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Blanding our way to the bottom – Part 3

How Ehrenberg Bass stopped me having to think.

Great advertising bypasses the brain and walks straight into your wallet.

Over the last two days, I’ve questioned the modern marketer’s reliance on Ehrenberg Bass.

Not because I have an issue with the institute’s findings.

But because I think it fosters lazy thinking in some marketers.

Let us consider the challenge of the constant battle for attention.

The institute has successfully sunk the idea of brand loyalty and brand love.

Good on them. I never liked Kevin Roberts anyway.

But “love” seems to be the neat little pigeon-hole into which some marketers have slotted the entire sweep of marketing to women.

According to Bloomberg3, women control 85% of all consumer purchases. They are the great juggernaut of the world economy.

And this critical mass of market spending is being cast to one side by marketers in the battle to make everyone aware of their brand.

The issue for marketers is, and always has been, the constant balance between rational messages and emotional attachment.

As Binet & Field have shown, rational messages have short term impacts.

The impacts of relevant emotional messages are hard to measure in the short term. But, over the long term, these messages develop incredible power in terms of salience and memorability with customers. They are like the compound interest of marketing.

The crux of the whole issue of marketing to women is salience.

Salience, made effective through the creation of memorable brand assets.

“Because you’re worth it” might seem trite to men, but it makes sense to women.

Or the Dove, “Real Beauty” campaign – which seems to be selling a truck load of product.

Or the recent “Like a Girl” campaign for Always. Part of its effectiveness was the 30-year history of puberty-education the brand had. It was a salient piece.

Compare these with the recent Audi “What do I tell my daughter” ad. By riding the coat tails of a societal trend, they ended up with a “nice to say, nice to hear” piece that has no real effect on the market because it doesn’t come from the product or draw a line of relevance between the customer’s day-to-day needs and the benefit (however general) of the product.

And, as the internet was quick to ask, “If equality is so important, why are there no women on Audi’s board?”

I’ve always like the OMO “Dirt is Good” campaign.

The insight was garnered from talking to their main market – mothers.

They asked them about their lives, not their laundry, and came up with a delightful campaign talking about happy healthy kids.

A campaign which didn’t alienate men. Or non-mothers. But which was salient to the mass of the market buying the product.

And which paid off for the business in spades.

Why am I going all “marketing to women”?
Not because I’m an expert. (If you want an expert in this, talk to Bec Brideson. Full disclosure. She’s a friend. Her husband and I tell lies to each other about fishing. She has spent ten years focused on understanding how to leverage a woman’s relationship with shopping. She knows stuff.)

I’m doing this because I’m disappointed with the myopic view of the marketing status quo exhibited by many marketers. How can they embrace the science of Ehrenberg Bass and ignore the data around the power of the principal purchaser?

If you want long-term success, build an emotionally relevant brand.

Start with great advertising, the stuff that bypasses the brain and walks into your heart.

A great ad will stop you having to think. And mass awareness just increases the power of piece.

But great marketing thinking doesn’t occur if we don’t ask the salient questions.

If 80% of your market is men, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from what men like and how your brand fits their life.

If 80% of your market is women, develop your marketing based around an insight gleaned from an understanding of women.

If your market is split 50/50, take a position and go all Ehrenberg Bass.

Go for mass awareness.

But always remember the battle is for mental and physical salience.

Capture my heart and my mind will follow.


3 July 22, 2016, Chart Attack

Blanding our way to the bottom – Part 1 of 3

Don’t confuse ‘Mass Awareness” with “Message Neutrality”.

Much has been made of the great work being done by Ehrenberg Bass in South Australia.

So much so, many marketers are choosing not to segment their markets at all.

A recent conversation with a prospective client highlighted what appears to be a growing mind-set in many Australian marketers.

When asked about market segmentation, and messaging to different customer types, the response was, “We don’t need to target women, we’re ‘Ehrenberg Bass’.”

I think they’re talking horse nuggets.

But I don’t blame Ehrenberg Bass.

To be fair to the team at the institute, they make their case very well.

The thought is simple. Mass awareness is more effective than segmented messaging.

The insight is a cannon over the bows of traditional marketing promises. Customers aren’t loyal to brands. (“72% of people who buy Coke also buy Pepsi.”)

There are a number of Commandments for their growing horde of disciples. Ten, as it turns out. The humility of the institute might suggest these are more golden threads than golden rules. But I’m just guessing.

1:    The new metrics are not about differentiation.

2:    Most customers don’t see brands as having a difference, or that the difference actually matters.

3:    The real battle is about salience – being relevant to the customer in some way – and memorability – ensuring the customer remembers your brand at the point of purchase.

4:    The real need is to build memory structures.

5:    Make the brand easy to like, easy to memorise and easy to recall.

6:    Make it easy for the customer to buy you again and again and again.

7:    Marketing is, according to the institute, a constant battle for attention. Not love.

8:    The key goal is mental and physical availability.

9:    If your share of voice is above the market mean, and your offer is competitive, you’re more likely to grow your business.

10:  If your share of voice is below the market mean, you’ll struggle.

There you go, marketing manager.

All your thinking has been done.

Go mass. Then go shopping.

However. There is a small fault in this logic.

Not with the findings of The Ehrenberg Bass Institute.

But in the implementation.

To grow brand share, the marketer must spend above the market mean.

If everyone is spending more, the market media spend will increase.

Which means, unless the marketer is spending increasingly more on mass awareness every year, they will be going backwards.

The thinking, to me anyway, is triggering a media arms race.

An increase in media spend, with brands either clearly spelling out the logical superiority of their offer or hitch-hiking on the societal trend of creating a brand with a purpose (“getting Sinek-y”).

And, while this is great news for media companies, and people who like putting pretty pictures next to a manifesto, it dumbs down advertising.

It stops us thinking about how we should connect and essentially says, “Make the logo bigger” – only in a scientific way.

Marketers need to look beyond the science of media and peer into the abyss of people’s emotions.

If you want to use the power of mass awareness, you can’t bland people into submission.

To borrow from Euripides, how can Ehrenberg Bass help you if you don’t help yourself?

Don’t just make the logo bigger. Make the brand take a bigger place in people’s hearts.

But more on that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.