I have always felt in the country we have had many good brands, and they have lost their way either due to mismanagement or sheer greed. I will share a few examples to elaborate my point of view,
Let us start in the cookery segment, where we have really old brands like prestige and hawkins. We have the experience of using these brands across many years; some of us would still have the 20 year old pressure cookers in their houses in working condition. The brand was built on their performance many years back, but if some one has bought a cooker from either of these companies in the recent years would have a very different story to tell. Do not get me wrong, I do not want to buy cookers which last for 20 years, but I want to buy products which perform. I have had a couple of bad experiences and I thought probably it was a factor of chance, but then when I saw the queue of people waiting to get the valve replaced, or getting their cookers repaired it makes me realize that the problem is much more acute than a few one-off cases. The unfortunate part is that there are no viable substitutes in the market, or maybe we see them as inferior just because we are so used to the old biggies.
My second example is from the mobile services domain. I am talking about the market leader, airtel. Till the time they got into financial pressure, the services were good, but then for the last couple of years you would find them giving you new unasked service and start charging you for the same. One will have to fight out and by the time it is discontinued the company makes some money. My emails to the ombudsman of the company have gone unanswered. And this again is not just across one number, but across many which I know. The disappointing point is that when the going is good the brands fulfill their promise but the moment they are under a little pressure they go back to the pre-liberalization mindset of trying to squeeze maximum out of the consumer without worrying about the future.
The third example is from another brand which I have a lot of admiration for - 'Big Bazaar'. I use to be a loyal customer buying my monthly groceries from them. Then for the last couple of years I had stopped visiting them. The other day I went to buy some groceries and was shocked by the approach they have adopted. In many products there was a difference of 30/- kg if you were to buy a half kg versus a one kg pack, which I found very difficult to digest and ended up walking out of the shop after making less half of my planned purchases. The core proposition which the brand 'Big Bazaar' stood for me is low-cost and I felt that they were fiddling with that core proposition itself.
Building a brand takes many years but destroying it takes a couple of bad experiences!!!!!!! And rebuilding the trust with the consumer would take longer, if it can ever be done.