Special Session Summary Views From ACRoss the Bridge: Industry Perspectives on Brand Equity Management

Akshay R. Rao, University of Minnesota
[ to cite ]:
Akshay R. Rao (1996) ,"Special Session Summary Views From ACRoss the Bridge: Industry Perspectives on Brand Equity Management", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr., Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 12.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, 1996      Page 12

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

VIEWS FROM ACROSS THE BRIDGE: INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES ON BRAND EQUITY MANAGEMENT

Akshay R. Rao, University of Minnesota

The term brand equity has come to be associated with some positive element of a brand name. In this session, a variety of brand equity management issues that practitioners face were highlighted. Four premier Minneapolis/St. Paul based Fortune 100 firms were represented in this set of presentations. The four presentations are summarized next.

1. "A Rose By Another Name: The Transformation of IDS into American Express Financial Advisors".

Mr. Peter Lefferts, American Express Financial Advisors spoke first. In his comments, he described how American Express Financial Advisors Inc. (formerly "IDS Financial Services") undertook a significant corporate transformation. This very successful company changed its name just as it completed its 100th year as IDS. Despite the fact that current customers were uncomfortable with the American Express name, a significant proportion of prospective customers felt that the American Express name added credibility, and thus the decision was made to change the name. Mr. Lefferts indicated that, based on the available evidence, the name change had been a successful strategic move.

2. "Is it a bird, is it a plane...? Measurement Issues in Brand Equity Research."

Ms. Vivian Milroy, General Mills focussed her talk on measurement issues. She noted that the only thing clear about brand equity is that the meaning of the term is not at all clear. Instead of accepting this complexity, definitions and measurements have been oversimplified. Tests of new product ideas have focuses on breadth of appeal instead of differentiated imagery associated with the new product. When testing offerings against the competition, reliance has been placed on blind comparisons, ignoring the impact of imagery on consumer preference. When analyzing the impact of market spending, the focus has been on short term volume gains rather than the long term impact on the health of the brand. Even when tracking attitude change, there has been a failure to recognize changes in the consumer's definitions of attributes such as "convenience", thus ignoring the possibility that changes in preference occur even though brand image has stayed constant. Ms. Milroy suggested that measurement should focus as much, if not more, on what the brand could be, rather than what it currently is.

3. "What's In a Nom: Managing Global Brand Families at 3M."

Mr. Douglas Rowen, 3M was the third speaker and addressed issues and challenges related to managing a global family of brands which span 60,000 products in over 150 countries. 3M's brand family covers more than 20 major industries from consumer products to electronics and health care products. With more than 50% of sales coming from outside the United States, maximizing the benefit of a global brand family is an increasingly complex task. Issues range from adjusting for local differences, global measurement and communication vehicles, and trademark selection.

4. "Dough in the doughboy: Leveraging Equity in Visual Symbols at Pillsbury-Grand Metropolitan"

Mr. Steve Zuber, Pillsbury-Grand Metropolitan was the final speaker and emphasized that the core of Grand Metropolitan's food business is the Pillsbury company, comprising four major American brands: Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen Dazs and Burger King. All these brands have substantial volume and profitability, and the attempt has been to build them into global "megabrands". In the case of Pillsbury, the most enduring symbol of the brand is the doughboy, followed by the Green Giant and the Little Sprout. His presentation focussed on how Pillsbury has attempted to use evidence that these are more than animated characters, but in fact are useful vehicles for establishing Pillsbury brands with new consumers worldwide.

Finally, Deborah Roedder John summarized the comments of the speakers, identified emergent themes, and lead a discussion that included several interesting and provocative questions from the audience.

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