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Consideration, not awareness

March 28, 2010

The word awareness is overused. I hear advertising sales executives sell branding awareness campaigns. I hear marketer’s launch products with a target awareness figure as a primary measure of success, closely followed by share of voice. I thought we’d moved on from this.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the basics here. If nobody knows about your new product or service then they’re less likely to buy it. But, isn’t that it? It’s just basics? My Mum is aware of my Tag Heuer watch and my Macbook Pro, but she’s not about to go and buy either. Ok, “It’s not about overall awareness”, I hear you say, “We look at awareness with 25-34 year old urban males, with high disposable income.” Really? But how many of them are actually considering buying your brand or know someone else who is? By all means, measure awareness, just don’t make it a target in your marketing plan. Use it to calculate more useful targets.

Here’s the key word, CONSIDERATION. Anyone who works in marketing should be in the game of converting those who are considering buying their product. A gardener won’t go knocking on the doors of a high rise block of flats. He won’t measure his advertising effectiveness by how many of the people in a block of flats knows about his business.

I’ve seen many research presentations that open with ‘awareness has increased by x% year on year.’ I’ve also seen many that close with, “If we can raise awareness by x percentage points this should translate into x number of customers. Seriously, I’m not making up scenario’s here. I know there are many of you out there who will share my disbelief but it is still happening.

I believe the opening line of a research presentation should say ‘x consumers are currently considering buying our product.’ If the research goes on to tell that only x% actually bought, we know we have a problem. We can dive deeper to understand what that problem is. Have we targeted the wrong customer segment with our message? Are our perceived benefits not as good as the competition? Are current customers turning away from us? Do we need to launch a new product?

The consideration indicator lets us directly link customers with purchase. It’s an indicator that we can do something about. It removes inefficiencies. It stops us dropping leaflets in high rise flats. It streamlines your brand strategy. If consideration becomes a primary target it asks questions that can tighten a strategy.

  • What are the main considerations for purchasing a product or service in your market?

What are the key drivers of choice in your market? Identify the functional and emotional drivers that lead to the choice of a brand or product. Work out which are merely cost of entry and which can mean the difference in choice of one brand vs another.

  • Which benefits can you own that will make your brand more likely to be considered than a competitor’s?

It’s important to focus on what you’re good at. You might consider tackling the competition head on based on popular drivers of choice in the category, but there’s no point if your brand can’t consistently deliver on these drivers.

  • Which customer is most likely to consider these benefits more valuable?

There are many methods of segmentation. One way is to segment your target audience by the drivers of choice that are most important to them – and (if you’re doing it right) that you deliver on better than the competition.

I know there are many of you that will already be doing this. For the rest, this only works if you measure the drivers at regular periods over time. Your research presentation should start with the latest performance against these drivers as the headline, not how your awareness is tracking. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ay examples you might have experienced.


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  1. paulalexgray permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:21 pm

    Andy, I couldn’t agree more.

    Every day going into the city on the bus I see ads and promotions, giveaways and competitions all of which are essentially clamoring to get attention – *any* attention. And it works.

    Although we all know that we see hundreds of ads per day I can only recall a few – I remember seeing an ad for a Foxtel High school musical show; Funeral insurance; The Telstra T-Hub; and the Commonwealth Bank’s highly unique advertising about how they live in my world/are determined to be different/care about me – or something like that.

    Nothing that I’m interested in at all. Whilst I’m aware, my consideration is zilch.

    This post made me think of the AIDA model – a classic and perhaps simplistic one but which I think echoes some of your key points. I.e. successful marketing efforts need to not only generate awareness but also need to go through process of creating Interest, then Desire and ideally Action.

    I agree with your argument that consideration is a better metric and I think that client-side marketers and agencies need to focus more on the actions that will transform this consideration into the action of buying the product or service. To make this happen, the product/service must of course be valuable, relevant and compelling for the target audience.

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