Grow your brand: Memory Structures

Do consumers fall in love with brands or is brand loyalty really dead? In his book, ‘How brands grow’, Byron Sharp lifts the lid on how consumers really shop, suggesting that brands invariably end up in one of three categories: Repertoire, Destination or Long-Term. Over the next few weeks we’ll delve into the three definitions and discuss the opportunities that they present for brands. Here, we explore the role that memory plays.

The opinions of those around us are vital to build positive 'Memory Structures'

Many marketers still subscribe to a romantic notion of brand loyalty (myself included), but from a practical point of view this can be misguided. The majority of consumers shop on auto-pilot, driven by a subconscious collection of previous product and brand experiences, not an undying love for the brand. The challenge for modern marketers is to understand how their consumers shop, then set strategies accordingly to ensure their brands form a part of this collective.

According to Byron Sharpe, sophisticated Mass Marketing is the solution: continuously reaching all buyers of a product category, focussing marketing efforts on two factors:

  1. Physical Availability – maximising distribution to ensure that your products are easy to buy
  2. Mental Availability – creating strong, iconic brand assets and building distinctive memory structures by being constantly ‘on-air’

The terms ‘reach’, ‘trial’ and ‘penetration’ have become the Holy Grail for many FMCG manufacturers.

How to build on this to improve your marketing strategy

We certainly don't disagree with Sharp but we do have something to add. By relying solely on the iconic assets of a brand to build memory structures, marketers overlook the real life experiences that shape a consumer’s perception of a brand. Strong visual identity is imperative, but so are the opinions of those around us; recommendations from friends are still the most trusted form of advertising (see Nielsen). Whether or not you subscribe to the power of word-of-mouth, conversations are being had about your brand and memory structures are being made, albeit out of sight of most marketers.

There is an opportunity here for savvy brands to incorporate consumers into their mass marketing strategy. By informing and providing the tools (samples, behind the scenes access, exclusive content etc.) to enhance those conversations, brands can influence the memory structures and subsequent triggers formed, increasing the likelihood of their products standing out from the crowd.

Because this takes place in the real world, with real people, in real households it essentially grants marketers a seat at the kitchen table; an invitation to inform the conversations about their brands, and subsequently what goes on the shopping list.

The key word is of course ‘mass’ and it is possible to deliver this activity at scale. At trnd, we help brands grow by identifying, educating and then activating millions of households who love to work with brands, to help power their marketing.

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