A challenger that consciously sets itself up as on the side of the consumer, often specifically against the ‘cynical’/ fat cat market leader.
What is it challenging?
The motives and interests of the market leader.
Why does its consumer respond to it?
‘They are fighting for me; if they win, I win’.
Heidi Brauer CMO of kulula Airlines
The People’s Champion makes a very specific claim: that it is a challenger standing up for the consumer, who has been undeservedly – and perhaps even cynically – exploited by the establishment players in the category so far. The People’s Champion is fighting to succeed because, it says, in doing so the real winner is you, the consumer – and if we both join together we can overcome the cynical fat cats that have been lining their pockets at your expense until now.
An increasingly popular narrative in a number of categories, we’re starting to see some important variations on the overall theme, of which we will look at just a couple here. The first is where the brand takes it upon itself to stand up for the people, or a particular group of people. Virgin, for example, has historically tended to seek to occupy this space as a matter of course when entering a category: it always chooses to pick a fight with the way the category or the market leader is currently serving its customers – and always, it claims, on the people’s behalf. Charles Schwab famously champions Main Street, rather than Wall Street.
The second, more recent variation in the way the People’s Champion is used is obviously where the brand is ‘of the people’ in a rather different sense – namely in that it presents itself as a conduit for people themselves to collectively and collaboratively solve an issue that needs addressing. Most of the Open Source and emerging ‘collective creative’ brands (commercial, political and philanthropic) are occupying this space – the latter being brands where the consumer either comes up with, and/or chooses the answers themselves. HopeLab’s Ruckus Nation would be an example of where the people create possible solutions to a societal goal – the incentivised development of a branded toy to help tackle child obesity by getting middle schoolers off the couch, where anyone can submit the winning answer. And Linux bridges both these two meanings of being The People’s Champion, in the stance it takes on giving people control over their software, in opposition to Microsoft, and in the way that it does it, through Open Source.