Who Owns the Brand?

Who Owns the Brand?

Kowloon, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We seek to transform hundreds of small charitable organizations from cash strapped “beggars of funding” into wealthy owners of small consumer brands. We aim to achieve this by providing a comprehensive “branding, product sourcing and e-retailing” service to these charitable organizations.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The objective of this non-profit venture is to transform hundreds of small charities from cash strapped “beggars of funding” into wealthy owners of their own consumer brands. These products are sold via each charity's own e-retailing stores. Our vision is that the new era of Interactive Marketing Communications has changed the rules of branding. In this new era, charities possess some of the very best brand stories, that can be easily used for the purposes of consumer marketing. As a result, charitable consumer brands can potentially operate at considerable cost advantage, in comparison to non-progressive (TV-era) brands. Problematically, most small charities lack the required commercial infrastructure and know-how to maximally benefit from this tremendous fund-raising potential.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This venture provides small charitable organizations an effortless and highly cost effective path to sell their own branded products via their very own e-retailing stores. We offer a comprehensive “Branding, Product Sourcing and Internet Retailing” service. This includes product sourcing, packaging and warehousing, e-retailing activities (including credit card payment linkages), shipping of finished goods to consumers, and after sales services, in addition to providing charities the required training in key marketing and e-retailing activities. The primary consumer segments are the core supporters of each charity. We will hence serve the needs of multiple small charitable communities, also known as "consumer tribes". Yet, as the core operational activities are the same, this allows most for extensive mass-customized of our services, resulting in considerable economies of scale. No small (or even medium size) charity can achieve these capabilities in isolation.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Small charitable organizations do not have the required capabilities to establish and operate professional e-retailing stores selling their own branded product lines. This requires a broad range of technical and commercial capabilities, which are beyond the means of small charities. In addition, operational profitability would require considerable economies of scale. In contrast, based on our preexisting organizational capabilities, we can offer even small charities a comprehensive service package to manage all aspects of this branding / e-retailing operation. This allows our client charities enhance their of fund-raising capabilities, while fully focus their own efforts on core charitable activities. In addition, the use of these branded products will spread the core message of the charity as a form of unpaid advertising. In addition, the use of these branded products is like to strengthening the bond supporters have with the charitable cause, while strengthening the bond between core supporters.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are thousands of commercial entities providing e-retailing solutions to companies. Yet, there are relatively few firms that can offer the full range of services required to operate a comprehensive e-retailing venture, combined with Chinese sourcing, after-sales service and branding capabilities. Accordingly, our competitive position is to some degree protected by the combination of capabilities required (see Resource-Based View of the Firm) In addition, our competitive position is protected by our chosen target segment, small charities. Should for profit firms offer such comprehensive solutions, there primary target segment is likely to be other companies due to higher profit potential. This means that small charities are likely to remain a relatively unserved market niche.
Team

Founding Story

Traditionally, charitable organizations have relied on donations to fund their activities. Our first "Aha" moment was the realization of how this charitable "beggary" has marginalizes the power of charitable movements, in comparison to commercial entities, e.g. limited “share of voice” in media and economic power to advance their cause. Even worse, due to this "beggary" charities have indirectly surrendered the entire domain of consumer branding to amoral corporate entities. As an outcome, today media space is filled with largely pointless brand messages. This has radically altered consumer values and aspirations. As an extreme example, consumerism is one of the main causes behind environmental degradation, which may very well fasten then end of our civilization. As a result, it is all important for charitable organizations to establish a meaningful presence as consumer brands, to allow for their more progressive visions to gain wider influences in public consciousness.
About You
About You
First Name

Markus

Tell us about yourself/your team.

Our team comprises of three core members.

I am myself a marketing scholar (PhD in Marketing) with extensive marketing consulting, research, and teaching experience in both undergraduate and post-graduate programs.

My two teammates operate and own a dynamic low-cost e-retailing business in Hong Kong and China. Their more specific expertise relates to e-retail software development, customer relationship management (CRM), and product sourcing in China. More importantly, their current e-retailing business gives this venture well-functioning organizational processes, which can be directly leveraged to benefit this new venture.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

Having researched and taught marketing subjects at various universities, I am all too aware of how consumer marketing (as propaganda) often hinders progressive social and economic development. Yet, I believe this is to be largely a result of ignorance and lack of imagination. Accordingly, I have a professional interest in inspiring better marketing strategies that can genuinely enhance our societies. This passion is share by my team members.

