Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-2003

Abstract

Kill a Brand, Keep a CustomerMost brands don't make much money. Year after year, businesses generate 80% to 90% of their profits from less than 20% of their brands. Yet most companies tend to ignore loss-making brands, unaware of the hidden costs they incur.That's because executives believe it's easy to erase a brand; they have only to stop investing in it, they assume, and it will die a natural death. But they're wrong. When companies drop brands clumsily, they antagonize loyal customers: Research shows that seven times out of eight, when firms merge two brands, the market share of the new brand never reaches the combined share of the two original ones.It doesn't have to be that way. Smart companies use a four-step process to kill brands methodically. First, CEOs make the case for rationalization by getting groups of senior executives to conduct joint audits of the brand portfolio. These audits make the need to prune brands apparent throughout the organization. In the next stage, executives need to decide how many brands will be retained, which they do either by setting broad parameters that all brands must meet or by identifying the brands they need in order to cater to all the customer segments in their markets. Third, executives must dispose of the brands they've decided to drop, deciding in each case whether it is appropriate to merge, sell, milk, or just eliminate the brand outright. Finally, it's critical that executives invest the resources they've freed to grow the brands they've retained. Done right, dropping brands will result in a company poised for new growth from the source where it's likely to be found-its profitable brands.

Keywords

Product management, Business enterprises, Business planning, Corporate profits, Brand name products, New product development, Commercial products, Marketing, Executives, Commodity Contracts Brokerage, Commodity Contracts Dealing, Marketing Consulting Services

Discipline

Marketing | Strategic Management Policy

Research Areas

Marketing

Publication

Harvard Business Review

Volume

81

Issue

12

First Page

86

Last Page

95

ISSN

0017-8012

Publisher

Harvard Business Review

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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