Is Amazon Killing Brands and Branding?

CPC Strategy posted an interesting summary of an interesting video by Scott Galloway, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business.

The TL;DR version is that Amazon is not only killing off many existing brands, but that the future of retail is ‘brandless’ – essentially meaning that Amazon is weakening the connection between consumers and brands and mostly focusing attention on pricing and delivery.

It is a compelling argument as the ‘retail apocalypse’ is going at full steam, with many household-name brands going under or closing massive amounts of stores in the last few years. The article cites that mall visits declined 50% (!) from 2010 to 2013.

However, the key distinction here is that *retail* brands will likely die, or most of them anyway. A retailer is generally nothing more than a middleman for the actual brands that consumers tend to have a relationship with.

There are likely many commoditized products that Amazon will (and is) white label. But people may still like X or Y brand of toilet paper over Amazon-brand toilet paper.

The key for any company wishing to survive in this brave new world is that you must provide value and innovation in the marketplace.

The role of middleman is being usurped by technology giants like Amazon and Google, and will continue on this path. The low-hanging fruit has been picked and is rotting. It is becoming increasingly difficult to simply arbitrage slight advantages in marketing or knowledge as the advertising landscape becomes more competitive.

If you are not doing something different, and better, than what else is being offering in the marketplace, it is time to start thinking about how you can.

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