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Does the Marketing Law of Division Add Up?

Flickr photo by mewpaperarts

I was hoping that The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing‘s  Law of Division (#10) would offer applicable wisdom. Unfortunately, it merely states the obvious:

Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.”

In other words, “Medical Technology” breaks up into other segments: medical devices, pharmaceuticals, contract manufacturing, start-ups, cancer meds, drug emitting devices, etc.

It would seem more appropriate to associate this information with marketing “law” number two, The Law of the Category, but we’ll move on.

The main insight I could glean from The Law of Division is:

Companies make a mistake when they try and take a well-known brand name in one category and use the same brand name in another category.”

But I predict that many, many individuals and companies would disagree with this statement.

Authors of this “law”, Al Ries and Jack Trout, are essentially saying that a company,  like Johnson and Johnson, that makes everything  from consumer health products (Band-Aids, Listerine, Splenda, etc.) to medical device and diagnostics products, wouldn’t be all that successful because they bridge their brand into somewhat unrelated categories.

But the reality is that they are successful in their effort.

So what gives?

Does this marketing “law” no longer apply in today’s tech-centric, social media communication world?

Does this mean that if you’ve got a strong brand name in diabetic devices that you wouldn’t be just as successful taking that brand into surgical handpieces?

What do you think?

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