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Spain needs family brands

Barbara Murray is Editor of Families in Business magazine.

Spain has the opportunity to leverage its family business brands in order to promote the national image abroad

"In business, meaning matters" was the message that Carol Pearson of Georgetown University stressed in the April 2002 edition of Families in Business. It matters, she argues, because it makes businesses more profitable and creates economic value added for the shareholders. Pearson cited a recent study showing the enhanced performance of firms whose customers demonstrate loyalty to preferred brands that resonate with personal values.

This success is attributed first to the loyalty that these firms have to the values associated with their brands, and second, to their ability to weave these associations into their marketing. These firms are more successful because "their marketing reflects who they really are".

Pearson also concluded that family-owned businesses may attain an advantage over their joint-stock competitors because, unlike anonymously owned firms, families (and therefore business-owning families) generally have actual identifiable values that can be integrated into their business model and into their marketing mix. So, a potential source of competitive advantage for family enterprises lies in the ability to embed the family's values into the business culture and to weave them into the marketing message. Customers can then associate the product or service with their own desires and values.

The images, emotions and values associated with famous top performing brands was categorised by the researchers into "Archetypes" that evoke unconscious, yet pre-known stories that consumers value a lot. Based on the Jungian concept, an archetype refers to the underlying emotive and meaning structures found in art, literature, religion and the human psyche. Archetypes remain constant over time and recur in all cultures, although there may be style differences in some cultures.

In the marketing arena, an image or a 30-second advertisement can bring viewers to tears because it evokes a memory or triggers the recognition of values that matter to the consumer, symbolised for example in the "Caretaker" archetype. A slogan or a logo can therefore evoke a sensation that triggers a series of previously learned feelings, emotions and behaviours. The sensation of being cared for or secure; a sense of adventure and rebellion; a sense of being powerful and in control: all of these are found to be most profoundly effective when the brand, image or sensation triggers the recognition of an archetype by the consumer.

Extending beyond the brand itself, the physical attributes of the premises, factory, management-staff interactions also become embedded in the archetype – a great mythic story of the "Jester" archetype is being played out at Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream HQ, for example, where the casual dress, cow wall murals, and funny named flavours signal a playful spirit carried through into the consumer's experience of the brand, the product and the concept of Ben & Jerry's. But why is this important in the context of Spain?

Spain's untapped potential
Spain is the 11th-largest economy in the world (the ninth among OECD countries), yet according to World Bank figures of export and population for 2000, Spain has a comparatively low level of exports per head: (less than US$3,000 per head versus Singapore, $34,500, or Sweden, $9,600). One factor that, apparently, gets in the way of Spain's ability to export more is the less than positive image abroad: in a recent survey, Spanish goods were perceived as cheap, poorly designed and unreliable, by comparison with Germany where goods were perceived as high quality, innovative and expensive.

Perceptions really count in the business world, even if reality tells a slightly different story – which in fact is one of Spain's significant and growing presence in the business world.  Spain is the sixth-largest international investor (number two in Latin America), the world's second biggest tourism destination and the sixth-largest car producer in the world.

The main problem, reports MMM (the Spanish Forum of Renowned Brands), is that more needs to be done to reinforce brand image: "Except for Airbus Industrie [a business alliance between Spain, France, Germany and the UK], not a single Spanish company made it into the Financial Times' 2001 ranking of the 50 most respected companies in the world." 

The success of Spain's family business brands
Despite these perceptions, Spain is already doing much better, as a review of Spanish brands performing well in the global context reveals. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that many Spanish family businesses have brands that are already performing well in the global context. Their success has been measured in terms of their overall predominance in Spain's expert performance, the worldwide distribution of these brands and the degree of "visibility" or citation of these brands in different parts of the world.

Linking brand image to Spain's image
There is a close relationship between brand image and the image of a country, concludes MMM. Since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975 marking the restoration of democracy, Spain has catapulted into the Europe Union and the world economy.

Through efforts such as direct investment abroad, opening the economy to foreign trade, massive improvements in infrastructure, higher quality products and improved business management, and through greater use of technology, development of know-how and a better educated workforce, Spanish people are enjoying higher self-esteem and a better quality of life.

