Incumbent Brands

With our somewhat tepid economic recovery, consumers are continuing to reconsider every purchase and pattern. To that end, I suggest a shift in mentality and language from “leading brand” to “incumbent brand.” As people continue to trade-down and flock to house brands, incumbent brands have to justify their customers’ ongoing preference.

One way to do this is through corporate social responsibility.

Maxwell House’s “Drops of Good” campaign highlights their commitment to building stronger communities. The program, which concludes later this month, has had 1.9 million people participate thus far. Maxwell House has localized a national brand, and given coffee drinkers a reason to continue to choose Maxwell House over less expensive alternatives.

Nonprofits have much to learn from incumbent brands. Many fall into the trap of a marketing strategy solely based on direness of need. The point is that you are helping. People follow organizations that make an impact, not organizations that are causes unto themselves.