ON THE JOB -
KEY RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES
The Vault.com Career Guide to Marketing and Brand Management
The Vault.com – The Insider Career Network
Marketing and brand managers set
the strategic direction of their brand and work with many departments to
make sure that the strategy is executed.
Brand managers work extensively with research and development (R&D) to
develop new products - the beloved babies of the brand. Managers must
sift through extensive marketing data. Brand managers work with R&D
and market research departments to determine what functional benefits
a product offers. As a marketing or brand manager, you must always
have a detailed knowledge of your products' ingredients, what your
product is currently capable of performing, and what future
developments can make your product even more desirable to your target
Marketers interpret data about
every aspect of a prospective product - its color, texture, smell,
packaging - in order to make the product as appealing to consumers as
possible. During product launches, brand managers meet often with R&D
scientists to ensure the scientists are moving in the right direction.
(Even at high-tech firms, product development is sometimes led by
marketers. Usually known as product managers, these marketers find out
what the customers want, and then give specifications to engineers on
what to make.)
More common than the new product is the brand extension, which builds
on pre-existing products: a new flavor of granola bar; a smaller-sized
bottle of ketchup. Brand extensions serve two main functions. They can
expand market share into a new market (Frosted Cheerios goes after
those who want sweet cereal), and they can help invigorate a sluggish
brand. The promise of something new splashed across packages and TV
screens opens marketing avenues for the original brand. Then there are
product changes. These can be small additions, can serve to revitalize
a brand (purple horseshoes in your Lucky Charms), but can also involve
a complete overhaul of a product. The latter change is a risky one:
Even mountains of market research can't prevent egregious
misinterpretations of brand identity. While consumers may have
preferred New Coke in a blind taste test, they shunned it when it
arrived on the scene in 1985 - and Coke was forced into an
embarrassing withdrawal of the newfangled drink just a year before its
Once you understand how your product works and to whom it appeals, you
(and your brand management team) must develop a communications
strategy that conveys the benefits to appropriate consumers. This
requires working extensively with market research to understand your
consumer needs and how your product can deliver on them. Once you have
created the strategy, you will need to work with your ad agency and PR
firm to help communicate this plan.
It is crucial that the packaging on your product reflects the product
strategy you have developed. The packaging must be simple to read, but
also stand out amongst the competition on the shelf. What color should
the packaging be? Should it be bilingual? Will the package withstand
wear and tear? Is the size and location of the handle convenient? Not
only is package design concerned with function, but aesthetics can be
ultra-important as well, and can be a strong part of a brand's
identity (Coke's contour bottle and the Hershey's aluminum wrapper
with inserted paper strip are classic examples of packages that have
become synonymous with the product). A particularly appealing package
design can often drive product sales. The process of package design is
identical to that followed during product launches: research and more
research, meetings with R&D scientists, and test trials.
As a marketing manager, you must understand what consumer studies and
tracking devices can be used to glean the most information about your
product. Whether you conduct focus groups to test the latest product
concept, track trial and satisfaction rates for your latest launch,
measure market share in a certain market, or assess competitive
activity, understanding and executing market research will be a huge
part of your job.
Sales Force management:
Because you know your product's functional and emotional attributes
better than anyone else does, it makes sense that you should be the
one to educate the salesforce. Attending meetings to explain what your
sales goals are, and helping to design promotions that will motivate
your salesforce to hit the pavement are also part of the job.
Brand managers determine how much of a product you will sell over a
certain time period. By doing extensive research on the state of the
market, the intensity of competition and how seasonality affects
product sales, you will be able to effectively predict market share
Chances are that as a brand manager, you will be given profit and loss
responsibility. You will have to create a budget with your team and
get it approved by senior management. From this budget, you will
determine just how extensive your communications campaign and product
development pipeline can be.
So, you want to encourage kids to eat twice as much Lucky Charms? Or,
you want to get more people to buy bottles of Sprite, not cans.
Promotions may be the best way to accomplish your goal. For example,
you may want to have a coupon made or have a direct mail piece sent to
individual consumers' homes. As a brand or marketing manager, you will
work with your PR agency and your promotions department to develop a
strategy and execute such an event.
Whether it's print, TV, radio, Internet, or outdoor advertising, the
marketers work with advertisers to create a strategy, execute a
commercial, and put it on the air. Advertising may be done in-house or
through an outside agency.
You have an advertising strategy and $15 million to spend on it. What
media vehicles do you use and what are your communication goals?
You'll work with the internal media department as well as the media
planning and buying departments at the ad agency to make sure that you
develop a media plan that reaches exactly who you want to reach.
If we decide to take a 5 percent price cut on Lysol disinfectant spray
to celebrate the spring cleaning season, how will that affect our
overall sales and profitability? You have a crucial role in
determining the price sensitivity of your consumer target and what
price point reinforces your brand's positioning in relation to the
many boxes of Pampers can you get out the door in a month? How many
cases need to be shipped to what parts of the country? If you wanted
to switch to a new plastic bottle, how long would that take
manufacturing to implement? As a brand manager, you will handle lots
of operational questions like these.