These factors, complemented by landmark events such as the 1992 Olympics and the World Exposition in Seville, suggest that Spain has embarked on the path to improvement and change and, by definition, her image abroad has begun to change for the better, too.

Notwithstanding the esteem enjoyed by Spain in Latin American countries where language, history, culture and religion are held in common, it seems that there is still a long way to go before Spain can enjoy an image abroad that truly reflects the quality and values embedded in her most popular, mostly family-owned, global brands.  
Fulfilling potential
If Spain wants to narrow the gap between actual and potential global brand performance, the best place to start may be to explore and promote the untapped potential of other family business brands. Much can be learned from those who have already successfully woven the values originating in the business-owning family (or families) into the business model and into the marketing mix.

Those who have done well have created brand archetypes that invoke images, feelings and desires within customers across the globe – customers who reward this strategy with brand loyalty. One family business brand that features at the top end of most global brand lists is Chupa Chups, a second-generation business of the Bernat family of Barcelona.

Internationalising Spanish brands
MMM – the national association in Spain of companies with global brands – has described a model to manage a process for taking a product that already enjoys a significant national presence and converting it into an international brand that will also improve the image of Spain abroad. However the process fails to take into account the influence of family-derived archetypal brands that have the potential to invoke consumer loyalty across the globe, since archetypes recur across cultures and are relevant over time.

The predominance of family business brands representing Spain in the comparative charts shown illustrates that there is something different in the business model and marketing mix of these successful family businesses that is not as evident in their joint-stock counterparts. This merits serious attention from those who want to improve Spain's national image and eradicate the pernicious stereotype once and for all.

Linking Spain as a nation to her world famous brands often yields a number of surprises: people are often surprised to learn that a brand they know is actually Spanish, or indeed that a Spanish brand has such global predominance. The lingering, inaccurate and unhelpful national stereotype of poor quality does a real disservice to the truly world class products and services of outstanding quality that compete in the global arena today. Anyone who lives in Spain or who visits frequently knows that the nation is awash with family business brands of outstanding quality, distinctive style and often unmatchable enjoyment – begging the question, why is it that these brands are unheard of abroad? Ironically, it may be because the producers of some of Spain's famous brands are reluctant to acknowledge or be linked in a marketing campaign to their nation of origin if they fear that the stereotypical image abroad may somehow disappoint the consumer.

It is hoped this article will stimulate debate on how to transfer and extend the models of global brand success that Spain already enjoys. Several steps can take this forward. First, a commitment by national institutions to the strategic intent to improve the perception of Spain at home and abroad has to be assured, along with the creation of tactics and initiatives to make it happen.

Second, the already well established national family business brands demonstrating clear archetypal qualities are an excellent place to start the process of internationalising brands, thereby improving the image of Spain as a nation, because in growing markets, these are more likely to have consumer appeal and engender brand loyalty.

So a proactive and collaborative initiative to expedite their development as national brands is an obvious step, and would require the cooperation of family firms with government institutions.

Third, those family businesses that may be reticent about their brand being included in a pro-Spain awareness-raising campaign would need to be convinced that the stereotype that they may regard as harmful to their products can really be eradicated, and a new image created and positioned in its place. This may be a longer term goal, but it would be worthwhile giving this step some priority in order to get the most successful businesses and their brands to buy-into the project. 

Grupo Chupa Chups: the family and the brand
Everything to do with Chupa Chups evokes images of fun, colour and creative energy. Its mission, "providing best oral gratification with self-expression", is aligned to the Jester and the Creator Archetypes: its brand meaning stands for enjoyment, fun, play, artistic and creative.

From its beginning in 1958, founder Enric Bernat wanted to create a product that kids could eat without making a sticky mess of themselves and everything around them: to create a solution to the problem he defined as "grubby kids and their desperate parents".

He measured the size of the problem by hiring a French consulting firm to study sweet-eating habits, and found that 67% of sweet consumption was literally in the grubby hands of the under 16s. By putting together the concept of "eating a sweet with a fork" with new advances in sugar refining processing, the lollipop was born: the candy on a stick.

