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The Hartman Group is out with a new white paper entitled "Brains vs. Brawn: The Magic of Marketing to a Cultural Movement," that is worth looking at in these tough competitive times.

An excerpt:

"Tesco, with all its money and marketing clout, couldn’t make a go of it with its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores. During the recession, consumers didn’t abandon buying espresso beverages from Starbucks in favor of brewing canned coffee at home. China’s Shuanghui International is muscling its way into U.S. and global market share through the acquisition of Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processor. Trader Joe’s engenders cult-like status among consumers and carves out a unique retail niche in the marketplace.

"What is the 'it' that allows a company to thrive in a downturn economy? What is the 'it' missing from the marketing equation spelling the devaluation and eventual sale of a retail chain? What does a company hope to gain by 'buying' its way into and across the marketplace? Why do consumers’ eyes light up when they talk about their favorite retailer or brand?"

The analysis suggests that there are two basic strategies at work here - one that values brains over brawn, and another that values the reverse:

"The 'brawn' approach is when companies try to emulate the success of others through acquisition, line extension, knockoff products, marketing, or low pricing. This is what’s known as marketing to a category or commodity.

"In sharp contrast, the 'brains' approach is taken by those companies that recognize that the key to success is following the consumer. These innovative and visionary companies know that the marketplace is consumer driven. They seek to be culturally relevant, and thus they market to cultural movements."

You can check out the entire white paper - available for free - here.
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