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Digested Read: How (Not) To Plan, Section 2.

Product, Price, Place!


Marketers tend to focus overly much on Promotion, ignoring other three Ps.

2.1 Brands Can(not) Live Forever

"Brands don't have life cycles," a theory which the longevity of Heinz, Kellogg's, and Hovis apparently support.

"If there is any 'life cycle,' it's a brand management cycle."

Phase 1: Brand launch with strong marketing support and ROI.

Phase 2: Sales plateau – marketing needs to maintain and depend the brand and gets less management attention; budgets are cut.

Phase 3: The cuts lead to declining sales; brand owners retaliate with price promotions which deliver short-term sales but damage the brand image (further affecting sales).

The Boston Matrix of Cash Cows and Stars should be applied to categories, not brands.


  • "Aim for brand immortality"

  • Always invest in continuous advertising [Comment: A recurrent theme]

  • Share and Voice and Share of Market can help you estimate how much you need to spend to stand still

  • Econometrics and regional testing can show how stopping advertising could affect your brand

  • Don't set budgets based on sales

  • When marketing budgets are cut, sales will go down [Comment: Empirical evidence?] – which gives competitors space to move in (SO: "if a competitor cut their budgets, seize the opportunity to deal them a killer blow" [Comment: Is this a good spend of budget if they're already dying?])

  • If you're dealing with a declining category, change how the category is use or shift your brand – but if your brand's declining in the healthy category, you need to change your approach.

2.2 How (Not) To Manage Your Portfolio

Brands often "innovate" needlessly (e.g. by launching new products) so that they have something new to say – but this only works for genuinely groundbreaking products. "Most new products fail," and in the worst cases brands neglect core products to focus on "pseudo-innovation."

When talking about your successful products, focus on emotional connection – how people feel about this. Fosters did this (2014 IPA Grand Prix Winner) – rather than saying something new about the beer, they developed "funny TV ads featuring likeable Australian lads," delivering "stunning" sales results by focusing "on how young blokes felt about the brand."


  • Only groundbreaking innovation is effective, so don't advertise "trivial" NPD – focus on your core products for which volumes will tend to be bigger

  • Groundbreaking innovation won't need much advertising (viz. Amazon, Google, Uber) – this is also why advertising becomes more essential as brands mature [Comment: another point about why advertising is so important]

  • Overhauling existing core products (squeezy ketchup bottles) can also be effective

  • "Focus NPD support on 'activation,' close to the point of purchase" (posters outside supermarkets; point-of-sale activity)

  • "Ads selling the core tend also to sell new products"

  • When selling core products, "focus on the needs and feelings at the heart of the category"

Case study - Marmite, 1970s onwards

Marmite, despite little innovation, continued to invest in advertising. The Love / Hate campaign of 1995 helped spurn tremendous core growth. The 2006 innovation – squeezy Marmite bottles – also performed well ("Old Product Development").


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