"A trademark is the intangible sum of a product's attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it's advertised. It is also defined by consumers' impressions of the people who use it, as well as their own experiences" – David Ogilvy.
It is widely known that the use of trademarks to identify a product derives from immemorial times.
Primitive men made marks on the walls in order to mark their passage or domains, manufacturers in Ancient Greece imprinted their names and location in products marketed as quality and liability public assurance for products produced.
However, only in the 20th century does the development of the trademark as an economic and social phenomenon occur mainly due to the emergence of advertising. The trademark then acquires importance as added value enhancer element mainly due to mergers and acquisitions, through which companies will be valued for their intangible assets rather than for the traditional tangible goods.
It is in fact at this point that the trademark begins gaining importance as the main selling vehicle of products.
Among the various factors influencing a purchase decision, the trademark is probably the strongest of all. In food industry the trademark factor is of particular significance. Among other things, in an area as diverse and sensitive in terms of public health, such as the food area, the trademark establishes a competitive advantage over competition, adds the product with values that lead consumers to acquire it, secures loyalty of consumers, attracts new ones and, above all, it holds the sole responsibility towards product quality. A trademark associated with a quality product cannot take the risk of identifying an inferior-quality product that could jeopardize the health of consumers.
Food product consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and taking into account, at the time of purchase, as relevant aspects as those concerned with health, safety and quality. Now the trademark not only has to ensure these values, but also has to adapt to this reality and be able to convey confidence to the consumer.
In the food industry, the creation of strong trademarks is particularly important. Indeed, a weak trademark is often penalized by the consumer. In general, consumers, which in this area cover all society levels, believe from the start that suppliers are all the same and that they might easily switch from one to the other; on the other hand, consumers tend to choose, preferably, the cheapest supplier without major trademark loyalty.
In contrast, a strong trademark allows improved competition withstand, provides easier customer loyalty and enables easier price increase or maintenance.
Food industry has undergone major changes over the last decades and consequently trademarks have followed this evolution.
A few years ago, the so-called "white goods" or "white label products" seemed to be on the way to win consumers over. By being packaged by supermarket chains and not requiring advertising campaigns for their release, they allowed reaching consumers at highly competitive prices compared to branded products. However, these products were quickly replaced by own branded products. And why? Because there is an essential difference between a product and a trademark. The difference is that on any shelf of any supermarket, a product is something that is (sometimes) bought while a trademark is something that is (always) chosen. The trademark binds the product to the consumer.
Another aspect of great importance is the trademark's ability to adapt to changing lifestyles of consumers. Trademarks that once identified only one product now identify a line of products in order to adapt to changing tastes and needs. "Coca-Cola" has launched "Coca-Cola Zero" to meet the tastes of consumers who demand products with less sugar content, "Becel" has reduced fat so as to show their concern towards health, several trademarks have launched ready meals to address the new pace of hallucinating lives marked by an increasing lack of time to cook. Summer arrival brings with it the expectation of novelties and surprises and then trademarks seek to address these expectations by identifying new drinks, new flavors and new packaging.
In short, in order to fully fulfill its task, a trademark must be strong, bear values and be able to follow the evolution of consumer habits and tastes.
Originally published March 2, 2016
Clarke, Modet & Co - PORTUGAL
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.