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Is now the time for real brand utility?

June 12, 2008

The quadruple threat of rising gas, escalating food prices, the downturn home values and less available credit, puts a very interesting complexion on the future of consumption in the US.

The carefree spending days are over, at least for the moment, but are brands prepared to step-up and deliver the really useful stuff in these trying times for consumers?

It’s obviously early days, but “value’ is going to return in a seriously big way.

We will see it in all kinds of categories especially retail with Wal-Mart leading the charge, but expect others to follow and rapidly expand and promote their own private label offerings.

Some utility like functionality from brands that we might see:

Banks step up and help their customers budget plan more effectively.

How about home improvement and garden centers educating their consumer base on how to grow their own food? Anyone ready to become the champions of the urban farming movement?

Gas companies informing their customers on the ways to increase the gas mileage of their vehicles.

Video rental companies making suggestions for alternative forms of entertainment in the home and perhaps partnering with take-out chains and perhaps television networks to create interesting promotions.

It’s inevitable some categories will not be able to re-configure their offering around the new normal; luxury, travel and the more upscale restaurant chains might find it difficult, but for many, there’s a great opportunity to step-up and deliver a much needed utility.

Look for new web-based tools that allow consumers to plan their spending, their food budgets and gas mileage.

Now might also be the time for interesting new budget planning services like Mint to really take off.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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