Slaves to the Brand

I’m not sure why, but it seems that I’ve been involved in quite a number of conversations about brands in the last few weeks. Marketing is a big part of what I do, including writing a web site, and there’s almost nothing more important to a marketing professional than branding. Many marketing people spend a lot of time thinking about branding and brand loyalty. It’s one thing to get people to buy a product once, the big challenge is making sure that when it comes to buying something to drink, a watch, clothes or whatever, your brand is the one the consumer wants.

The same is true all over the world, but I’ve long noticed that Thais can be real slaves to brands. Creating brand loyalty usually takes more than just a lot of advertising, but for Thais it often seems that “as seen on TV” is good enough. Quality, taste, reliability, cost, fit-for-purpose, none of that seems to matter very much to Thais.

In some cases, it’s just about what the advertising says the brand is supposed to represent. Nothing says you’re rich – and clueless – quite like a Rolex on the wrist. It doesn’t matter that there are lots of other watch brands that are just as good, if not better. There are brands that are even more expensive, but Thais wear a Rolex because everybody knows that you must be rich if you own one.

Thais’ brand loyalty is less understandable when it comes to commodity products where brand has very little to do with quality. Take personal computers for example. Thais will choose a name brand like IBM, even though it’s more expensive than a no-name PC, because it must be “better”. It makes me wonder what Lenovo is going to do once they have to stop using the IBM name. I bet if you had the exact same computer with two different brand names, Lenovo and IBM, most Thais would choose the IBM computer, even it it was more expensive, because “it must be better” if it has the IBM badge on it.

Posted in Life in Thailand