Monday, April 1, 2013

What’s in a brand?

It’s ironic when you think of it, that a brand marketer constantly questions the value of a brand. On paper I understand that the exclusivity associated with a brand allows it to charge the customer a mark up on the logical price of the product. But the rationalist in me has issues when this mark up goes beyond a certain limit.

Yes, I do buy clothes of certain brands. But I usually do that because of the quality of the product and the styling. When the mark up is upto around 50%, I can find myself justifying it. The problem arises when the brand charges a price in multiples of what the product should be worth.

Let me illustrate. Whoever knows me, knows I am not a bag person. For the life of me, I can not carry a bag, fancy brand or not. You will always see me with my wallet in hand, phone and car keys in my pocket. Yet, I find it strange when the bags people carry around me cost close to what a small car does! When I was growing up, owning a pair of Nike or Reebok shoes was the epitome of cool in school. So when I started earning, I made sure that the shoes I bought always had a fancy enough brand name. But now when I walk into a store and see the sport shoes costing upwards of Rs.6000, I find myself questioning whether the world of Bata and Liberty really is that bad. Just because I can afford it, does it justify spending this amount if I can find a better alternative?

The crux of the issue came to light with mobile phones. In college, I and my best friend shared a phone. My first phone was the candybar Nokia entry level. Once I started earning, I realised that like haircuts, I loved the concept of an interesting phone. Thus, I would experiment with the wackiest phones. I mean it. I am the only person I know who actually owned a Phillips phone (though it was this awesome flip model in indigo blue). I’ve used phones made by Alcatel, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Phillips and Sony Ericson (it was orange and had to be twisted to be opened).

But fancier phones came in the market, the price range also expanded. And I found myself the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S. It may have cost me half of what the Husband’s iPhone cost him, yet for a phone the price just seemed outrageous. What was worse was that I had trouble with the phone from the day I bought it. Yet I kept justifying it to myself and kept trying to make it last longer, because of what I had spent on it.
But this is where it ends. The world of mobile phones has to wake up to the reality that there are players in the market who are making products as good as the market leaders for a fraction of the price. As of yesterday, I am the proud owner of an iball Andi 4.5. You have to see the phone to believe it. 1gb RAM, 8MP camera, Android 4.0, 3G, Dual sim and more. The interface is smooth and clean and voice quality is fantastic. I have my fingers crossed to see how it lasts me but for now, I’m glad I got out of the vicious circle. 

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