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VIth Sense: Google's Influence on Brands

Posted by Tim Berney

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womens-heels.jpgA basic fundamental of a paid search (pay-per-click) campaign involves the decision of whether or not to buy branded search terms. If you are Valentino and selling your shoes online, you might not need to purchase the term Valentino because your website will likely show up first in organic rankings anyway. The Amazons of the world have clouded this issue to some extent. They (and their suppliers) take those generic search terms and often push the consumer toward products with no brand awareness, relevance, or equity. That search for ‘colorful high heels’ on e-commerce websites could have the shopper viewing shoes from across the world with price points at a fraction of the designer brands. And, that suits some shoppers just fine apparently. As long as those heels are the right color, they go in the shopping cart.

This new shopping trend has led some marketers to question the value of a brand. If one can produce a generic product and convince enough outlets (whether physical or online) to carry it, leading to respectable sales, why invest in a brand?

But, this actually isn’t a new shopping trend. There have always been people who value the utility of a product over the reputation, status or quality of a well-known brand. They are value shoppers who consider price to be first in that value equation. What is new is the distribution channel, which comes with a lot of data allowing the e-commerce site to determine the profitability, among other important factors, of developing a relationship with that ‘non-brand.’ They know a lot more than yesterday’s discount store who had no reason to report back up the channel how and when individual products were selling. They just wanted to get a return on that inventory investment.

Here's the point: If these ‘non-brand’ products start to gain a reputation for their value, quality or unique attributes, they then become desired. As a BRAND. Take Target's "Archer Farms" products for instance. People love them. It's a house brand similar to Walmart's Great Value or Equate, but the perceived value is so high, people go out of their way to Target - just so they can purchase that brand. Which wasn't really a brand to begin with, but is now.  

Similarly, let's say I start an online company called Timmy Shoes. The shoes are on trend, well made, and don't cost an arm and a leg - just a good value for the dollar. Amazon gives them additional support becuse they get a cut of my sales. Soon, fashionable women become aware of Timmy Shoes! They know where they are being sold, what reviews they are getting and who else is wearing them. And, eventually, this popular ‘non-brand’ INDEED becomes a brand that has worth well beyond the dyed leather and stitching. It might still be a value brand, but now I've got myself a bona fide, full-fledged label that customers will search for by name.

The question becomes, will I pay Google for that branded search term?

The VIth Sense Marketing Strategy
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