Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Immersed, wrapped or trapped?

The latest theme or buzzword from Interbrand to characterise their Best Global Brands is "Iconic Moves." It's nothing to do with John Travolta, though, rather that brands today are operating in a world where "people are moving faster than businesses". I agree with some of Interbrand's issues with Brand Positioning as an idea. It does imply a couple of things that don't work so well in today's world of brands - the concept of well-defined categories as well as the notion of static rigidity. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say that "positioning is dead" - rather that brands should take the metaphor of the mobile searchlight these days instead of the lighthouse.

The king of Iconic Moves, for Interbrand is Amazon. Over the years, these include the 2005 launch of Amazon Prime, the 2007 launch of Kindle, the 2014 launch of Echo (Alexa) and the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods.

But: I wonder - why is Interbrand celebrating this stuff? Presumably because Amazon is No. 3 brand on their list, with a gob-smacking growth of +24%,  and they feel duty-bound to. But outside the impressive statistics and Iconic Moves, there are other stories.

People feeling they've been tricked or trapped into signing up for Amazon Prime.
Amazon taking a 60%+ cut, putting many small players out of business.
What used to be a super opportunity to review books turning into a annoying ratings system.
And that's before you've gone behind the scenes.

And on a personal note, I complained to amazon when a number of tacky-looking soft-porn books appeared under one of my children's books as "sponsored products related to this item." I asked for an explanation in what way these tawdry titles could be "related to" a book targeted at 9 - 12s. I have heard nothing in reply.

Why is Amazon continually held up as a paragon of branding? What Amazon is about is immersing customers in a complete shopping/lifestyle/search/payment ecosystem. There are now over 100m Amazon Prime subscribers in the US alone.

Amazon want to "be the world's most customer-centric company: to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they want to buy online."

"Customer-centric" sounds all well and good, but there's a huge difference between that and "people-centric". It's not just semantics. Amazon couldn't give two hoots about its business customers, or its staff. In Amazon's case, "customer-centric" is looking more and more like the customer trapped in the middle of the ecosystem, with no choice, helpless and unable to get out, while the vultures (or eagles) feed.

Amazon can go on making Iconic Moves because the customer sure as heck can't.

1 comment:

Sue Imgrund said...

I haven't read all of this yet, but it looks to be a very thorough analysis of what amazon and Jeff Bezos are about: