Customer branding of commodity products: The customer-developed brand
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The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the process and implications of customer branding of commodity products. Customer branding is defined by the authors as a process in which a customer or customers define, label and seek to purchase an otherwise undifferentiated or unbranded product. The customer(s) can be anywhere along the value chain and may be intermediate, industrial or end-user customers. There are many historical examples of customer branding (which sometimes turned into strong corporate brands), and customer branding may be much more common today than marketers realise. As the authors show, it still exists in modern commodity markets. Marketing theory has lost the understanding of this concept. By considering the product chain and the process of branding when customers rather than marketers enact it, the paper provides a new insight into the process of branding in general, and proposes that the evolution of brands can move from a customer-branded product to strong corporate brands. The authors contend that customer branding exists and by understanding the phenomena, value chain participants can increase revenue and improve product movement.