This charitable business plan has been specifically designed to derive maximal social benefit from the organizational capabilities at our disposal. This includes the preexisting e-retailing, product sourcing and customer service processes. Accordingly, we can quickly kick-start this venture with minimal investment and product development.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, XX, Kowloon

Primary country where this project is creating social impact
Additional countries or regions
Industry

Consumer Products

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Innovation
Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

This innovative solution stems from our vision of the future of consumer branding:
Our vision is that inter-active marketing communications will give charitable brands a considerable cost advantage, in comparison to today's non-progressive TV-era brands. This will result in an inevitable redistribution of market share and in favor of charitable brands. We believe that direct ownership of consumer brands will yield the maximal social and economic benefits.

Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

At this point in time, we are only about to launch this business venture. Hence, up-to-date, our impact has been primarily to be a message of hope: There is a meaningful and plausible way to peacefully improve consumer societies, while operating within the existing social structures and market mechanisms.

We believe that if consumers are given an informed choice between two similar brands, most of then can be made to choose the brand that is owned by their favorite charity. In short, "Who Owns the Brand" matters. This can be facilitated by mass-customized e-retailing and branding.

It is this simple change in brand preferences that can result in substantial improvement in the financial position of hundreds of small charities. In addition, we believe that changes in brand ownership will result in more progressive advertisements, and corresponding positive changes in consumer aspirations and consumption patterns.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

As with any new venture, it is difficult to make accurate projections or our future impact. Nevertheless, over the next 1-3 years we will seek to influence two inter-related customer segments:

1. Charities: During the first three years our objective is to recruit hundreds of charitable organizations as members in our movement. Importantly, all products sold will directly enhance the financial prospects of small charities. But as with any branding project, these brands will also require considerably more than three years to achieve their full potential.

2. Consumer attitudes: We will seek to gradually increase consumer consciousness regarding the profound the importance of brand ownership. Here our 3 year objective is to establish a core follower base among young consumer activists.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

- Operational efficiency: Our largest challenge will be achieving the required operating efficiencies. This will require careful segmentation customers and standardization of operating activities.

- Competition from similar charitable organizations: As we operate in an organizational market, we expect there to be considerable geographic fragmentation in market share. While hindering our growth, this can also offer protection against direct competition. However, as an ideological charitable movement, our own growth and market share cannot be seen as our primary measure of the success. Instead, it may be more beneficial to closely collaborate with "competing" organizations to better achieve the greater good.

Sustainability
What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

As a facilitator of charitable retailing operations, our mission is to pass as much of the value added to our charity clients as possible. Yet, to protect our own survival as a commercial entity, we need to periodically evaluate the mark-up which is required to sustain our own survival and growth, while ensuring a continuous improvement in the service we provide.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

This venture has been specifically designed to maximally benefit from our preexisting capabilities, including the skills of the founding members and affiliated organizations processes. As a result, there is very limited need for product development or investment in operation processes.

The primary need for financing relates to the sales function of the firm. As a result, there will be an initial funding gap, particular during the first 6 months of operations.

In addition to the sales function, our other costs are directly tied to our level of sales. As a charitable entity, we have negotiated to buy these services at a low price that only covers the suppliers direct costs. As we benefit from preexisting infrastructure, we have no fixed costs.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

We expect this venture to break-even within the first year of its operations.

As this venture will be structures as a "Corporation Limited by Guarantee", we will not have the possibilities to raise share capital to finance our growth. Instead, this venture serves the interests of its members, the charitable organizations. These organizations will pay a small annual fee to maintain their membership. In addition, we will seek to acquire Corporate Support Members, and Individual Support Members who can offer their skills and resources to further the cause of this venture. In addition, our underlying charitable clients may have members with the right skills to further improve the service we are offering our clients, such as software coding skills.

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

The launch of this project relies upon the technical and operational support of a preexisting affiliated e-retailing business. This operational support allows us to launch this venture with very limited product development costs or investment in expensive facilities. Also, we benefit from the preexisting operational efficiencies, which will have a material impact in ensuring the operational success of this project.

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

As we are in the very early stages, it is too early to say.