Can Direct Mail Increase Brand Awareness?

For decades, brand awareness has been the subject of research and study. Is branding a good investment of your marketing dollars? To what extent does brand awareness truly influence the final purchase decision? Experienced marketers know brand awareness does matter.

Here are the results from one study:

  • In a blind study by the University of Newcastle and the University of South Australia, 85.5% of subjects chose the familiar brand in the first trial, even if they preferred a less familiar brand.
  • Even when testing brands during an initial trial, consumers were more likely to purchase the product from a familiar brand name, even if they preferred the taste (or, by extension, the look, smell, or function) of an unfamiliar brand.
  • Consumers were not only likely to choose the more familiar brand but were more likely to make the decision more quickly — 9.8 seconds faster.

What does this mean for you? Stay in front of them until they are ready to make a decision. Repetition is critical. The average person remembers three to five brands per category. To get in that group, you have to push someone else out and then stay there.  More often than not, if people don’t know your brand or remember it, they will either ignore it or view it with contempt.

Consistent drips of brand messaging can pay off in a big way.

So, how does direct mail fit?

For companies who are niche players or those who have small footprints in particular DMA’s, above the line media may not be a cost effective approach. Direct mail can be a part of a lower cost channel mix.

For companies who are larger and can afford above the line, direct mail can still be part of the mix and has the added benefit of providing a direct response mechanism. Factors like lifetime customer value, frequency of purchase, and more help determine how it fits in the mix.

Creating brand awareness may not be about getting someone to buy right now. It’s about staying top of mind, breaking the psychological contempt barrier, creating affinity, so that when your target audience is ready to buy, they think of you.


Source: “Brand Awareness Effects on Consumer Decision Making for a Common, Repeat Purchase Product: A Replication” (Journal of Business Research)

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