Burt Shavitz lived in a turkey coop in rural Maine back in the 80’s. He was a beekeeper by trade and sold honey out of the back of his truck. Then he met Roxanne Quinby, they fell in love, and moved into an abandoned schoolhouse to make handmade soaps and candles.
The Burt’s Bees brand was sold to Clorox in 2007 for $913M.
That’s an incredible success story that exemplifies the American dream in action.
But now that a Fortune 500 chemical company owns the brand, does the grass-roots image still accurately represent the product?
Not to speak ill of Burt’s specifically, but brand pimping in most cases creates a massive deception for consumers.
Brand pimping is most prevalent (and detrimental) in food, beverage and personal-care products.
People buy the brand and forget the product. They eat the menu and ignore the food.
So as long as the brand projects the image of something ‘natural’ that you might find at a farmer’s market, it doesn’t matter that it was actually produced in a smokestack factory off of a Detroit freeway.
In its infancy, a brand-symbol gains people’s trust with the quality of its content and the quaint story of its boot-strap, small-business roots.
The product is always ‘born of passion’ and because it is a labor of love, the perception is that the creator upholds meticulous attention to quality control.
They make a ‘natural’ product with ‘special ingredients’ and ‘unconventional methods’ of production.
Everything is ‘hand crafted’ from ‘secret recipes’ with an ‘old-fashioned’ work-ethic.
People like these stories and, if they can afford it, will usually vote with their dollar for the ‘little guy’ over the global corporation.
So… with that mentality, people quit drinking Budweiser and opt for a ‘micro-brew’ from a small-town brewery.
The micro-brewery gains popularity, expands its operations, and begins looking a bit more like a macro-brewery.
When the micro-brewery has a large enough market-share, the folks at Brew-Corp come knocking on the door with suitcases full of money. They make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Now Brew-Corp owns the brand. Next step? Make production more efficient and cut costs to maximize profits.
A bunch of suits gather in a room and address one question: How can we shave pennies off of the production cost?
Instead of sourcing barley and hops from sustainable, organic farms… they decide to buy in bulk from a GMO factory-field.
Instead of filtering the water to maintain purity and balance between batches, they hook up the hoses to the fluoridated city-tap.
Instead of getting a brown tint from natural roasted malts, they use caramel coloring.
To mask the drop in quality, they mix in GMO corn-syrup and dextrose.
Now the brand remains unchanged, but the product has become something else entirely.
It’s like your favorite classic rock band coming back for a reunion tour with 2 of 5 original members… still touring under the same name.
How much can the corporation diminish the quality of the product and get away with it?
Well, as is said, no one ever lost money betting against the ignorance of the general public.
People eat the menu and ignore the food.
People buy the brand, and forget the product.
…and a constant manipulation of those brands is the game being played all around you.