New brand launches are becoming more functional – why?

By Reach Brands

Corporate transparency equals less brand emotion… a strange connection I hear you say. But bear with me, after reading this you may just agree that there is a link.

There has been a plethora of product-driven brand launches like The Happy Egg Co, The Saucy Fish Co and Tesco’s Flash in the Pan and this started getting us thinking. One hypothesis is that nowadays, new brands tend to come from start-ups or small businesses. So they are less able to support their launches with advertising that has historically served to bolster an emotional benefit, primarily with the aim to build brand association. Therefore the in-store and on-pack brand, for many, is the main persuader. So why are these brands choosing product functions rather than emotional benefits to hang their hats on? Can one exist without the other – or are they mutually exclusive?

With the accessibility of information, and the drive for consumers to know more about the companies behind the things they buy, it does feel like the days of creating another Betty Crocker or Ena Baxter are well and truly over (or at the very least, they’re experiencing a lull). Within FMCG and grocery specifically, consumers are demanding a clear understanding of what the product can do – no smoke and mirrors, no spurious claims – just the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And brand owners seem to be responding accordingly.

Just to be absolutely clear, there has to be an element of emotion even with a more functional product positioning. is a product-driven positioning that links to the emotion of indulgence within a treating occasion. The Happy Egg Co again links to the anxiety and growing awareness of animal welfare, and therefore despite a bias toward a product positioning, it is tapping into an ethical need-state. Likewise, Flash in the Pan is a new launch that links to convenience and the anxiety associated with eating tasty and nutritional food in a time-poor world. However, the foundations are built on a product truth like the gooeyness of chocolate, or the wellbeing associated with the farming of eggs, and so on.

It appears that we are shifting away from the more traditional abstracted brand, towards brands that are communicating an obvious product benefit and doing so immediately. So what is the catalyst to this shift? Well, it could be anything from the marketing weary consumer who has become jaded by being sold to, to the need for realism in a society that has pushed the boundaries of reality through technological advances. Or is it just a matter of consumers knowing what they believe in, and in turn, demanding the same high values from the brands that they choose? Who knows what the future holds, but one thing is for certain – it’s bound to be more transparent.