There have been about 100 truly original products that have been launched in the last 10 years. The rest of them have been variations of the same. Tons of them. We’re in danger of product overload.

We’re being constantly brand bombed everywhere we look. On Facebook. On the NY Times iPhone app. On radio. TV. Internet. Magazines. Newspapers. Billboards. Buy this, buy that, you simply have to try this, you can’t live without that. There is so much information and messages that it’s hard to know the truly innovative products from the average. Brand building is more crucial today than ever.

Every brand wants staying power. It wants to be your number one choice every time, no question. But just being a recognisable name, that’s been around for years, isn’t the clincher that makes us part with our dollars anymore. And when brands forget this, it can be catastrophic.

Just look at Summers Eve. Makers of the most intimate of feminine products, you’d think they’d know their customers minds intimately too. So when they produced a new ad last year that appeared to suggest that feminine personal hygiene was the key to getting promoted at work, it’s no surprise that there was a backlash from outraged women everywhere.

The brand quickly and publicly admitted its error – it was way out of touch with its customers but not prepared to take the risks needed to modernise. So brand bosses are now forming a new strategy and a Cultural Movement of their very own, the core of which is for the brand to be ‘an active leader on the issues that matter to women’.

To ensure their Cultural Movement appeals, in recent months, Summers Eve has embarked on what it has called a ‘multimarket tour,’ talking to hundreds of women across the country via forums and focus groups, and for the first time, really listening to their needs.

The whole aim of course is to reinvent the brand, to turn it into a women’s champion. The actual products are an aside, which is what’s needed when you’re dealing with a purchase that is so intimately personal. Finally, Summers Eve has realised that women won’t want to talk about that. And of course, it works well with a Movement strategy – because the golden rule is to tap into people’s passions without talking about the products themselves.

In July, the brand will relaunch itself, with the promise that every move forward from now will be entirely customer driven. Whether women will buy into this new issues-led ‘we’re your voice’ Cultural Movement depends on how much Summers Eve really has listened. Otherwise it just won’t wash.

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Original Post: http://scottgoodson.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/02/who-cares-what-you-think.html

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