Brand proliferation and rationalisation – a tale of two countries…
Posted by Kamil Michlewski on December 18, 2009
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Having recently been to Poland on business with one of our financial services clients, I observed that there appears to be a greater variety of brands on the high streets and in the shopping malls there than in UK. Upon my return to Britain I decided to quickly check if there was any grain of truth in it…
I have used the number of brands in major shopping malls in Poland and UK as proxy for the variety of brands on the high street. It looks as though the largest shopping mall in Kraków has almost 60% more brands than the largest shopping mall in London. This might be somewhat skewed by the fact that the calibre and stature of brands at Westfield in London is substantially higher, subsequently requiring more space and visibility.
In order to correct for the ‘premiumness’ of Westfield I looked at one of the largest, and very democratic, shopping centres in Europe – MetroCentre in Newcastle / Gateshead. It turned out that it had approximately only ten more brands than the Kraków mall on a total square footage nearly twice as big.
|no of brands (approx.)||sq meters (approx.)|
|Wesfield (West London)||
|Galeria Krakowska (Kraków)||
This is by no means conclusive evidence that there is a greater variety of brands on the Polish high street, but it seems to begin telling a consistent story. Therefore, I decided to risk a series of hypotheses which might start to explain this phenomenon. Here they are in no particular order of plausibility:
Hypothesis 1: brands disappear as industry players consolidate in a mature market economy.
Hypothesis 2: consumers in Poland expect and demand greater variety after the austerity of the socialist years, where there were only few, state-sponsored brands available.
Hypothesis 3: UK is a country with greater social capital than Poland (as understood by Fukuyama), therefore, people ‘congregate’ more around socially vetted (trusted) brands.
Hypothesis 4: UK citizens and Polish citizens are different when it comes to their preferred risk levels (which could be explained through Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance Index). This might lead the former to being more cautious on when it comes to brand choices and inversely may drive the latter towards being more adventurous with what brands they buy.
Hypothesis 5: the spread of modern marketing thinking, techniques and process has led to less haphazard product and brand launches in the UK when compared with Poland.
Do follow me on my quest to find out:
- a) whether the original observation holds true,
- b) if it does, which of the hypotheses gets hammered down in the relentless process of elimination and which withstands the scrutiny…