The Death of Brand Names is Nigh

Doheny Room, West Hollywood, CA

Part I: Twice in the past week I’ve encountered my friends ordering food from restaurants they didn’t know the names or locations of. Instead, their purchase decisions were based solely on the food’s type, price and crowdsourced ratings/reviews. This seemingly innocuous change in shopping behavior foretells a very near future where name brands and KVIs are irrelevant. Rather, the best products available at any individual point in time and space will naturally rise to the top of search rankings based on these three underlying factors and customers will purchase them. This new ordering system will enable universally richer product experiences for customers and reward the very best businesses/products available in any given geographic area in near realtime.

Part II: Do you remember what you ate for breakfast? How about what you ate for breakfast this time last week? Last month? Last year?

Human beings are forgetful by nature, especially without constant reminding and reinforcement. We have limited attentions spans, and no matter how important or obvious something may seem at any individual point in time and space, the farther removed we become from any specific experience the less we remember the details.

New innovations in the retail supply chain threaten to remove brand names and KVIs from our memories entirely due to lack of interaction. For example,

  1. IoT technologies such as Amazon Dash buttons can now sense when a basic and necessary product such as Tide laundry detergent is running low and automatically reorder it;
  2. Starship Technologies can then deliver Tide from the closest warehouse or retail location directly to your door (or perhaps even your laundry room);
  3. Fetch Robotics, powered by Elon Musk’s OpenAI, could then act as our maid, filling our laundry machines and applying the right amount of Tide needed per laundry load.

This begs the question: once these innovations take hold, how long will you remember a brand name like Tide?

(Part I originally published January 28th, 2017. Part II originally published January 30th, 2017)