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Straight Talk with Nigel Hollis

Nigel Hollis Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst, Millward Brown

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Do attitudes to brands swerve too?

In a recent New York Times article, Robert Jay Lifton refers to Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt’s use the word “swerve” to describe an unforeseen change in society’s attitudes toward a particular subject. The article got me thinking that attitudes to brands swerve too. The initial change is minimal but soon attitudes have changed dramatically; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

A swerve, Lifton suggests, relies on a coalescence of three factors: experience, economics and ethics. Lifton suggests that American attitudes to climate change are in the process of swerving from denial to acceptance (and hopefully action).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Make a difference: ask your kids to make a video

No, this is not a post about some great viral campaign created to publicize a brand... at least, not yet. Instead this is a plea that you help us do something. Get our political leaders to act on climate change. How? By asking your kids and friends aged 13 to 21 to make a video, one that simply asks - Why?

The vast majority of the scientific community is in agreement that climate change is happening and that we must act now to avert disaster. However, few of us know what we can do to make a difference. Many of us feel it is an issue that our political leaders should address and yet they appear content to do nothing. Well now is your chance to help change that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Should Indian brands stay home or seek their fortune abroad?

It is official. HDFC Bank is the most valuable brand in India. The BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands Ranking was announced yesterday at an impressive event in Mumbai, which not only showcased the ranking, but offered insights into how some brands have made good in India’s hyper-competitive market.

As with the global ranking, financial services and telecom companies made a strong showing boosted by the absolute financial value of the categories in which they operate. Apart from HDFC, the top ten included Airtel, State Bank of India, ICICI, !dea, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Reliance Communications. However, Asian Paints, as well as Bajaj Auto and Hero, both manufacturers of two and three-wheeler vehicles, also made it into the top ten. Packaged Goods brands were less prominent in the ranking, but displayed strength when it came to creating an emotional connection with their customers. Brands like Colgate, Fair and Lovely, Kingfisher, Maggi and Horlicks have all created strong connections with their consumers in India.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Innovation continues to power premium brand Dyson

In Brand Premium I wrote about the success of Dyson vacuum cleaners, the creation of James Dyson whose dissatisfaction with existing products led him to develop a new form of vacuum cleaner; an innovation that led to the development of a $10 billion business. Today, James Dyson’s motivation, to create a better way of doing things, continues to push the boundaries of technology and justify the brand’s premium positioning.

In Brand Premium I noted that a strong sense of purpose is important if a brand is going to succeed, and gave Dyson as an example, stating...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Focus on your customers not your competitors

The more I explore the topic of how to command a price premium, the more I think that one of the biggest challenges to take your lead from your customer, not your competition. Too many companies seem to be fixated by what their competition are doing – particularly when it comes to pricing – and leave money on the table because their customers value their brand more than they do.

The first thing to remember when trying to build customer-value is that what your customer thinks is what matters. Not everyone values brands equally, and knowing whether your customers value your brand or not is important to your pricing strategy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Are Indian brands ready for the global challenge?

There are many strong brands in India and the launch of the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands Ranking on August 19th will identify the best of the best. Sir Martin Sorrell, Surekha Poddar and Prasun Basu will all be speaking, and my role in the launch event will be to discuss what factors turn the aspiration to become a global brand into a reality.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why most marketers fail to get an “A” grade

It is hardly new news, but a joint VEM/ITSMA Marketing Performance Management Survey finds that 85 percent of C-Level respondents are seeing increased pressure for marketers to measure marketing’s value and contribution. Worse, only 1 in 4 marketers are given an “A” grade indicating that they can identify the contribution of their programs to business success.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Exporting Buick’s success in China back home

I was sitting in the dealership, waiting for my car to be serviced, chatting with the older couple sitting next to me. The conversation turned to vehicles we had owned in the past and the woman described her old Buick as a “lovely, quality car”. As Buick’s growing sales in the U.S. demonstrate, a lot of people are feeling the same way about Buick again, in part thanks to the brand’s success in China.