Behind the Bullseye No.2: Brand to Brand Mayhem

A Target Corporation bank note. Interesting...

I’m back from hiatus and I’m going to continue where I left off with Behind the Bullseye. People are much like brands in that we have our own personal reputations to uphold. Sometimes pretentiousness can be unshakable no matter how subtle. Have you ever gone somewhere and felt suddenly that you shouldn’t have been there to begin with– not because you didn’t belong, but because you couldn’t personally justify it? Certain decades old high fashion designers felt just the same about their brands being sold at Target– a discount store. Did Target go behind the bullseye or behind their backs?

Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Sasson Jeans went as far as suing Target for stealing their merchandise. Whether it was acquired legally or not, didn’t matter to the designers. They didn’t want their brands touching Target’s brand. High fashion and discounting generally don’t coincide so by mixing the two, Target was stripping brand equity and perceived value (mentioned in the previous post). Each brand has a right to protect its image. It’s like forcing a new position. The reason the designers were so upset is because they could suffer the consequences of being repositioned without actually being competitors. In other words, it just wasn’t fair.

Next up is brand equity. It’s trust built between the consumer and the brand. When a brand wants to shake things up, it relies on brand equity. Consumers remain unshaken because they trust that the brand is handling things to the best of its ability and that it generally has the consumer’s needs at heart. (see: Apple… tremendous brand equity) So when a brand gets into the hands of the wrong people, consumers are going to say, “How could you let this happen!?” They aren’t going to blame Target. Instead, Vanderbilt, Klein, and Sasson are going to feel the wrath of consumers.

Consumerism requires that we spend to remain at equilibrium. People pour their hard earned (or easily siphoned) dollars into various brands just so they can live as they please. We pay for a name, we pay for an experience, but most importantly we pay for a feeling. We can’t imagine living without that feeling. When a brand takes a tumble and it could ruin a persons life for a time depending on the attachment. Although it won the case, Target was very much an interloper. Even if it was a mere formality, this sort of heartache could have been avoided had Target shown the designer brands a bit of deference.

-PS- the documentary these posts are based on is actually called “Inside the Bullseye.”

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