Do you know that consumers are more likely to buy what you have to sell if they are already positively predisposed to your brand? You are probably thinking “Duh…I know that!” Then… why don’t you take advantage of this fact to improve your marketing success?
Whether you call it “brand positioning” or “creating positive predispositions” it can make a big difference in whether or not you reach your sales goals. This is especially true with higher involvement products or services and those that are less frequently purchased. The higher the involvement and the less frequently purchased, the more important this positive positioning becomes.
My last two posts have been about the appropriateness of rational versus emotional advertising appeals and what research tells us about when each is more effective. If you haven’t read them you can find them here:
If you read them, you may have learned that rational advertising appeals are better at achieving sales for high involvement products while emotional advertising appeals work better for low involvement (impulse buy) products. Think of high involvement as purchase decisions that require a lot of thought and involvement on the part of the consumer.
Marketing research also tells us that, if the consumer is positively predisposed toward the brand, then the more effective the rational advertising appeal is in achieving sales results with such high involvement products. The more positively predisposed, the more effective the advertising campaign can be in achieving sales.
While marketing research doesn’t tell us why this is so, information processing theory suggests a possible reason. When consumers become positively predisposed toward a brand, this creates a positive “bias” toward that brand.
When consumers are presented with new information about a product or service, they view that information through their “biased” lens. Information theory suggests that an individual would retrieve pre-existing thoughts as they process newly acquired information.
The new information conjures up positive thoughts already in memory that reinforce the positions advocated in the advertising. Among those negatively predisposed, the new information generates counter-arguments within the minds of consumers.
Remember: Perception is Reality! What a customer perceives, whether accurate or not, is the truth in the mind of that potential customer. Consumers’ unconscious minds don’t stop working. Left to their own devices, consumers will create their own perceptions about your company, brand or product.
Your goal is to manage customer perceptions and create positive predispositions toward your brand.
This “selective perception” is often created at the first impression of a brand or at the awareness stage of the purchasing process. This bias is created, but the conscious mind doesn’t know it. At this stage all you want to do is instill a few facts such as the company’s name, product name and general impressions about it, including the creation of positive impression about the company in the minds of consumers.
That first impression becomes critical to shaping purchasing decisions down the road. The important point here is that this positioning is very effective for high involvement and less frequently purchased products.
Two examples of such high involvement and less frequently purchased products are automobiles and health insurance.
Car manufacturers know that consumers don’t make buying decisions based on a 30 second TV spot or a print ad. Their goal is to positively predispose consumers so that their research and buying process will take place in a particular context within their brains. They want to create a positive bias in the minds of potential buyers.
The more positive the predisposition, the more likely the consumer will view all of the new information about the product in a positive way, i.e., it will reinforce their already held positive view.
If you’ve owned a particular brand of car and liked it, your next car purchase will be positively influenced by that fact. Even if your conscious mind thinks that the playing field is level, it isn’t. Your unconscious mind will filter your new research about what car to buy by your positive predisposition to the brand you already owned. Obviously the opposite is true if you didn’t like your car.
That gets into product quality and customer satisfaction issues that can be a subject of a later post.
For those potential customers with no experience with your product or service, you need to create awareness and positive feelings about your brand. When they are eventually motivated to purchase a product, they will not only be aware of you, but will be positively predisposed to your brand.
Health Insurance Case Study: Here’s a real life example of this process at work. A friend of mine turned 65 and wanted to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. He selected a particular brand name because he was positively predisposed to it from experiences 30 years earlier. His bias colored his research into what brand was right for him. He selected it despite higher rated and cheaper plans available to him.
He downplayed the highest rated Medicare Advantage plan in his mind because his perceptions were neutral or slightly negative about the organization involved. That perception was based on nothing in particular. His mind just decided that this highly rated health care organization wasn’t a good one when he first became aware of it. In the years since, the healthcare organization did nothing to counter that impression, so that perception continued to persist and biased his decision on choosing a Medicare Advantage plan.
This selective perception caused him to pick a health plan with which he later opted out because of his unhappiness with the particular plan.
A friend’s recommendation overcame his initial bias and his new research revealed that the highly rated plan best fit his needs. He subsequently enrolled in it and has been happy with it.
Imagine if that highly rated plan had used advertising to create awareness and to positively dispose potential customers to the brand.
Even decisions on group plans are made by individuals within an organization. Trust me when I say that they are likely to have selective perceptions about the competing organizations or products. I believe that brand positioning can positively influence this decision process as well.
That’s my take and I’m sticking to it.