginning of the end for Nokia.