British monarchy as a commercial brand?

It was estimated that the royal baby could boost the British economy by 240 million pounds.

Questions:

1. Would you say that the birth of the royal boy really may have an impact, at least short lived, on the British economy?

2. Does the British monarchy deliberately “brand” itself somehow or is it more about the fact that the outside world (media, etc.) brands the British monarchy?

Answers:

Pauline Maclaran, Professor of Marketing & Consumer Research in the School of Management, Royal Holloway

1. Yes, I think the royal baby will give a boost to the British economy. First of all many people will use this as an excuse to celebrate, whether they are royalist or not – it’s an event that brings people together and lifts their spirits, especially in a time of economic recession when many people cannot afford to go abroad on extravagant holidays. Many retailers are using the event as an excuse to promote their products and making creative displays around the royal baby theme to entice consumers to come in and spend money. Because the birth has attracted international interest, it will also boost tourism as it’s a good news story about Britain and puts the British monarchy in the spotlight once again.  There will be lots of sales of souvenir royal baby items like mugs and bibs etc, as well as the more expensive commemorative chinaware that collectors will be seeking. These things will all have a fairly short term effect. The  longer term effect will be the fashion trends in the babywear and equipment markets. Kate has hugely influenced fashion and it is likely the choices for her baby will do the same. We already see this influence for example in the sales of moses baskets which soared after she was reported to have bought one.

2. The British Monarchy has taken a much more professional approach to maintaining its image in recent years, and particularly since all the scandals of the 80s and 90s. To say they brand themselves deliberately is probably a bit crude but they definitely adopt many of the key principles of branding. We can see how they very effectively turned around the image of Charles and Camilla and, overall, how the British monarchy has a much more positive image in recent years that is seen to bridge both tradition and contemporary times. A lot of this is due to the young royals been seen as more informal and less remote as well as glamorous!  I think this increasing informality and approachability has been a deliberate strategy to make the monarchy seem more relevant to people and, of course, brands have to do the same or they fall out of favour.

Stuart Roper, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

1. I am always somewhat sceptical about such economic predictions. I wonder where the extra money is coming from for a start? There may be some extra spending but frankly there is more chance of that being due to the unusually very hot weather we have been having in the UK recently, with many more people heading for the coast and having barbecues etc.

2. Regarding the Royal family being a brand. I don’t think they themselves would see it in such vulgar commercial terms, however, I understand that the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip has been known to refer to the immediate family as ” the firm”. It could be looked upon as a brand in that it is subject to indicators of its popularity and could have a commercial worth placed upon it. This all gets quite complicated in terms of brand architecture, however, and the Royals could be placed within the overall GB or UK brand. Nation branding being a growth area in the study of brand management.

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