It is easy to measure sales being made now, but if a brand is to grow must also influence people who are not yet ready to buy. It must influence people who do not yet know they want to buy the category, never mind a specific brand. So how do you know whether your marketing is likely to generate future sales?
There are three types of potential buyer to consider and each one presents a different challenge; both in terms of encouraging them to choose your brand the next time they buy the category and in terms of measurement.
- People who buy the category and have never tried your brand These people might be the most likely to buy your brand in the near future. Maybe they simply have never heard of it (did you know that 50 percent of category buyers are unaware of the average new product a year after launch?) or maybe they simply are not in the purchase window right now.
- People who are not buying the category but might do so in future. This is an important group of potential buyers – particularly for big brands that benefit disproportionately when category penetration grows – but it is also the one that is not likely on the brand’s radar. Life events or changing needs can suddenly make a prospect out of someone who was not previously considered a target. But remember, these people are not blank slates. Their purchase decision will be influenced by all their pre-existing exposure to the brand, whether it is paid, owned, earned or incidental.
- People who buy the category, experienced your brand in the past but do not use it now These people are possibly the most difficult to persuade, particularly if they made a deliberate decision not to buy your brand in the past. Maybe they had a bad experience, or they discovered another brand that was more attractive. Either way, the challenge is to get these people to reconsider what they know about your brand and not to reject it automatically.
In most cases, the current behavior of these three groups will give you little clue as to whether they are likely to buy your brand in future. The only way to know whether an individual is predisposed to buy your brand is to measure their latent brand associations – feelings, impressions and ideas related to the brand – and assess whether their predisposition to buy your brand is greater than for the competition.
Even then, for any given individual, random events, physical availability and discovering unknown brands when shopping or researching a category, could over-ride their predisposition. However, on average, if people are predisposed to buy a brand the probability that they will do so is far higher than if they are indisposed. Mass marketing, after all, is a probability game. You win if your brand gains more than its fair share of new category buyers.
Does this buyer classification prompt any ideas?