Sunday, August 28, 2016

How David is Kicking Goliath's Ass - Or what micro brands could teach the big dogs

Now you might recall back in the early days of Tempus Fugit I waxed lyrical as to the difference between real brands and "vanity" or "dentist" brands.  My point being that there was a clear difference between what a real brand did and what a "hobbyist" did.  Well, I am about to take almost all of that back, with the caveat that there is indeed a difference between what a big brand does vs. what a hobbyist does - but perhaps not in the manner that you might think.

Over the past few years there have been an overwhelming number of watch start-ups out there vying for our attention via Facebook, Kickstarter and just about every other means of social media engagement.  In doing some research for a few clients, I got to 85 and had to quit because the number of micro brands that I had not yet listed far exceeded the 85 that I already had committed to my Excel spreadsheet.  It is safe to say that there will be no shortage of micro brand start ups in the foreseeable future.

In an interesting parallel, the number of "big boy" brands that are out there has begun to stagnate, and we will, I am fairly certain, see some unhappy "obituary" announcements in the coming months.  While it is a bit of a necessity to adjust the sails of your boat to accommodate the prevailing winds, many of the bigger brands are still sailing along as if the winds are wrong, and only they are right, and they are getting closer to the rocks every day.

What the micro brands demonstrate loud and clear is perhaps the most important idea that the other "established" brands don't seem to understand:

Connecting to your customer is fundamental.  

This is, believe it or not, the single biggest take away from the explosions of micro brands.  Think about it a minute, how is it that someone from outside of the industry, working (usually) completely alone can harness a few hundred strangers from out in the cold to get excited about a watch that doesn't yet exist, from a brand that (at least in the beginning) is nothing more than hope and optimism?

And I'm sure that the big brands are thinking who cares?  Small numbers!  Well, If I just go by some basic presumptions:

Let's, for the purposes of argument, assume that the total number of active micro brands out there is 100.  And again, just spit-balling here, put the number of units sold annually at 100 each.  So now that you have done the math, it is safe to assume that is a pretty good number.

And keep in mind that these folks are doing this without multiple layers of VPs, directors, managers, staffers and interns.  Several brands would kill to get 10,000 new customers, and they have more resources than can be imagined.  Yet they are still unable to focus on the most important thing that drives the possible growth of their business - connecting with past, current and future customers.

Let's see if any of the bigger brands are paying attention, or if they are asleep at the switch.

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