Brand Spanking


Some years ago I was doing focus groups in the tech sector trying to find a way to displace Cisco Systems the market share lion in corporate switches and routers. On the creative brief I referred these Cisco buyer panelists and their brethren as “market share hounds,” people who bought from the leader just because they were the leader. Something interesting happened in one group that got me thinking that people, by nature, need something to kvetch about. Even among the most committed market share hounds, there was dissatisfaction.


Microsoft, also a market share leader at the time, had its fair share of detractors, and in other groups I would often hear the excitement in their voices as they piled on ther negatives. So I decided that for challenger brands, using research to spank the market leader was a good way to its soft underbelly. Brand spanking as a research methodology was born.


Once you get people kvetching, the stories come out…and the insights fly. For challenger brands, funneling the discussion in a way that uncovers these anger provoking insights is a great way to identify leverage-able brand values. Spank away. Peace.