A secret brand is a good or service that is provided for sale to consumers or other businesses, but without any overt attempts to market those products to potential buyers. In some cases, the main form of advertising for these types of products is word of mouth, with satisfied customers recommending the goods and services to others in their personal and business networks. The products marketed under a secret brand are usually highly specialized and intended for use by a relatively small niche market. While sometimes associated with luxury goods, manufacturers will also sometimes use the secret brand as a marketing approach that makes it possible to break into new markets without utilizing any connections or references to products already marketed by the company’s other and more prominent brands.
There are several characteristics that are common to a secret brand. One is known as the scarcity value. This has to do with the fact that the products are only available through certain means and then only to customers that meet certain criteria. A scarcity approach can often increase the desire of certain consumers to purchase and own the products, since not just anyone can do so.
Another aspect of the secret brand is the ability to introduce products into a new market, without relying on the existing reputation of the company’s other brands to make that impact. At times, this is done when the new products are somewhat experimental, allowing the company to quietly withdraw the products if they don’t sell, with no damage to the reputation the business enjoys with its wider client base. For example, a casual clothing manufacturer may decide to launch a discreet line of formal attire, and may even use its distribution network to get the new line into some of its outlets, although using a different brand name and a sales team devoted specifically to that new line. If the product does attract consumers and build up clientele, the company may choose to reveal the connection, or allow the discreet or secret brand strategy to quietly continue.
Whether as a way to experiment a bit while protecting the reputation of the main brands, or as a way to break into new markets in a quiet manner, the secret brand approach has been around for many decades. Over time, the relationships between the brand and the prominent owner may be revealed, while at other times the relationship remains the proprietary knowledge of a select few. The approach has been successfully used in just about every type of industry, ranging from clothing to electronics and even to the marketing of software products that are developed to meet the needs of small but important niche markets.