Posted by: Burth Helm on October 7, 2006
During a question-and-answer session this morning, Hewlett-Packard’s Vice President of Brand Marketing Gary Elliott received the inevitable question about what effect he thought the recent Board of Directors scandal would have on HP’s brand for consumers. Here’s what he said:
“I don’t know yet. We’re going to have to see what happens in the next days and weeks and how [it’s resolved]. Research is going to be a large part of this, to find out if this is a temporal thing or long lasting. But right now, there’s no evidence that this has had an effect on our consumers’ trust with our products’ reputation…it’s an issue of corporate reputation.”
Earlier in the morning there was also a remarkable case study from marketers at Sony about the Bravia television. CMO Mike Fasulo and friends explained how Sony managed to command a price premium and take number one market share in the flat-screen TV market, despite the fact that the Bravia is manufactured on exactly the same production line as cheaper TVs made by Samsung.
Sony capitalized on the fact that a big-ticket purchase like a flat-screen is a decision men and women typically make together, with the man usually needing the woman’s permission. So they called it “the TV for men and women,” and ran a series of very clever ads spoofing the differences betwen what men and women like to watch. I’m sure you’ve seen them. But what you might not know? As soon as that campaign started running, Sony skyrocketed to number one market share in the LCD TV market, and still commands a $2,000 average selling price for its sets. That’s a few hundred more than the near-identical Samsung set, and nearly double the ASP for sets from Sharp, which used to lead the market, according to the Sony guys.
So take that if you don’t believe in that a clever brand positioning has real power. And while I’m impressed with these guys as marketers, I do have to say this case study shook my faith in the American consumer. Are we really willing to pay several hundred dollars more in order to feel comfortable that we’ve selected a set that’s right for both men and women? What does that even mean?