From the Brand Historian’s Timeline: 1936
In these days of increasingly complicated marketing theory, it’s easy to forget that everybody loves a bargain, and that giving the customer demonstrably more for his money is still one of the simplest and best stratagems for successful brand building.
The savvy understanding of raw material costs, retail price reference points and what the consumer actually values in the product experience have always helped brand owners to create products which disrupt categories and build markets. Unilever did it brilliantly with Impulse and Lynx/Axe which found lucrative white space between expensive fine fragrances and everyday deodorants. Samsung and Skoda – now highly successful premium brands – at first challenged market leaders by offering their consumers a stream of innovative new features for less cash. Lenovo and Kia have become fast followers using the same approach. Branson’s Virgin Atlantic and easyJet are successful examples in the service sector.
In tough economic times, the Big Bargain Brand will always have cutting edge. In 1936, Britain was continuing its slow recovery after the Walls St. crash and the Great Depression, but unemployment was still 13%, and significantly higher in the North of England and Scotland. The unemployed marched from Jarrow on London
Enter stage left, Harold Mackintosh, the son of a Halifax confectioner who took the family recipe for making soft toffee as an asset he could leverage and made a bold and highly creative assault on the market for boxed chocolates. In doing so, Harold made the gifting category accessible to ordinary people and transformed the market. Mackintosh decided to cover his (less expensive) soft toffees in chocolate, wrap them individually in different coloured papers and present generous handfuls loose in a tin rather than arranged in an expensive box. Inspired by a successful J.M. Barrie play, two Regency characters Major Quality and Miss Sweetly were recruited as fancy brand icons on the cover of the tin, and Harold called his new product, Quality Street. The brand would soon be famous for its Triangles and Delights, its Pennies and Fingers, and become the essential family currency of happiness at Christmas and other holidays all over the World.
Forgive the small plug for one of my brand poems which celebrates the cast of Quality Street characters past and present:
Music to raise morale and munch to:
It’s De Lovely Cole Porter