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‘It’s about ideals not just ideas’ says P&G strategist on building a modern prestige brand

The head of strategy and innovation at Procter & Gamble has said that in order for brands to be able to charge way above what a product is worth, they must build meaning into their brands, particularly if they are targeting younger generations.

JP Kuehlwein at Mumbrella360 - ‘Consumption must have meaning’

JP Kuehlwein at Mumbrella360: “Consumption must have meaning’”

Speaking at the Mumbrella360 conference, JP Kuehlwein, MD of global strategy and innovation for the consumer goods giant, used Ben & Jerry’s, Red Bull, Tesla, Patagonia and a brand of toilet paper that costs around US$2 for a single roll as examples of brands to have built a purpose into their brands, and which can charge a high premium as a result.

“Millennials are saying it’s no longer about what you own or have,” he said. “You want to not only buy something, you want to buy into something. You want consumption to have meaning and to make sense.”

Ben and Jerrys Save Our Swirled ice-creamUsing Ben & Jerry’s as an example, he said: “It doesn’t matter what it is [the cause that the brand supports]. It matters that it’s about more than just ice-cream,” referring to the Unilever brand’s stance against climate change.

“It’s about ideals not just ideas,” he said, arguing that meaning or brand purpose, is “the modern kind of prestige” for brands.

Kuehlwein was asked what comes first, the product or the cause. He responded: “Among mass marketers we are very product-focused anyway. I’m not saying the product has to be the best but it has to deliver on the promise.”

“And if you desire to be more than that, there has to be meaning beyond the material,” said Kuehlwein, who is author of the book, ‘Rethinking Prestige Branding’.

JP Kuehlwein spoke with Mumbrella after his presentation. “People don’t want to just accumulate stuff at home. They want to create meaning – meaning for themselves, their lifestyle and what they mean to others,” he said in a short video interview.

He also cautioned brands to be authentic in how they build meaning into their brands.

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