Study: Consumers Less Brand Conscious

Dec 10, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A new survey by America’s Research Group says only 32 percent of consumers think the brand of a product is “extremely important” in choosing a gift for the holidays.

Only three years ago, just under half (48 percent) of those polled said brand was “extremely important”.

Why the drop in the numbers?

NPD Group’s Marshal Cohen has a theory. “It’s all about competition, because no one has the one hot item,” he told the New York Times. “Who’s got the best cellphone? No
one knows. No one cares. They want small or they want features. Or they want an S.U.V.- and there’s 50 brands to choose from.”

Henri Bendel, the fashion boutique, displays products by category says its general manager Ed Burstell.

Shoppers “know they want something, like a hair accessory, or an assortment of cashmere sweaters or maybe a pin or a charm bracelet.’ They aren’t looking for those items by
brand name, says Mr. Burstell.

Circuit City has noticed that the lower-priced items have become more commoditized. The chain recently began selling private label DVD players to try and wring additional profits
out of this trend.

Bill Cimino, a spokesman for the chain, said brand became more important as the cost of the item increased. “Most of them (consumers) have researched the various brands,’ he
said. “But then, when they arrive, they make decisions based on things like tactile experience – how does it look? – and perception of quality. Is it a good picture? Then they

One category where brand was absolutely essential was dolls for little girls. Chris Bryne, of the consumer advice Web site (
said girls “know exactly what doll they want – if it’s a Bratz, they know they want Yasmin or Chelsea.’

Moderator’s Comment: Are consumers less concerned about brands? What does this mean for the brand manufacturer; the retailer?

Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing wrote, “Consumers don’t need to care as much as they used to. The quality of products has increased dramatically.
It’s increased so much, in fact, that it doesn’t really matter which car you buy, which coffee maker you buy, or which shirt you buy. They’re all a great value, and they’re all
going to last a good long while.”
Anderson – Moderator

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