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Brand Manager

What They Do

Marketing Managers Career Video

Insider Info

Did you ever wonder how your favorite products get to the store shelf? For that, you can thank brand managers. They are the thinkers and planners behind today's marketplace. They're responsible for the many P's of marketing: product, price, package, promotion, placement and, of course, profit.

Brand managers are also called product managers or marketing managers. They're in charge of the whole process of developing a product, from a baby concept to a full-grown item in your cupboard or closet. They come up with an idea for a product, decide how to make it, how to package it, how much to sell it for, where to sell it, how to get it to those stores and how to promote it once it's on the market.

They push their products through these stages with a little help from their advertising and sales friends. Brand managers consult with special teams of marketing professionals, including researchers who monitor market trends.

They listen to their recommendations and make decisions from there, determining how much money they want to make when launching a new product and weighing its possible profit against the cost of making it. When managing established brands, they find ways to make consumers into repeat consumers -- buyers who keep coming back for more.

"We tell our communication manager what our objectives are, and she'll come back with a recommendation on what type of media we should use to promote the product," says Rob Peter. He is product manager of a fruit beverage manufacturing company.

"What we do as a marketing group here is share our business reviews with the whole marketing team, take input from both sales and marketing, and encapsulate all the input into one plan."

Peter says this plan goes toward managing all aspects of old and new brands. "This is applied to both new and existing products, from creating new packaging to improve our existing packaging," he says. "We also apply it to where we are in the world of pricing and distribution -- where the product is sold and how much we're selling it for."

"There are a number of tools you can use to market a brand -- how much your pricing should be, what your advertising strategy should be, what you have in the store in terms of displays and other considerations," says Cincinnati-based Esi Eggleston. She is marketing director for a beauty care line.

"It's not just you at the helm. You work with people who work in product development and research and development, who bring a new product to life. There's also a separate department that develops the packaging.

"You work with the sales department as well, to figure out how the product should be sold and developed in your client stores. And you work with the finance department to determine what pricing makes the most sense and make certain the product is profitable.

"We also have a consumer knowledge group, our market researchers. We work with them to make sure the pricing is reasonable and learn what consumers want."

Eggleston says brand managers oversee advertising projects to make sure consumers are aware of the product. "You need to know how to reach consumers with your message. And not just the content of the message, but what medium to use and how it will look. You decide whether or not you'll use television advertising, print advertising, free sampling, the Internet, or sponsoring a program or an event."

When they're not pouring over research and writing up ideas at their desks, brand managers are chatting on their cellphones while jetting off to meetings and promotional events. As different project demands vary from day to day, their work environment and schedules change constantly.

"Where you are and what you're doing changes from week to week, depending on what promotions you've got on the go," says Erin Duncan. She is the brand manager for an international marketer of fresh produce. "But there's a fair amount of desk work."

Peter says both local and international travel is a large part of his job description. "You need to get outside your four walls and see what the marketplace is actually doing," he says.

"A couple years ago, I was on the China initiative, which took me over to China on several trips. You need to go to the trade shows to go see what's new and what's coming up in your industry. But you also need to go spend time close to home with the street-level sales force -- the people who look after accounts at the store level."

Eggleston agrees on the importance of being mobile. "Probably once every two weeks you'll be flying somewhere," she says.

"Depending on how far-reaching your company is, you might have different locations you have to visit. You might have to go to a technical center or meet with your advertising agency -- places that might not be in your immediate area. You might also have to travel to meet with your target consumers when doing consumer research."

Brand managers can work long hours, with work obligations often overlapping with weekends. "You have your traditional Monday-to-Friday workweek, but then there's also a lot of travel involved and events that take place on weekends," says Duncan.

"I'd say it works out to about 50 hours a week on average," says Eggleston. "How that falls depends on how you manage it."

Besides occasionally lugging samples of your product to meetings or events, there are no special physical requirements to this job. "It depends on your product, because sometimes you'll have to be carting your product around," says Duncan. "But someone with physical disabilities can always have someone help them with that."

At a Glance

Be in charge of developing a product

  • You have to be able to communicate with salespeople, marketing types and communication specialists
  • This job can often involve long hours
  • A degree in marketing or business administration is a good place to start


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