Say Cheese…… Mindshare vs. Mousetraps marketing strategies

Years ago Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, made a very profound observation:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Almost all the successful companies start with market research and devise a focused, comprehensive strategy to penetrate their market, build their brand, and win mindshare before they enter a market.

For decades India has seen the dominance of the mindshare and better – mousetraps marketing strategies. Most brands, obsessed with the mindshare marketing, develop their strategies positioning planks like ‘‘fun’’ or ‘‘sophisticated’’ or ‘‘youthful’’ or ‘‘high quality’’ or ‘‘responsive’’ or ‘‘built-to-last.’’ This approach implicitly asserts that consumers value abstract concepts such as these, and, so, when a brand conveys such concepts effectively, consumers will value the brand.

Mindshare can be defined as; “The amount consumer awareness or popularity surrounding a particular product. It refers to consumer’s perception of particular brands or products compared to their rivals. One of the primary goals of advertising is to make consumers think of certain brand names more than others.”

Companies like to focus their marketing strategies on mindshare concepts because they are easy to understand, measure, and manage. But do consumers find value in such abstractions, or are these positioning planks easy to defend? Well, the concepts do not exist as independent entities, rather, it’s a cultural expression of what consumers buy, experience, and value in a brand. More than ‘‘fun,’’ consumers experience a particular expression of fun—for example, dancing around the house to a favourite tune on one’s iPod. An iPod’s version of fun is different from Fanta’s version of fun, which is different from Kellog’s Chocos version of fun. Each brand’s ‘‘fun’’ comes to life as a full-blown cultural expression.

Whereas better mousetrap strategy, positions brands on functional/rational benefits. As long as functionality is the differentiator in the product, then consumers purchase decision is more likely to be rational. Mind-share marketing is more perceptual decision where as, mousetrap marketing is more rational consumer choice. Both assume that what consumers are buying is the perceived technical functionality of the offering: consumers buy a Honda because they believe that it will break down less often than another car.

Most consumer markets are characterised by functionality that is less important to consumers, or by small incremental differences in functionality across brands, or by functionality that is difficult for consumers to evaluate. In such cases, culture takes over in guiding consumers’ perceptions of functionality.

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