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How Brands Grow

What Marketers Don’t Know

By Byron Sharp
15-minute read
Audio available
How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp

In How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp tackles conventional marketing wisdom, disproving many of the conventional marketing myths with scientific facts and establishing some scientifically proven principles marketers should use.

  • Anyone working in marketing
  • Anyone interested in how science can affect marketing practice
  • Anyone who wants to know how advertising works

Byron Sharp is a professor of marketing science at the University of South Australia. He has written over a hundred articles on research in marketing and focuses mainly on establishing empirical laws that can be used in marketing practice.

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How Brands Grow

What Marketers Don’t Know

By Byron Sharp
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp
Synopsis

In How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp tackles conventional marketing wisdom, disproving many of the conventional marketing myths with scientific facts and establishing some scientifically proven principles marketers should use.

Key idea 1 of 9

Marketing practice should use evidence provided by marketing science, not rely on traditional beliefs.

For thousands of years, it was very common for medical doctors to practice bloodletting on their patients: just a few centuries ago, it was used as a cure for every health problem imaginable. Then, as science advanced and empirical evidence mounted, we came to learn that bloodletting is largely ineffective.

Similarly, marketing practice has long operated on the basis of beliefs that have no empirical foundation.

One of these established beliefs is that brands need to have an equal amount of loyal customers and customers who switch between brands (“switchers”).

Take, for example, the toothpaste brands Colgate and Crest. In 1989, a market analysis revealed that Colgate’s consumer base was made up of 21 percent loyal customers and 68 percent switchers, while Crest’s comprised 38 percent loyal customers and just 46 percent switchers.

For the marketing managers at Colgate, this data was worrisome enough to convince them that they should produce more persuasive advertising to keep their customers loyal.

However, like many maxims of marketing, this belief is wrong.

In marketing, there is a scientifically proven pattern known as the double jeopardy law which states that brands with a smaller market share have fewer customers and, what’s more, that those customers are less loyal than those of bigger brands.

This reveals that the buying behavior of customers is related to a brand’s size, and that it’s therefore only natural that Colgate, with its 19 percent market share, has fewer loyal customers and more switchers than Crest, which has a market share of 37 percent.

Thus, these figures shouldn’t concern Colgate’s marketing department, as they aren’t the consequence of a weak marketing strategy, but simply of the brand’s relative size.

As the above example illustrates, in order for it to be effective, marketing practice should ground itself in the findings of marketing science. That’s because marketing science can reveal the actual causes and effects of marketing.

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