It’s been said that rivalry adds charm to ones conquests. Competition is good for the consumer and generally keeps everybody on their toes. Lack of competition impedes innovation, and lack of innovation leads to stagnation. Some rivalries become legend – Ali vs Foreman, Redsox vs Yankees, Pepsi Vs Coca-Cola – and there is much added media value attached to a healthy fight in public.
Sometimes brands are long established rivals, like Pepsi and Coca-cola. The two soft drink giants have product portfolios that practically mirror each other. Other rivalries occur when a new challenger takes on a more established brand, such as Virgin and British Airways in the UK. The two brands spent much of the 90s in a series of public squabbles, ending in libel claims and court orders.
So while rivalry exemplifies the virtues of competition, childish spats can be extremely damaging for both parties. At the height of the recent Toyota recall crisis, General Motors offered Toyota drivers a special trade in deal on their vehicles. Almost immediately after the offer was announced to great fanfare, the public backlash followed, and bloggers and journalists decried the actions of GM, that they saw as kicking Toyota when it was down.
Periodically – perhaps even cyclically, the supermarket sector will head down the price war route. Shoppers initially delirious about the bargains soon begin to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. People only have so much space in their cupboards for cans of beans costing 3 pence/cents.
Tighter advertising legislation means that brands have to be very careful when making comparisons. So now it seems the public, and the industry demands a fair fight. (Image courtesy of Mike Johnson - The Busy Brain)