Brand awareness is vitally important in the marketing process. As consumers need to be aware of a product and brand to purchase it, then the more consumers who are aware, the more purchases take place. This hierarchical approach, begins with awareness and moves through consideration and preference to purchase.
This hierarchical path is sometimes called the sales funnel. Funnel metrics allow marketers to measure and control brand awareness, consideration and preference. These metrics allow marketers to say things like “We have 75% awareness and of those 35% would consider purchasing from us and 75% of the consider group place our brand in their preferred set.” Most marketers spend most of their time working to raise brand awareness, consideration and preference. Let’s explore brand awareness, consideration and preference one by one:
Awareness is the number of people or percentage of a group that are aware of a brand. Awareness is measured in two ways, either as prompted or unprompted (spontaneous) awareness. Prompted awareness is measured by asking people if they are aware of the mentioned brand. It could be the brand name itself, a logo or the brand as part of a list of other brands. Unprompted or spontaneous awareness questions do not mention a brand name but asks consumers to name brands they are aware of in a given category. Examples would be “could you tell name ten airlines that you are aware of” or “can you name five soft drinks brands”.
Consumers do not purchase all brands they are aware of. They purchase some but may actively avoid others. So, consideration examines whether consumers would consider purchasing a brand they are aware of. Those who would consider purchasing a brand are measured as a subset of those aware of a brand. Here we see the hierarchical nature of the funnel in action; it is not possible to consider a brand you are not aware of. Consideration questions might ask “of the ten airline brands you are aware of, which would you consider using?”
Consumers tend to have a “preferred set” of brands – these are the set of brands within a category that they prefer to use. Going back to our hierarchical model, the preferred set can only come from within the considered set. Getting into the preferred set is the Holy Grail for many marketers but it’s not easy. Finding a place in the preferred set requires a contribution from all elements of the marketing process. A place in the preferred set is the result of many factors that can drive brand preference; a strong product developed through strong NPD, a product made available through good distribution, a product pitched at the right price and a product back by good service. You can see why advertising in itself cannot guarantee brand preference, but advertising can communicate a brand’s attributes which in turn can help to secure preference. Brand preference is measured by asking consumers which brands they prefer to purchase and use within a particular category.
How are these metrics measured?
Brand awareness, consideration and preference are attitudinal and exist within consumers’ minds. The only way they can be measured is through surveys which ask consumers about their relationship with brands. These surveys can be collected though online panels, face to face or via phone research.
Proxy measures can also be used to build understating but theses are not a substitute for brand awareness research. Digital proxies include search traffic metrics which can be correlated to awareness and consideration. The important point with digital metrics is that they are behavioural, not attitudinal; they tell you that something is happening, but don’t explain why.