Have you worked out how to make your brand an Aggregator Brand? You’d better!

AGGREGATOR BRANDS – perhaps everything we ever learnt about product/brand marketing is changing? Muzeable Thinking No. 5 from Tim Brooks 7th December 2012

Someday all – ok most – successful, sustainable manufacturing brands will be ‘service-based’ propositions that have become expert in using their service-wrap to sell their products. Ultimately the ability to monetise the service, or parts of it, will be a key success factor, barrier to entry and additional growth opportunity.

Pampers UK Home Page… nearly an Aggregator Brand!

In categories like healthcare and financial services – where increasingly a combination of regulation and intense innovation challenges [not least long lead times and high costs/risk] – this will become even more necessary and prevalent. Perhaps, it might become the only sustainable basis for a business model? These categories will [and do now] often find themselves marketing the ‘same’, or only marginally differentiated, benefits/products with limited opportunity to create image based or perceived differentiation through communication or marketing. Regulatory authorities are actively driving increased product genericisation, which alongside too much transaction-based marketing compounds the challenges. All true, but there is an important additional reason why I would still suggest this will also apply to most categories and brands in the future.

Data obesity and the ease with which we can drown in its soft fleshy folds – immediately, in real time, wherever we are [mobile] and sometimes with the added value of some genuine engagement – is changing how we seek and source things. Basically, we like this change, but it also complicates the simplest of decisions. Comparison websites have been successful for this very reason – without technology they couldn’t exist, but without technology we wouldn’t actually need them! They reassure us in the face of data overload and save us precious time and decision-stress. It might not lead to the best choice, but it avoids a disaster – which is enough for most of us.

As we all churn out more content and as categories segment [hyper segment] and get more complex – even if only as a result of more visible choice – this can only get worse. Or ultimately better if you believe [and I could be persuaded] that data completeness is a good thing. And it could be brilliant, if it wasn’t for the fact that we are all time poor and we struggle with the odious imperfection of comparison. Once most of us find ourselves in the presence of apples and pears we revert to making safe, usually intuitive decisions based on what we already know. Truth is that this might, or might not, be the right choice at that exact moment in time. Sadly, I have not yet found the comparison website for apples and pears? Not ‘simples.’

So, back to the point, in this world the brands that will win will be the ‘AGGREGATOR BRANDS’. [Whilst there is lots of stuff out there about aggregators, I do hope that I can take the credit for coining that phrase, in this context!]. These are the brands that early on, and with 100% commitment, decide they are going to become and own the service platform for the set of choices within the category [and probably some it its adjacencies]. This will potentially make them, if not our ‘friends’, then a necessary support to managing our relationship with the category. This, if done properly, will facilitate product sell opportunities that can be delivered with integrity. This will need a breadth of understanding, an attention to detail and service-design skills beyond the core competencies of the current agency suppliers – this isn’t digital ‘comms’. It will also need some counter-intuitive thinking and behavior for brands e.g. sometimes to fulfill this role they will need to [gulp!] publically concede that a competitor is bringing something positive/better to the table. Without this acknowledgement the Aggregator Brand… just stopped aggregating.

So, where is this happening? I’ve only just started looking, so I don’t know much, but as a starter for ten, I look at Pampers [UK, Pampers Village, link below] and look with genuine respect at the platform they have created with Mums and beyond nappies. Is this marketing edge a direct causal input into Kimberley Clark’s ‘exit’ position with Huggies in Europe? I don’t know and it’s obviously more complicated than that. Did P&G consciously set out to build an Aggregator Brand platform, or even something close to it, for Pampers? I doubt it, it looks like a mix of evolution and opportunity. Is it truly an Aggregator Brand yet? No. But I look at this and see it as ‘Base Camp 1’ for the future of product brands… I see it as leading a silent revolution in ways that really get one thinking… and I take my hat off to them. Bloody well done, I’ve thought about it and you’ve actually gone and started to do it. Their future opportunity has huge potential. I watch this space with interest and a bit of genuine passion.


The concept of Aggregator Brands© is the intellectual property of Muzeable Limited. Please acknowledge us if you use the term.

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