Brands are intrinsically dedicated to innovation and value creation, constantly striving to create, craft and build differentiated products to meet, and indeed exceed, consumer expectations.
Innovation is inherent to brands and comes in all forms, shapes and styles, whether with state-of-the-art facilities, ground-breaking science & research, advanced technologies improving product sustainability footprint or new ways to stay in touch with the ever-connected consumer.
Innovation is as old as brands themselves. The first branded good dates back to the 14th century, a beer that still exists today – albeit a version that has improved with the latest technologies in brewing! Innovation and value creation remain at the core of brands and consumer goods companies, particularly in today’s highly competitive, fast-moving, trend-switching world.
Research & Development lies at the heart of Innovation. AIM’s corporate members alone invested €14 billion annually in R&D in Europe, placing them in fifth place in the EU ranking for EU R&D investment.
In order to bring sustainable and innovative brands to European consumers, brand manufacturers continuously invest in research, science, new ideas, and innovative ways of doing things, including manufacturing equipment and processes. Brand manufacturers are highly capital-intensive companies as they must make a significant investment in assets relative to the amount of sales revenue those assets can produce. For brands manufacturers, it costs on average 98 cents in fixed assets to produce 1 euro of sales.
This significant and continuous investment of brands in innovation, research and consumer insights has clear benefits for society and the European economy. On the consumers’ side, brands provide a broad and widely available product range and diversity, enable consumers to conveniently distinguish different products, base their choice on informed judgments of quality, reliability and suitability, and ultimately deliver higher value from higher quality at competitive prices. From an economic point of view, branding is associated with a more dynamic response by producers to consumer needs and to competitive activity. Branded businesses invest more in innovation, which in turn leads to business and employment growth. In mature markets, growth does not come from selling the same products to more people, but is achieved through the trade of improved products and the development of completely new products.
The brand is a whole family of attributes – reputation, quality, fitness for purpose, consistency – built on one essential foundation: the trade mark. Put simply, no trade mark, no brand.
Trade marks are signposts to goods consumers can trust, their badge of origin. AIM’s long-standing reputation in the intellectual property field is based on our USP as right holders whose IP is their most important intangible asset.
Our Trade Mark Committee focuses on promoting efficient and effective trade mark laws, systems and procedures. We work closely with the EU institutions, striving to bridge the gap between substantive law and policy and market reality. We engage closely with IP offices, especially the EUIPO, where we are honoured to be one of only 5 user association observers to the Management Board, and we are an official observer at WIPO.
IP-intensive industries account for almost 40% of EU jobs and 47% of its GDP. It is this very success that makes brands vulnerable to another of the world’s fastest-growing industries: counterfeiting and piracy, which now accounts for 2.5% of global trade (USD 464 billion) and 5.8% of all EU imports. Any brand, in any category, faces this menace. Counterfeiters, increasingly linked to organised crime, sell all types of fake, sub-standard or non-compliant products, harming consumers, evading taxes, damaging the environment and attacking the creators on whose innovation and competitiveness we rely.
Since the 1980s, our members have worked with a wide array of other right holders through AIM’s Anti-Counterfeiting Committee to develop and enforce solutions. We promote the right holder voice with the EU institutions, in the European Observatory on Infringements of IP Rights, with law enforcement, in the WCO and in WIPO’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement. Our peers have honoured us with the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Award 3 times.
We also combat the misuse of brand names online, which dupe Internet users into believing URLs, sites or messages are genuine instead of a hook for infringers and cybercriminals. For over 20 years we have been very active in the global body that manages the Domain Name System, ICANN, often as elected officers of its Business Constituency where we work with our global industry partners to combat all such abuse and try to ensure that the Internet is a truly safe place to conduct business.
Brands are now fully digital in all aspects of their business. From research and development, to production, level of customisation, logistics, distribution, sale and the services created with the products.
Brands are at the forefront of bringing the latest digital developments to consumers, whether through augmented reality experiences, personalised and customised products or online apps providing a more seamless service.
The digital environment is complex and to succeed for the long-term must rest on a level playing field, built on principles that apply to all players in the same way. Value creation and quality must be encouraged and promoted. It is key to ensure rules favour competition for the long term over short-term potential gains and provide the necessary legal certainty and enforcement capacity.
Retail has evolved dramatically over the past decade becoming increasingly digital and platform focused: The shelves are now digital and consumers are inspired and influenced in their digital journey by friends, peers, social networks, on-line communities that resonate with their values, countless reviews, shared data, linked information, to name but a few.
The new technologies have resulted in the opportunity for brands to demonstrate care, maturity, accountability and responsibility in introducing consumers to the new retail landscape that now heavily relies on online sales, marketplaces, creating value out of data, Augmented Reality or Artificial Intelligence.
AIM serves as a platform for its members enabling brands to pro-actively engage around these key issues.
To find out more about our latest AIM Activities on Innovation, have a look at our Innovation News & Positions section!
Keep up-to-date on the latest academic insights, reports, studies and news on Brands & Innovation through our Innovation Insights section!