‘I am not influenced by advertising. I make up my own mind what to buy’. How many times has one of your friends said this to you? Of course, they are 50 percent right and 50 percent wrong. They do make up their own minds but that decision is likely influenced by advertising along with a host of other forgotten contacts with the brand.
In a recent blog post I suggested that provided people attend to an ad enough that it leaves associations linked to the brand in memory the advertising will have done its job. I went on to say,
“Later, when people try to make up their minds about a purchase, the ideas and feelings left by the advertising will help shape their decision making, predisposing them to choose the advertised brand. If the same advertising had reached people while shopping, then the impression would be more likely discounted as ‘just advertising trying to sell me something’.”
Of course, the problem with trying to target someone during the buying process is that you will likely need a very different type of ad; one intended to make a direct sale with an added value offer or discount designed to appeal to a more deliberative mindset. And guess what? Every other brand has access to the same data, same targeting and can play the same discount game. This is not where brands are built, it is where they are sold.
However, you can stack the deck in your favor if you have done a good job of building brand predisposition before people even start thinking about making a purchase in your category. No one spends time watching videos on YouTube, scanning their Facebook newsfeed or watching TV in order to think about brands. However, these mindless moments, when people are seeking distraction, entertainment or information are just the times when brands are built because people’s mental defenses are down.
Sure people will skip ads if they can, but the right content can stop that and seed ideas, memories and associations that influence later purchase decisions. This is why advertising needs to evoke an emotional response, first to engage people’s attention and then to ensure that the impressions conveyed last long enough to influence behavior at a later date. The more remarkable, inspirational or useful your content the more likely it is to leave a positive impression. But, as we point out in Make a Lasting Impression, this impression must be linked to the brand in people’s minds, because when they think about making a purchase people think about brands not advertising.
Of course, ad exposure is not the only mindless moment that helps build a brand: unsolicited word of mouth, news coverage and sponsorship can all influence predisposition. And do not forget the biggest mindless moment: usage. After an initial assessment how many times do you consciously review how well a product or service delivers on its promise?
Written by Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown.