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Marketing

Published August 15th 2014

Is Everyone Laughing at Your Marketing Efforts? Here’s Why They Might Be

How do the insights, or brand associations, that you’ve uncovered affect your campaigns? Did you realise that you’ve been talking about the wrong thing all this time? Do you know that everyone’s laughing at you?

You know how every group of friends has that annoying idiot that everyone tries to avoid? That obnoxious fool that thinks they’re really cool, but everyone else thinks they’re a loser?

Not you?

Ah, well you’re probably the annoying idiot of your friendship group then.

That’s exactly what some brands are like. They undertake their marketing campaigns, they fire out their emails and they broadcast their TV commercials, blissfully unaware that everyone’s laughing at them.

OK, so in truth, no-one’s laughing at benign, harmless marketing campaigns and this is nothing but an obscure, slightly offensive exercise in hyperbole, but the fact is that many brands don’t truly understand how they are perceived by others.

red bull

The public associates specific brands with specific topics, and those cognitive links can be difficult to remould. Red Bull’s association with high energy, extreme sports took years of heavy marketing to build, as did Jack Daniels with a sense of ‘maverick independence’.

Imagine if Red Bull started marketing to aerobics or yoga fans? Both of those demographics may well be suitable target markets for the brand, but that messaging would uncomfortably jar with the perception that consumers have of Red Bull. The same could be said if Jack Daniels began creating adverts centered around the desirability of the drink for city workers after a stressful day at the office.

There would be a striking dissonance between customer perception of a brand, and the manner in which it conducts itself.


Start listening to the gossip

So, to avoid blushes and capitalist faux pas, brands should first listen to what customers associate them with. Here’s some data on three different drinks brands, and how frequently consumers discuss them in relation to different topics.

 

Untitled

Clearly, the artifice (great word) of Coke Zero means that it seldom gets considered for its natural qualities. The same goes for Vitaminwater. However, Coke Zero manages to provoke plenty of buzz around the calorific content, and Vitaminwater gets people talking about its health properties.

See the research

So Coke Zero may wish to amplify this interest with a clever campaign relating to calories (or a lack thereof), and Vitaminwater may well choose to focus on a more health-oriented social strategy.

And that’s exactly what Coke Zero does.

 

coke zero

 

And exactly what Vitaminwater doesn’t.

vitwater

 

For Snapple, the world’s their oyster. They have the opportunity to help foster new associations for their brand.

Perhaps due to the competition’s weak link with ‘nature’, that could provide a useful indication for which topic to focus marketing efforts upon in the future, and forge a close bond between Snapple and Mother Earth.


Oh I just don’t have the energy

Another sector worth snooping around in is the relatively niche ‘energy bar’ industry.

Up next we have three North American brands, each with healthy social followings (almost 200k Twitter followers between them) and significant market presence: Larabar, Clif bar and Kind bar.

Between you and me, their products taste pretty identical too.

So how can these brands ensure that their message remains relevant to their audience whilst also differentiating from the competition?

Well it’s the same story as before. Simply listen to what consumers associate your product with, and continue to amplify those topics that resonate most strongly, or, for the braver brands, attempt to subvert those perceptions with something powerful enough to shift them, assuming that such a shift would be beneficial.

Here are some of the relative associations that consumers have with those three brands.

 

kind bars

 

 

A pattern emerges fairly naturally. Consumers obviously link Clif bar with the ‘energy’ aspect of the food, whereas Larabar is more keenly associated with its gluten-free properties. Kind bar, while also being a gluten-free product, actually gets proportionally discussed far more frequently in relation to health instead.

So we have three similar products operating in a niche sector that may have all used marketing to help carve out sub-niches within it. Or maybe marketing had nothing to do with it …

Observe. Clif bar, the energy guys, know exactly what they’re doing:

 

clif bar example
Larabar? Yep, they’re on it too, with juicy gluten-free content being broadcast into consumer skulls.

 

larabar

 

And Kind? Perhaps they don’t like being thought of as a health brand, or even as a protein product, which the perception data might indicate is a wise choice to create content about. Their social media presence isn’t really focused on anything, though the energy aspect is sometimes referred to.

 

bie month

So, unless the team at Kind are seeking to compete with Clif bar in the energy-focused market segment, and ignore customer perceptions in clawing precious ‘energy’ space via their social content, then they’re probably not doing a great job in meeting, or exceeding, consumer expectations for their brand.


Now, of course this post is not targeted at Kind or Vitaminwater in particular, but what I hope it does convey is a message of listening.

First, listen to what potential customers think of your sector. Then, listen to what they’re saying about your brand. Then, act upon it appropriately.

How do the insights, or brand associations, that you’ve uncovered affect your campaigns? Did you realise that you’ve been talking about the wrong thing all this time? Do you know that everyone’s laughing at you?


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