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Double Jeopardy?

- "How Brands
Grow Part 2" Review
Published on November 19, 2015

Joe GoyderFollow
53 9 3
Director at Butterfly London

How Brands Grow, the first book by Byron Sharp, was highly influential, so I was
keen to read Part II, in which he and Jenni Romaniuk share more about the key
concepts in their theory, and how they should be applied. This blog is an
unapologetically long read but its a lot less long than the book, so bear with
me. Please note that the views expressed are my own, and not those of The Value
Engineers. Theyre also based on my own experience of European food and car
marketing I leave you to decide if they have broader relevance.
Marketing relies on both creativity and science to succeed. Getting creative and
mathematical people to work together needs teamwork, and its really important
that both sides respect each others strengths. The Ehrenberg Bass Institute clearly
represent a fairly left brain approach to marketing. My disappointment in this book
is the disparaging attitude Jenni and Byron show towards marketers, who are
portrayed as naive and haphazard. Their approach is to dismiss all that has gone
before, determined that their way is the only way to grow a brand. Im going to try
to see beyond their dismissive attitude to my peers and colleagues in marketing to
provide a constructive review of the book.

An important principle of How Brands Grow is the focus on mental availability.

This is an interesting approach to understanding how we communicate with
consumers. It recommends we keep a rounded understanding of the many ways in
which people encounter our brands using it, seeing people use it, through
advertising, seeing branded delivery trucks, social media and word of mouth. The
recommendation to stick with long used branding devices to build memory
structures also sounds like prudent advice. Id like to hear more about how
memory is encoded in the brain and the implications for marketing.

Jenni and Byron write at length about double jeopardy the observation that
small brands have both lower penetration, and also lower loyalty. This information
has been available in every Worldpanel data set weve looked at for decades, but
its interesting to see the consistency across categories and markets. A bit more
detail on how brands escape the trap of being small, with fewer, less loyal buyers
would be helpful here. In the marketplace many fast growing brands by
definition are currently small, and the book tells us little about how small brands
overcome their disadvantages to grow.

Id also question whether the double jeopardy rule is really a rule about brands or a
rule about markets. When brands hit the shelf, in real marketplaces, selling to real
people, most people buy most brands. This is hardly surprising people like to try
new things, have a repertoire of purchases, and modern retail presents a wide range
of options. The niceties of brand positioning tend to be forgotten when your
product is on a gondola end at half price, when it will be bought by people who
wouldnt normally choose your brand, or even your category. So consumers tend to
buy lots of products and dont display the loyalty Byron thinks marketers are
obsessed with.

The book doesnt address the fact that brands do, nonetheless, appeal to slightly
different groups of people. When I was last clientside at Innocent, our products had
a small but significant bias towards younger upmarket households, and an above
average tendency to read the Guardian. Tropicana buyers had a slight bias towards
older upmarket households, and liked reading the Mirror. Overall the populations
are similar, but differences, which reflect the brand values, can be discerned. Byron
and Jenni note that online shoppers are more loyal to brands than those who shop
in stores, and this may support my hypothesis that double jeopardy has more to do
with markets than brands. Their conclusion about double jeopardy that theres no
point segmenting and positioning seems risky. Your core target is the people who
will buy your brand a bit more often than the competitors, even when its sold at
full price, and consequently these customers are often more profitable than the
ones that only buy when theres a promotion. Your advertising does need to reach a
lot of people, but its sensible to weight it towards those who have the greatest
affinity for your brand. If you can appeal to the whole market fine but there is a
risk that new market entrants will create a focussed proposition that has greater
appeal to your core buyers, and leaves you reliant on promotions to keep your
brand going (e.g. Walkers Sensations challenges with Kettle Chips, Tyrrells et al
circa 2005-2010).

In the book they tell us that The profile of your brands customer base should
follow that of your categorys customer base. If it doesnt, find out why your
market is restricted, and fix it if you can. Use partition analysis to make
sure you are playing in the whole market, and not locking the brand out of
key subcategories because you dont offer a suitable variant. Following this
logic, Innocent needs to launch cheap concentrated juice. Red Bull needs a healthy
variant. Hendricks need a low cost gin for the less affluent. This is clearly not true.
The existence of a space in a market does not mean its an opportunity for your
brand. Most brands have limited resources, so activity needs to be prioritised, and
you prioritise the parts of the market where your brand has the most helpful
associations, and a marginally better likelihood of success. Brand extensions often
fail, and getting the branding right is critical if your extension is to succeed. If a
brand attempts to stretch into a new partition where its brand associations are
unhelpful, its likely to fail. The authors theory seems to be based on the
assumption that all brands want to dominate the market they operate in. Some
brands are attempting to leverage the factory theyve got and dont want to move
into new areas requiring a different technology. Some brands (e.g. Brewdog,
Innocent) are owned by founders who have principles and these define where they
will operate, and the segment of consumers to whom they will appeal. So the
advice given here feels both risky and grounded in assumptions that may not be
relevant to brands seeking growth.

