What surveys and reports reinforce the idea people, especially in the UK, have a desire to move away from overly branded (i.e. with a prominent logo) products and instead prefer a clean look for quality products. Note: Muji is a prime example of a company that takes this approach – see: https://liquidcreativity.com.au/the-brand-of-no-branding-muji/ Please find consumer statistics that back up this strategy for a smartphone company.
Thank you for your question about surveys and reports that reinforce the idea people, especially those in the UK, desire to move from overly branded products. The short version is that although I couldn't find surveys and reports showing that UK consumers now desire quality products over overly branded products in the smartphone segment, I found evidence that minimal logo branding is catching on among smartphone companies like Apple and Samsung. UK Companies such as Selfridges & Co are already offering non-branded luxury products in their shops. In addition, I found that only 15% of people associate luxury and quality with a brand and over 81% of millennials prefer subtle branding. Below you will find a deep dive into this study.
METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS
I focused on finding surveys and reports carried out in the UK that suggest consumers prefer quality products with little or no branding. In terms of well-organized study or survey into the desire for little or no branding, my UK-specific search for such studies or surveys, especially as it relates to smartphones or techs, was fruitless. I couldn't find any such studies or surveys in the UK either even when I broadened my search, not limiting it to tech or smartphones. During my research, I came across several keywords used in describing this trend such as "no logo", "minimal branding", "debranding", "unbranding," "branding minimalism", "brand-free products" and several others. I used a variation of these keywords during the course of my research, with a focus on actual studies and surveys, rather than just articles or opinion pieces. I first restricted my search to the UK, then broadened it to the EU, and then globally, due to the limited sources I could find. I believe the unavailability of such reports or surveys is probably because no such study has been designed and carried out in the UK. It would seem that over a decade after the popular book, No Logos, that was critical of branding was published, branding is still a strong component in marketing today, leading some experts to say that the anti-branding movement the book tried to stir has failed to live up to the hype.
STUDIES, FINDINGS, AND EXAMPLES THAT SUPPORT THE TREND
I found a few sources and surveys that support the fact that consumers now prefer minimal branding. First, a study found that a third of all handbag purchase in the US had no visible branding. The report also showed that up to 81% of millennials say that they prefer the logo on their handbag to be subtle. Luxury brands like Luis Vuitton, Burberry, Céline, as well as Giorgio Armani and Hermes are already shifting to subtle branding.
Research conducted at Mintel revealed that majority of consumers no longer associate luxury with a brand. According to Richard Cope, senior trends consultant at Mintel, consumers today prefer "more discreet, more experiential products." He reveals that the data the company collected revealed that "only 15 percent of survey respondents specify luxury goods to be those featuring visible logos." He revealed that most consumers define luxury as "high quality, non-massed produced goods, backed up by 42 percent of those asked."
Silvano Vangi, luxury buyer and creative director at online luxury fashion retailer Luisaviaroma, adds that the anti-branding trend specifically appeals to "select group of people who are very luxury oriented and appreciate minimalism." This is also true for the wristwatch market where it is now "cooler" to be wearing a watch from "an artisanal watchmaker than it is to wear a Rolex", forcing Rolex to make its branding less visible to compete.
A good UK example is Selfridges & Co. The UK-based company has shops in London, Manchester, and Birmingham. The company developed a concept called "The Quiet Shop", a store-within-a-store for which some of the world’s most respected brands have actually removed their logos. An example of a company in the tech industry that displays its product in this shop is Beats by Dre- but without the logo. The company was voted Best Department Store in the World at the Global Department Store Summit in 2012, showing that this trend is actually popular in the UK.
Another company that employed a debranding strategy in the UK is Starbucks. In 2011, "the company removed its ‘Starbucks’ from coffee cups in the UK, leaving only the siren symbol." During the launch of the debranding campaign, its staff started asking customers their names, so they could write them on its takeaway cups to make its service seem less corporate and more personal.
According to an article about the future of debranding, "Prices will reflect real value, not the conceptual value branding magically bestows. Products will be stripped of branding codes and constructed imaginary worlds. The only information on packaging will be features such as origin, the intentions of the maker, the production process, and the environmental impact."
A survey by Cohn & Wolfe, a public-relations firm, found that four-fifths of global consumers now consider brands neither open nor honest, so companies are continually looking for ways to minimize their branding on their products. Experts such as Adam Alter, an associate professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, have said that it's now harder for companies to reach consumers through overt pitches and "companies have had to learn subtlety."
Companies like Apple, Mastercard, and Nike have had to employ "“debranding” or “decorporatizing” —a strategy based on paring down that can only be deployed by the most identifiable of brands." Samsung removed its logo from the front of the S7 smartphone in China and South Korea, and the carrier logo has also been removed from the front of the Samsung S8.
To wrap it up, although I couldn't find surveys and reports showing that UK consumers now desire quality products over overly branded products in the smartphone segment, I found evidence that minimal logo branding is catching on among smartphone companies like Apple and Samsung. UK Companies such as Selfridges & Co are already offering non-branded luxury products in their shops. In addition, I found that only 15% of people associate luxury and quality with a brand and over 81% of millennials prefer subtle branding.
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