Brands in the News

Brands to Watch in 2018

2 Jan 2018  

Happy New Year! At the start of each year, I like to offer a brand forecast. Like the year that just ended, 2018 will bring opportunities and challenges for many brands. Here are a few in particular to watch.


Many old guard, brick and mortar retailers are struggling, and Sears in particular lost its way long ago. In fact, it is hard to think of a brand having more trouble than Sears. Sales are falling quickly—Sears Holdings revenues have fallen from almost $40 billion in its 2013 fiscal year to a little over $20 billion in 2017.

The question for 2018: will Sears survive?

I suspect not. There is a good chance that this will be the year Sears shuts down and liquidates assets.


Times are good at Apple. The company is opening its massive new headquarters building in Cupertino and closing in on a $1 trillion valuation.

Still, one has to wonder if Apple can keep it all going. The iconic new building could easily become a symbol of hubris, a jump the shark sort of moment.

I suspect momentum will continue in 2018. The iPhone is virtually unchallenged, and people are apparently happy to pay the new $1,000 price. Why not $1,500 next year? Perhaps Apple will make notable headway with one of its other products, too.

Donald Trump

Trump was on my list for 2017 and is back on the list, for obvious reasons. I continue to wonder if he will broaden his brand, smooth the edges and reach out to a broader base.

There is certainly reason for him to make such a move—Trump’s candidates have been defeated in a series of races this year. Redefining his brand would be easy to do. Trump just has to dial back the controversial comments and focus on events and actions that seem both presidential and logical.

Will he?

I predict not. Trump has had many opportunities to mellow his brand, but he continues to be polarizing and divisive. Look for more of the same in 2018.

General Mills

This old, established corporation isn’t usually at the top of a brands-to-watch list. Cereal is a fine business, but it isn’t captivating.

This year, however, General Mills is a company to watch due to one category in particular: yogurt.

Over the past decade, Chobani has become a leader in the United States yogurt category. Dannon started fighting back several years ago and managed to stabilize its business. General Mills’s Yoplait, however, continues to struggle.

Will General Mills and Yoplait successfully fight back in 2018?

I am not optimistic. The company’s efforts to date have been modest. I suspect a focus on the P&L is causing General Mills to scale back the defensive spending to protect short-term profits. This approach will lead to further share losses in 2018.


The NFL had a rough 2017. Player protests attracted a lot of unwelcome attention, studies highlighted the risk of brain damage to players and viewership is down.

With all this negative news, one has to wonder about the Super Bowl. Will advertisers show up? Will they continue to invest in big marketing campaigns?

My prediction: We will still see huge Super Bowl campaigns, for the simple reason that there are not great alternatives. If you want to quickly reach a large number of people in the United States, the Super Bowl is your best–perhaps only–option.

Still, demand will be down and prices will start to fall.

Best wishes for a great 2018.

1 Response

  1. Thom Disch says:

    Great observations! I wonder what will be the new rising brand stories for 2018? What will be the driving force that enables them to rise above other brands? What role will social media play in bringing value to brands in 2018?

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