Trashing a Brand?Smart or Dumb?
I didn't understand why back then. I don't understand why now. Sometime in the 70s or 80s, the nutrition police designated cold cereals as "cardboard calories" and worthless, thus thoroughly upsetting the packaged goods people as well as consumers nationwide.
Then in the 80s or 90s, it was discovered that oat bran was really good stuff for people with high cholesterol.
General Mills could have cashed in big—if only it had not changed "Cheerioats" to "Cheerios." The smartypants brand manager-types who changed "--oats" to "--os" had to spend a fortune explaining that the "--os" really stood for "--oats."
Is it smart to trash a brand?
Sometimes yes, most times probably not.
Are They Nuts?
Early in 2005, it was announced that Federated Department Stores—owner of Bloomingdale's and Macy's—purchased the May Company. Suddenly, a legion of great stores—a number of which I called on as a young book salesman—were either going to be shuttered or renamed Macy's. Among them: Hecht's, Filene's, Lord & Taylor, Famous-Barr, Kaufmann's, Foley's and Meier & Frank.
But for Business Common Sense reader Linda Stanley of Glenview, Ill., nothing was more outrageous or hurtful than the announcement last December that Chicago's venerable Marshall Field's was about to become Macy's. She wrote in high dudgeon:
Have the "Barbarians at the Gate", the mergers and acqs guys, taken leave of their senses? Buying a brand just to kill it?
Marshall Fields in Chicago is an old regional brand (and an actual, real, and historical shopkeeper). It has 3-4 generations of living customers, a logo, some decades old traditions, and even a candy ... the Frango mint. A real marketer should be able to develop some ideas that would deliver reasonable profits for stockholders from this brand.
Macys, which means nothing to me, is no marketer, apparently. They bought Marshall Fields & stopped making the candy on State Street. This year I noticed that some traditions are missing, and soon I expect the name to change. Then I will have bury the notion that there is a special place to shop in Chicago. I refuse to spend money in a business that seems careless. Why do modern managers think they can slap on a new name and retain customers? Am I alone in feeling manipulated and ripped off? How many other venerable brands have been trashed for cash, not nurtured? How do your readers feel about this?