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Stranger in a Brand Land

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: January 2, 2012, from the December 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

In State of Packaging 2011, Nathalie Nowak, director of marketing and innovation, Rexam Personal Care Division, notes that “nomadism” is one of the five key marketplace trends the company identified. It’s our “on-the-go lifestyle.” It’s evident how this has impacted packaging, with smaller sizes required to pass security at airports, but I got to thinking about how this has also impacted brands and what brands mean in today’s consumers’ lives.

Early autumn is a heavy travel time for me, and during my recent week traveling across the U.K., sales colleague Jane Evison and I stopped in an upscale drug/grocery market to see what was being retailed and how. I was actually a bit startled at how comforting it was to see familiar brands among all the unfamiliar products. The familiar brands weren’t even ones I used, and I didn’t outwardly feel biased against the English brands on display—in fact, I was enthused to see that which was new to me. But my reaction did personally emphasize that branding is a never ending effort. Introducing new brands, cutting through the clutter on shelves with established brands, breaking into to new markets, and turning the new and the foreign into the familiar are only the first steps in building long-term, deep connections with consumers.