"Brands have value only where consumers have choice."
Economist definition of brands
I just bought myself a shiny new pair of Warrior shoes. Maybe it's the recent talk of the Chinese factory workers slavishly building Apple products, but for the first time the idea of handmade in China seems really appealing.
Which made me wonder where we are in the lifecycle of the ad agency. There may be 30,000 products in your local supermarket or hundreds of thousands of new product launches every year, but we are just scratching the surface of where we will be once the global middle class resembles something more like the Western middle class. The means of production will become more accessible, and we'll get perhaps millions of new products meant for audiences with fresh money to burn, including thousands of which that might break free and find their voice beyond. And as this happens - the notion of brand either becomes largely meaningless or infinitely meaningful in helping us navigate. I suspect there will be no shortage of need for people who understand why people buy, what will sell - and all those points in between.
But the question is, in a world of infinite choice - is that a role for someone representing the brand or someone representing the people those brands wish to attract. My guess is that there will still be a few big guys that help large brands find new audiences. But a vast sea of opportunity will emerge for intermediaries who actively seek new products and help them hone their message for the more well defined markets they act as brokers for.