Where this approach seems to work best are where three things are happening:
- The market you’re in is intensely competitive
- There are many available substitutes and core product performance is commoditized
- Where loyalty is declining, and meaningful differentiation through traditional means is harder and harder to achieve
By imbuing the marketing of the brand with an additional layer of utility, you bring the product and the marketing of the product together in a way that has not previously been possible. Arguably, Pepsi Refresh is another example where a new form of emotional differentiation is being created within an intensely competitive environment.
So what is the value and who should be doing this?
I think the value, very simply, is in a new ability to make the core product more desirable than that of a competitor. Essentially by creating an additional layer of customer focused usefulness within the brand that is designed to complement and enhance the utility of the product (rather than the brand disconnecting from the product as sometimes happens).
Who should be doing this? Probably any marketer whose category dynamics are intensely competitive, increasingly commoditized and where loyalty and meaningful brand differentiation are either in decline or not where they need to be.
With so many categories facing exactly these challenges, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see an explosion of marketing products in 2011. Some of which might even become amazingly successful in their own right.