There is no doubt that in most if not all categories, very few brands have the ability to compete and connect on the basis of functional attributes or benefits.
Today, every consumer-packaged good competes within the context of the 65,000-sku store against numerous look alike, sound alike, taste alike, priced alike and functionally alike flanking brands. Minus the taste, many categories suffer the very same challenges as cpg: mass market automotive, telecom, professional services, airlines etc. And increasingly, all act, talk and look more like me-too category participants than they do actual intriguing and unique brands.
What needs to be discussed far more courageously than it currently is within brand cultures is this: why do we expect to attract, interest and stimulate people’s purchase gene if we don’t offer them anything distinctive? Low attraction, interest and persuasion could be due to strategic issues that are difficult to fix: the product is bad, the product demand over stated / over estimated, the benefit not relevant or quite simply that people don’t see anything new to drive curiosity! If you accept the research suggesting that memorability and distinctiveness are key drivers of persuasion, then we’d all better start talking, doing and acting differently. Open our eyes wide to the only context that really matters - the one outside of the boardroom and copy test facility where the brand is really judged: a context that creates expectations about how a brand looks, talks and behaves well beyond the given category in which the brand competes.