What Happens With Low-Quality Awareness

The two master marketing KPIs are awareness and household penetration. If you aren’t moving both consistent with your communications, it’s time to iterate. 

The problem is more subtle when you succeed in building awareness just fine, but household penetration doesn’t grow afterward. 

It’s a thing. It really is. It just happened to one of my up-until-recently-fast-growing clients.

Awareness-building campaigns that don’t grow households may still grow velocities (though more slowly). This tempts you to ignore the problem. How is this possible?

These half-competent campaigns function as reminders to existing fans, perhaps nudging just one more purchase in the monitored period (usually quarters). Eventually, this effect will stop contributing to baseline growth. Often, it’s a temporary boost, though, a phenomenon endemic to the world of trade promotions for legacy brands at mature levels of scale. 

The missing component in these campaigns is the persuasion of a meaningful audience within the total group that received the communications. In many cases, the ads involved don’t make a persuasive argument. They don’t take time to explain a) the problem and b) how using Brand X will help you solve it better than existing alternatives. They don’t use memorable storytelling scenarios to dramatize this logic of transformation. 

You can’t drive household penetration forever by simply listing off product attributes (even if you picked the most competitively advantaged ones). You need some narrative to help viewers absorb the ‘why.’ 

A campaign with no ‘why’ will raise trademark awareness but underperform on driving trials (i.e., new households). This is especially true in Phase 4 and beyond when your growth relies primarily on converting non-geeks to your cause. Your cutting-edge attribute(s) now need a story.

Hint:: this is different than educating consumers about a weird attribute, a pedantic process not suited to converting the masses. Connecting your magical attribute to a mass-market outcome is the requirement of your communications campaign. 

Dr. James Richardson

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