Sony are claiming they’re going to do an ‘Apple’

I know I’m going on about Apple at the moment, but they do seem to be in my life a lot for all sorts of reasons.

I read today on Brand Channel that Sony are trying to become a ‘lifestyle’ brand alongside Apple. In the article Sony’s Executive VP Kazuo Hirai said that if they can offer movie downloads, game downloads and other entertainment, this would be a point of difference that is not available anywhere else.

What?

Sony are officially a Kevin Roberts Lovemark. One of those brands that we love over and above all reason. But this is evidence to me that they have totally lost the plot and are not just following the (Apple) market leaders, but they are a mile or two behind. Sony, when they launched the Walkman, created and defined a sector from scratch with the world’s smallest cassette player.

Apple’s iPod then came and took the whole sector from them, when they redefined the portable media player sector.

Sony have 33 million PlayStation users across the world, all of them plugged in to a wired or wifi’d world. It would seem a far stronger bet to build on this as a point of differentiation than trying to do it through their Bravia TV, Cyber shot cameras and e-readers, which are all a bit ‘me-too’ at best.

If they created a rental or fractional ownership system for games, entertainment, movies and music via the PS3, they would be onto a far more differentiatable (if there is such a word) product and one that has 33 million headstarts.

Otherwise for me, its Apple all the way.

I can imagine Apple launching a wifi TV – they already have a device that slings your picture from your mac to your TV, a wifi camera (that will be the iPhone 3gs then) and you can already read books on the iPod Touch/iPhone.

Sony have become a follower. They used to be radical. Lovemarks do radical things. Sony need to do something radical again, or they are in danger of us falling out of love with them little by little.

Branding on cigarettes – Lovemarks really applies in this sector

In the UK, for an average packet of 20 cigarettes, you would pay around £5.66 per pack. The tax element of this is £4.33, which is a 77% tax burden
If you had any doubt at all, in the value of a brand, you only need to look at two rival brands and the costs they can get away with charging side by side.

Marlborough Lights sell for around £6 per pack, which gives them a gap after tax of £1.67 or 27.8% and this is the one true ‘Lovemark’ brand within the sector – ie people seem to love it beyond all reason as they will pay a massive premium to be seen with this pack about their person.

Compare that to John Player Special Blue, which as a young boy I started smoking behind the bike sheds, which now retails for around £4.50. Unless they are paying a very different level of tax on this, they have only got 17p worth of margin left with which to make, distribute and share profit with the retailer.

Hardly a moneyspinner, is it?

Who in their right mind wanting to look uber cool would consider being seen with anything else but the Marlborough’s? – Despite the fact they are an almost identical product and 33% more expensive.

During the 70’s JPS was a heavily promoted brand, but was left to die in peace through lack of investment in the core of the brand. It now it seems to have snuck quietly back onto the market.

Surviving on that tiny margin would seem to be impossible, but it does reinforce the power of a really strong and well loved brand like Marlborough.

JPS Blue - your bargain price badly branded cigarette
JPS Blue - your bargain price badly branded cigarette

Marlborough Lights - Your over priced brilliantly branded cigarettes
Marlborough Lights - Your over priced brilliantly branded cigarettes