Brand Management – Why it is important to turn a product into a concept: example with Mc Donald’s & Pampers

Remember when Mc Donald’s decided to launch pizza, bagels and sandwitches in the United States: it was a huge failure.

Why? Mainly because in consumers’ minds, Mc Donald’s was associated to hamburgers, meaning that Mc Donald’s was perceived as a product-based brand.

The Mc Donald’s example: being a concept to launch new products

Indeed, when people were thinking about Mc Donald’s they only think about hamburgers and not pizza. Because pizza and bagels were denying the existence of the core product (the hamburger), consumers did not buy it. A blessing in disguise, Mc Donald’s understood that they needed to be perceived as a concept rather than a product in order to launch line extensions.  This is whyMc Donald’s soflty moved from the hamburger-based brand to the “American Fast-Food Experience”, which is a concept-based brand. With this concept, line extensions could be accepted by the consumer as a wider fast food experience, where pizza and wraps would not contradict the core products, hamburgers.

The Pamper’s example: being a concept to create an online community 

The brand Pampers was previously associated to baby diapers and nothing else: it as a product-based brand. Then they decided to become a concept, a “baby care” company: Pampers not only sell diapers, Pampers take care of your babies. In order to build their concept and make it concrete (a concept only exists through consumers’ perception, they need to accept it! ) Pampers redesigned their website. They created an online community where the brand gives advices on baby care, you can find “how to do” sections, general and more specified topics are covered in sort that every mother can find what she needs. This website enabled Pampers moving from product to concept, by creating an online community around baby care. Many advantage came from this strategy: since then it has been created a C2C buzz on social media,  positive world-of-mouth, and it enabled the brand to launch a line extension: baby-wipes for toddler and young children. Because Pampers was succesfully perceived as a Baby-Care company, the baby wipes were perceived as a logical line extension. Parents were starting to buy these wipe because they trusted the brand. Because Pampers was giving advices on baby care, it bring credence to the brand, meaning that they were more credible in consumers’ mind. It goes without saying that media buzz is good to enhance brand awareness!

To put it in a nusthell, consumers would accept more easily line extensions when the brand is a concept. When your brand is product-based, then there is always a higher risk: your line extensions might be rejected by your consumer as an inorganic line extensions. However, it is not because your brand is a concept that your line extension will be accepted: there is not magical recipe ! For instance, BIC perfumes where rejected by the consumer while BIC is known as a concept in consumers’ mind ( BIC refers to yellow, cheap and easy-to-use product, throwable) . BIC failed with this line extension because they did not understand what they were exactly selling. Any brand needs to perfectly understand  its concept . The concept needs to be well-defined, logical and coherent as a whole in order to successfully launch line extensions.


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