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How Brands Grow

As a marketing practitioner and analyst for the last fifteen years, I was part of the crowds who believed about customer loyalty and the need to cultivate and nurture it. However, the concepts could not satisfactorily answer a couple of fundamental questions that were thrown at me by a senior management in an organisation that I was a part of.

“Do customers become loyal because they have more products with us, or are they loyal in the first place, so they have more products with us?”

“If our customers are so satisfied and our service is that good, how come we are still losing a lot of customers every time?”

I received the answers and the alternative way of looking at the issue after I joined the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. Fortunately, for those of you who are not thinking of joining the academic circle or cannot possibly learn it directly from the Institute, there is hope. The knowledge has now been shared into the market. Byron Sharp, the Director of the Institute, has just published a new book called How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know. With contributions from other academics, he covers 11 Marketing Laws that are based from solid data (empirically based and empirically generalisable).

Just like the scientists of old when they debunked the myth that the earth is flat, the findings covered in the book refute a lot of the myths that are circulating within the marketing circle. Similarly, just like the yesteryears, there are other marketing practitioners who may disagree with the new ways of looking at marketing issues. Marketing is no longer an airy-fairy field, it has become an area of science. ‘Common sense’, ‘rule of thumb’ or opinions (or heuristics, if you like) can no longer be used to reliably explain the phenomenons in the market.

The book is very easy to read and the implications of the laws that are covered are easy to implement and communicate. Best of all, as mentioned previously, they are not based on the opinions of big-name-marketing-gurus, but on solid research findings and backed by data from various markets and product categories. Large corporations like Coca Cola, Colgate, and Mars Food also support and participate in the research, so the findings are legit and practical across industries and markets (or as the academics would say, generalisable).

I must warn you though – you may feel a sense of embarrassment when you read through and remember the analysis or course of actions that you have done that are contrary to the findings of solid research. The books are available through amazon or amazon.co.uk.

Note: As for the answer for the second question, it lies within the realm of the law of Retention Double Jeopardy: “all brands lose some buyers; this loss is proportionate to their market share (i.e. big brands lose more customers; though these represent a smaller proportion of their total customer base).” You will need to read the book for the answer to the first question!

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