Food Without Brands

canstockphoto5375925Imagine walking into a grocery store and never having to go through the psychological challenges that go along with purchasing products. Imagine not having to price compare two of the exact same products and having the thoughts, “Well, my family has been buying this for generations and I know it’s good quality. Even though this store brand may be a whole dollar less expensive, I would rather not take the risk of jeopardizing the quality of my foods.”

Well, guess what? It’s happened. 8 years ago in London, Catherine Conway launched this unique store, Unpackaged. Conway started this shop as a small boutique selling un-packaged goods in bulk with the only goal in mind to reduce waste. Shoppers would supply bottles, Tupperware and other packaging to purchase their regular grocery items. The grocery chain has already taken off in the UK and franchises like this store in Germany are pushing their crowd-funding campaigns to make this become a reality. Even though this all seems great in theory, I couldn’t help myself but to think that if  Unpackaged became so popular to an extreme, the impact it would have on the value of product brands.

The Value of a Brand

I like to define a brand as the elicited emotions from an image or a message that entices consumers to a transaction. This definition helps to show how the value of a brand or a trademark can grow overtime.

Let’s use one of America’s favorite brands for example, Apple. Apple is a very generic word that if said 40 years ago the first response would be fruit instead of iPhone 6. Apple elicits particular emotions that drive consumers to long lines and highly priced electronic goods. When people think of the Apple brand, they think, “new” “cutting edge” “elite” “must have” and they communicate it in a way that allows the company to report a $178.14 Billion revenue.

If the Mark were Eliminated

If every electronic device became brandless, more likely than not, consumers would be very confused. People may still know the shape, and size of the iPhone vs. the Galaxy or Windows Phone, but if a new provider entered the market and put out something with the same iPhone shape but it had Windows or Android technology, some consumers may be very upset, others may not know the difference.

The same happens in every industry. If you are used to buying particular products, but then you walk into a store withocanstockphoto5423282ut knowledge of what you’re purchasing, over-time, you may not really ever know where your food is actually coming from. What does this mean for the consumer? Will the brand of the store hold the weight for all of the food distributors? How will this affect the pricing? Will the consumer pay a higher mark-up on some foods because the store now has more negotiating power for what it carries?

Even though these are interesting questions to ponder; I think that it is safe to say that enough people, especially in America, care about where their food is coming from and the mark on the box of pasta they buy holds a real value. Where there definitely is some opportunity for a store like Unpackaged to reach some US metropolitan cities, making sure that products are still identifiable by their brand is
something to
seriously be considered.

A true business owner would never want to see their ideas un-packaged and sold for wholesale prices. As a brand continues to grow, it needs to be protected. The Unpackaged market alone justifies the protection provided by registered trademarks. When you put a lot of work into building relationships with families and making your product a household name, you wouldn’t want to see an interloper come in and depreciate that value.

Always protect what is rightfully yours. If you have an idea, a mark, or a potential brand that you can see will hold value over time, call Argent Place Law to get help protecting your ideas and building the value of your company.

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