Ever the marketeer, Enric sought a catchy name and brand image for the product, and finally arrived at Chups. To ensure the last word in state of the art creativity, he commissioned fellow Catalan and notoriously daring artist, Salvador Dalí, to create the brand image. The resulting concept-image-brand encompassing the values of fun, play, creativity and practicality was launched: the colourful Chupa Chups brand name.

Many Barcelonese still recall Enric Bernat's dedication to creativity, production and his marketing savvy: to finding the channels for distribution first locally, then nationally. People remember him selling lollipops at the train stations and other corner shop outlets. The next stage was to create effective sales and distribution strategies to extend this nationwide, which in the 1960s took the form of a fleet of Seat 600 cars in colorful livery, getting noticed across the nation, and engendering brand loyalty.

Says Enric: "If you can be the first to do something, and you do it after due consideration, it's always an advantage." Innovation followed innovation: the round shape of the sweet adapted perfectly to the mouth and, when swirled, got the taste buds busy and enhanced its flavour tremendously.

Negotiations with suppliers to create new plastic sticks – more hygienic and safer than the original wooden ones – led to a contract for three million sticks a day. Innovations in the factory led to process advancements that are still unmatched by competitors today. The final piece in the marketing mix was the price: one peseta made it easier for shopkeepers to manage the sales transaction and speeded up the selling process.

Against the backdrop of the swinging 60s, movies, colour TV, fabulous fashion designs, exciting cars and worldwide sports coverage, people wanted a world in which the chores of daily life were lifted to another level of enjoyment – or at least made less mundane. Products that were good ideas, supported by brands offering colour, fun and enjoyment as well as value for money were the order of the day. 

Under Enric's leadership, the 1970s and 80s saw this powerful business model and marketing mix focused on international growth. Exports began to Germany, Italy, UK, USA, Japan and Australia, and subsidiaries were set up around the world, including France (1980), Germany (1982) and the UK (1983).

From the family perspective, the 1990s saw the entry of the second generation of the Bernat family (three brothers and two sisters) into the business, and the beginning of the transition from the founder to a sibling partnership. The next generation of Bernats stayed true to the archetypes by extending the product range most notably by creating and launching new global brands including the extremely successful SMINT (sugar-free mini-mints in a pocket-size dispenser), and by pushing for overall consolidation of the Grupo Chupa Chups global presence.

One of the highlights of the decade was the colour pictures in 1995 of the Mir astronauts playing with Chupa Chups lollipops at zero gravity in their space station – giving them the claim to fame of being the first lollipop to be consumed in space. 

Now into the new millennium, the second generation of the Bernat family are focusing on strategic development of the business, especially the development of commercial and strategic alliances in the food and beverage sector. Resources are focused on increasing production capacity and logistics development all over the world. The production technology and know-how applied is controlled in-house, with 80% of the processing machines used manufactured themselves.

Decentralisation of the commercial structure is taking place by installing a marketing infrastructure in all the major markets to improve customer service and market intelligence. The family's vision is summarised in the statement:

VISION = 3E + 3P
Entertainment for Every mouth,
Every day
Pride and

Under the next generation's leadership, the brand archetypes of the Jester and the Creator have remained constant. They have been strengthened by the family throughout the periods of startup, growth, globalisation and now strategic development.

The confectionery industry
More than 40 years after its creation, Enric's business model for success has not changed, and the second generation's drive is to focus on the production, distribution and sales of diverse candy products, all developed with in-house technology and sold under exclusive trademarks all over the world.

There is no clear leader on the sugar segment of the confectionery market, and Chupa Chups is among the leading companies, with Chupa Chups and SMINT in second and 25th position respectively. The company has recently developed strong cooperation agreements and distribution alliances with other food and beverage firms, such as Cadbury in Australia, PepsiCo in Mexico, Morinaga in Japan, Van Melle in Germany and Spain, Unilever in western Europe, and other alliances around the world. 

There is more to being a family in business for the Bernat family than making money. There are strong philanthropic values translated in the Grupo Chupa Chups's extensive approaches to social responsibility, based on the wish to serve society. Earlier this year, during a visit to Madrid of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, Grupo Chupa Chups signed the world pact of the United Nations, promising to respect human rights, labour relations and the protection of the environment. The Group also collaborates with NGOs, such as UNICEF and other associations around the world.

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