The authors also advise us to target multiple needstates (which Byron and Jenni
call Category Entry Points or CEPs) Traditional texts tell us that a strong
brand equals a strongly positioned brand. We have shown this to be
misguided strong brands dont rely on a single proposition but are
mentally available across a wide range of category needs. If you want to
create a big brand you need to link the brand to the many CEPs in the
category not just one or two. In a world of unlimited marketing budgets this
advice would be fine, but a smaller brand with limited budget is likely to succeed
by picking one or two needstates that are particularly relevant and building out
from there. The advice on target consumers and needstates may be right for big
brands who want to get a bit bigger, but it seems entirely wrong for small brands
who need to focus their resources to build their business.
The authors also dislike the way we use the word differentiation:

Differentiation is put forward as a meaningful difference that leads to

purchase so if your car offers all wheel drive when no other car does
then buyers should flock to your brand because it has something other
brands do not Distinctiveness is the brands identity and how it is
recognised, and includes any sensory element that triggers the brand
(visual, auditory, smell, touch). Distinctiveness is not why you buy
something but how you know which brand it is or how you find it These
are very separate concepts mixing them up is simply sloppy thinking.

Some products like Doritos have a clear, measurable sensory advantage over its
competitors a source of functional differentiation and can be advertised
successfully by talking about bold flavour - and layering on some emotional
boldness at the same time.

Some, like innocent juice, are not measurably different from the competitor, so
need to have emotional benefits injected through branding. Is this sloppy thinking?
Or just understanding that sometimes differentiation is functional and sometimes
its emotional? I dont think theres much to be gained by bandying synonyms in
this way.

The authors dont like it when marketers describe their audience in anything other
than a set of statistics A really dangerous practice in modern marketing is to
describe a market segment as a single person: for example, our target
consumer is Nicole, shes 28 years old, is passionate about the environment
and sustainability, shops at whole foods market, likes new experiences,
reads classic literature but also watches Keeping up with the Kardashians
as a gulty pleasure....This is the height of inane target marketing lazy
dangerous thinking that often finds its ways into advertising and media
plans, and the brand ends up talking to only a fraction of its potential
market. Any decent insight manager knows that there are a range of ways to
describe your audience, depending on who youre talking to. These should include
a mathematical statement of their buyer base, defined demographically,
geographically and attitudinally, with an analysis of the differences between heavy,
medium and light consumers. Youll also need a snappy description of the key
group they want to target, to give your creative colleagues some strategic
inspiration from which they can develop a campaign. Besides which, you cant go
on a depth interview with an average. You need to pick some actual real live
people who represent your customer base, and this requires that you move from the
mathematical average to something more specific.

Finally, for a book that is proud of the quality of their science and data analysis,
there are recommendations in the book that seem to be weakly linked to quite poor
quality science. In their section about how to create brand extensions, they advise
us that if dark blue is a parent brand asset, then perhaps make the variant
packaging stripes in dark blue and another colour to keep a key colour
consistent, but still generate a distinct visual image Our industry has
developed some good quality science in this area. Best practice is get your design
agencies to develop several different design options for your brand extension, and
then use quantitative testing to understand how well they are recognised. The
results of this will expose interesting and often unexpected nuances about how
consumers identify your logo, and what confuses them. The advice given feels
really unsophisticated and doesnt seem to understand the high quality solutions
many marketers have already adopted. If youre going to write a book criticising
the marketing community for failing to adopt scientific approaches, wouldnt it
have been helpful to understand what scientific approaches are being used in the
first place?

So in summary, How Brands Grow part 2 illustrates the challenges that Byron and
Jenny have had translating the theory of the first book into practical advice. It has
some factual insights into how big brands work, and some of their advice may be
helpful in keeping big brands big. Nonetheless, reading this at the end of 2015, Im
not sure how relevant the advice is to the strategic situation faced by big brands.
Campbells CEO Denise Morrison early this year referred to a mounting distrust
of so-called Big Food, the large food companies and legacy brands on which
millions of consumers have relied on for so long The sum of the advice given
is that brands should abandon principles, in order to sell everything, to everyone,
everywhere. But in 2015 many big brands are facing competition from smaller
brands defined by principles, which give them an advantage in public dialogue.
While the strategies outlined in the book, based on historical data, create a strong
narrative about how big brands have stayed big, Im not sure its relevant to
categories in which the big brands lose share to many smaller, specialist brands,
with more emotional brand positioning.

So overall, my view, as a lifelong student of marketing, is that the book gives us

little practical guidance about how smaller brands might become big brands, and
some of their recommendations seem risky and counterproductive. I cant help
thinking that if they had less disdain for marketers and had adopted a more
collaborative approach, they could have made much more of their source material.