Sharp begins by noting that the majority of any successful brand’s sales comes from “light buyers”: people who buy it relatively infrequently.The consequences of this insight are big:
- ...you will never increase your brand’s market share by targeting existing users ... loyalty programmes, says Sharp, “do practically nothing to drive growth”.
- ...a successful brand needs to find a way of reaching people who are not in its target market, ... advertising must somehow gain the attention of people who are not interested in it, have never bought it, or who bought it so long ago they can’t remember.
- Advertising, says Sharp, works best when it doesn’t try and persuade, but merely makes us remember the brand at the point of purchase
- Brands are not the rich sources of differentiation marketers like to think of them as, but short cuts through the complexity of decision-making. Most consumers aren’t aware of, ... the difference between Nescafé and Kenco and don’t want to spend longer than they need to thinking about which they prefer. They just want to get coffee and get home.
- Brand engagement is largely pointless...A senior marketer at the drinks company Diageo, where Sharp’s book has been influential, put it to me bluntly. “After 10 or 15 years of f***ing around with digital we’ve realised that people don’t want to ‘engage’ with brands, because they don’t care about them.’
Ideally, it would reach millions of people who aren’t particularly thinking about your product. You’d want them to see the same thing at around the same time, so that they can talk to each other about what they’ve seen, reinforcing each other’s memories of it. You would need to sneak up on them, since they have near-zero interest in hearing from you, indeed don’t want to. You’d need a form of content requiring negligible mental effort to process: one which comes in bite-sized chunks, but which is still capable of moving and delighting. It turns out there is an app for that: the TV ad.