I have been under a lot of work pressure of late. Lots to do so little time to get it done. In these days of our continuing economic meltdown having work to do is a good problem to have I suppose, but damn how I yearn for school holidays! I find myself judging my teenage kids as they lounge in front of the TV. Have they no clue what is happening in Greece? Or what is happening right here in Botswana as we start to feel the pinch of what it means to run acountry with reducing funds available. Look around you today and you will see that the tell tale signs are all around and plain to see. The salary freezes, the potholes, the slow payment cycles. When Banks start delaying with their payments then you know we have a problem! Remember the days when RangeRover Sports were called “Smarties?”Nowthe mode of transport of choice for younghigh fl iers is a Hilux D4D. It is hard out here.
We see so many companies downsizing, rightsizing, and resizing, retooling and other fancy consultancy talk stuff. The hardtimes are really here. Few can say that they or someone they know has not been retrenched in the last 2-3 years. But is it such a bad thing that we have hardtimes? Hard times have a cleansing effect on organizations and the way we as consumers consume. During hard times we start to think a little harder about the value we actually get from organisations and products. Everytime you reach into your pocket to pay thebill at your local supermarket you cannot buthelp to be surprised by the cost of a basketof goods. Can you imagine how many timescashiers have heard that dramatic groan when they ask customers to pay up? They just roll their eyes these days. We all know the saying “if it does not killyou it will only make you stronger,” right? This is a reality that products and brands must face too. If you look over history, there are in reality only a few brands that remain around in the long run. There is a study in Europe that found that if in any one-year 100 businesses are established fewer than 20 willstill be around in 3 years. In Africa and theMiddle East (AME) it is said the survival rateis even worse. Look around Botswana todayand think back at the brands we grew up with,where are they today? Brands like Mosaditswene Road side Liquor rest? Or Cats Boutique? Lucky Seven or OK Foods? The point we are trying to make today is that it is not easy to create lasting brands.
It is tougher still when we toss in economic down turns. If making great brands were easy there would be millions more. But there being many more would not make them special, so it is probably a good thing that there is a mechanism that helps “clean up” our brand spectrums. Brands will lose ground during recessions and that is a fact that should be noted by organisational leadership. It is thusstrange how so many leaders look to cut backcosts as their singular response to a recession.What about improving the value propositionof your products as a focus? If consumers are at this time checking their till slips after a purchase surely if we want to keep them happy, we should be giving them more. Consumers want more value not less, so cutting back on some services such as packing customer shopping bags to save costs is giving them less. Not offering quality coffee and tea when you used to give top shelf stuff is going backwards. Yes cut back wastage in your organisations, but be careful that as you cut fat you do not cut into the bone. So here is the lesson for this week. If you want to give your brand a chance in the long run, ensure your brands provide greater “value”than its competitors. Cheaper does notmean better.