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商业 - 消费品

功能饮料Monster生产商改名的学问

Shelley DuBois 2012年11月07日

Hansen's Natural作为一个品牌与Monster的极限运动和比基尼战衣女郎形象相差甚远。而且,Hansen's品牌客户是少数,因为更名前Monster对整个公司的营收贡献就已经超过了90%。

    眼下,功能饮料正火。全球范围内这一市场方兴未艾。相关品牌标识纷纷出现在运动场和极限运动装备之上。虽然红牛(Red Bull)依然主导全球市场,但占据美国功能饮料1/3市场的Monster Beverages正在迎头赶上。

    公众对Monster应该有点印象,因为这家公司正在面临一场官司。去年12月,一位14岁女孩在喝下几罐Monster饮料后死亡,她的母亲指控这款饮料部分导致了女孩的死亡。Monster否认存在任何过错。

    追本溯源,Monster能走到今天这一步也有些不可思议:规模庞大,利润丰厚,以及出售一款颇有争议的富含咖啡因产品。今年1月之前,Monster Beverage还是Hansen's Natural的子品牌。大多数拥有多个品牌的大公司都竭力让公司名称远离公众关注的焦点,然而Monster Beverage却反其道而行之,用热门子品牌换掉了公司名称。

    杜克大学(DukeUniversity)营销和心理学教授加万•菲茨西蒙斯称,过去20年来,很多大品牌开始整合并持有众多形象相互冲突的子品牌 “有时这招很有效,有时效果不太好。”

    宝洁公司(Procter & Gamble)就是一个例子。他说,宝洁在管理子品牌的时候就淡化了宝洁品牌的宣传。宝洁的一大堆子品牌包括丹碧丝(Tampax)、吉列(Gillette)和Swiffer等等。宝洁选择让每个子品牌独立推广,不大肆宣传它们之间的关联,因为如果一家公司的形象与Swiffer清洁用品或丹碧丝卫生棉条密切相关,要让男性购买该公司出产的刮胡刀可能会让他们感到有些难以接受。

    那些品牌整合失败的案例部分原因就在于子品牌看起来与母公司不协调。比方说,莎莉(Sara Lee)在上世纪90年代积累了大量品牌,包括Jimmy Dean、 Haynes和Wonderbra。当时的想法是这些产品虽然不同,但可以到达同样的客户。但菲茨西蒙斯表示,消费者最终还是觉得难以将胸罩制造与香肠生产联系在一起,所以这一策略最终失败了。今年夏季,莎莉剥离了咖啡和茶品牌D.E. Master Blenders,并将公司更名为Hillshire Brands。Hillshire Brands依然出售Sara Lee甜品、Jimmy Dean香肠和BallPark热狗等其他大包装肉类品牌产品。

    任何品牌转变都可能让消费者感到困惑。就Monster更名而言,Hansen's品牌客户是少数,因为更名前Monster对整个公司的营收贡献就超过了90%。

    Hansen's Natural作为一个品牌与Monster的极限运动和比基尼战衣女郎形象相差甚远。休伯特•汉森和他的三个儿子在上世纪30年代创立了这家公司——他们在南加州销售鲜榨果汁。上世纪70年代,汉森的一个儿子推出了天然苏打水产品,这种饮料装在有水果图片装饰的漂亮易拉罐中。公司适度盈利,1992年现任首席执行官罗德尼•塞克斯以1,450万美元收购了这家公司。

    Energy drinks are hot right now. The market is global, growing, and young. Brands plaster their logos on arenas and extreme sports gear. And while Red Bull dominates the world market, Monster Beverages is catching up, account for a third of the energy drink market in the United States.

    The public also has Monster (MNST) on the brain because the company is being sued. The mother of a 14 year-old girl who died in December after having consumed a couple of Monster drinks is claiming that the Beverage played a part in her death. Monster denies any wrongdoing.

    Monster has unlikely roots for what it is today -- giant, massively profitable, and peddling a controversial, caffeine-heavy product. Before this January, Monster Beverage was known as Hansen's Natural. And while most big companies with several different brands under their umbrella are distancing their main name from the limelight, Monster Beverage is claiming its sub-brand as the company identity.

    Over the past 20 years, big brands have started to consolidate and contain many sub-brands with conflicting identities, says Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor of marketing and psychology at DukeUniversity. "Sometimes it works great, sometimes not so great," he adds.

    Procter & Gamble (PG), for example, has tried to manage its sub-brands by playing down the P&G name, Fitzsimons says. P&G peddles a bevy of brands including Tampax, Gillette and Swiffer. It chooses to let each stand on its own instead of trumpeting the connection between them – men might have a problem, for example, buying a razor from a company identified too heavily with Swiffer or Tampax.

    Those brand consolidations that fail do so, in part, because of the cognitive dissonance customers feel when a sub-brand doesn't seem to line up with the parent. Sara Lee, for example, accumulated a wealth of brands in the 1990s, including Jimmy Dean, Haynes, and Wonderbra. The idea was that the products, though different, could reach the same consumer. But customers ultimately had trouble reconciling their bra-maker with their sausage links, Fitzsimons says, and the strategy crumbled. This summer, it spun off its coffee and tea business, D.E. Master Blenders, and renamed the company formerly known as Sara Lee as Hillshire Brands (HSH). Hillshire Brands still sells Sara Lee desserts, Jimmy Dean links, and other big packaged meat brands such as BallPark hot dogs.

    Any branding shift could confuse customers. In Monster's case, the Hansen's customers are in the minority, since Monster drove over 90% of the company's revenue before it changed names.

    Still, Hansen's Natural's was about as far from Monster's extreme games and girls in bikinis rager image as a brand could be. Hubert Hansen and his three sons started the company in the 1930s -- they sold fresh fruit juices in southern California. In the 1970s, one of Hansen's sons introduced natural soda to the business, and the drinks had pretty cans with pictures of fruit on them. Business was profitable but modest by 1992, when its current CEO Rodney Sacks bought the company for $14.5 million.

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