Friday, 12 August 2011


However hard you try, however well-honed your target audience description may be, brands often get hi-jacked by groups way outside the "intended" users.

I expect most whiskies are a case in point. Despite the many descriptions there are floating around of dynamic, cosmopolitan, happening, sporty 30-somethings, the reality is that most of the consumption comes from the over 60s.

It happened to Burberry a few years ago, in the UK, when the formerly exclusive fashion label with its trademark tartan became an essential part of chav uniform.

And this week, we've heard that, whoever the thugs are co-ordinating the riots (and there seems to be a great deal of discrepancy in the reporting), they are using BlackBerry, specifically the messenger service, as their chosen communication system.

I suspect, in BlackBerry's case, the dust will settle and not too much of it will stick - somehow it is not quite such a visible brand as Burberry.

It's strange that it works both ways. For every "exclusive or professional" brand that ends up in the hands of the rabble, there is at least one brand that positions itself at the young rebels and outsiders but is lapped up by the middle-aged mainstream. Just look at Levi's and Harley Davidson.

Although some of that is the difference between targeting and positioning.

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