One of the most difficult challenges a marketing organization faces is how to regrow a brand that has appeared to reach the Maturity stage of the Product Life Cycle. We have touched on this many times including our recent post dealing with the beverage industry and our 2014 post of how marketers were trying to revive the Smith Brothers brand of cough drops.
However, the problems associated with re-growing a leading brand become even more difficult when the company behind the brand has devoted little attention to it for a significant period. When this happens, if there is value in the market, competitors will take notice and will invariably take advantage by marketing their own offerings. Once the former market leader figures out they need to pay more attention to their product, competitors may have assumed a commanding position that will be difficult for the original market leader to recover.
An example of this can be found in this story from the Washington Post. It discusses how MapQuest, a once dominate online resource for providing maps for travelers, has fallen on hard times and is now struggling to reinvent itself. The problem befallen MapQuest are nearly textbook in terms of how a brand loses a dominate market position. During the dotcom frenzy of the late 1990s, MapQuest was purchased by AOL, which invested little in the product over the next 10 or so years. Competitors, most notably Google, then came in with superior offerings leaving MapQuest as a small, bit player.
Yet, things may not be totally dead at MapQuest. Understanding the brand is still widely recognized, the company is now making an effort to improve their product. They have a long way to go, but with AOL now being part of Verizon, maybe MapQuest will once again be a player in the mapping market.