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on 24 May 2017
A refreshing take on marketing myths, using research the author identifies some marketing shibboleths and corrects them and posts some suggested axioms (or laws) based on cited research which will be familiar to savvy marketers (eg. Ehrenberg et al.) which should free marketers from an obsession for short-term results and focus on grounded methods to achieve brand growth. Definitely worth reading.
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on 22 April 2017
Really good for who studies or work with business, marketing and communications.
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It seems sensible, doesn't it, that if you want to grow, you need more customers - new customers. This is the essence of the book, but it over-turns the wisdom that you should spend time, if not money too, concentrating on your existing customer base. A broad, shallow customer base, always growing is the key to brand recognition and business growth. What else the book is saying is that investment on keeping loyal customers is - well, not necessarily a waste of money, but has nothing statistical to suggest that it has any meaningful effect. I have read several books on branding in recent months and each of them has merit, contributing something different to the case and the question - how to grow your business? If you accept that most customers have no inherent loyalty, then constantly seeking new ones, to broaden your base, makes sense. It is logical and unemotional: being a customer, buying your product is probably subject to whim or changing values and expectations and loyalty comes at a cost in terms of vouchers and give-away discounts etc. A brand offers meaning to customers who recognise it but, who may buy a cheaper or more convenient product nevertheless; a recognised brand also helps to capture new customers who help to make your business grow. In a nutshell, this is what the book is saying - it offers more than this and a range of statistical information that puts its arguments into context and makes it convincing; not the only, but one of the best books on the subject I have read and which has set me to work, so it is much more than a merely interesting read.
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on 11 May 2017
Read most of the book "How Brands Grow" by Byron Sharp....lots of tables and data and felt more like a academic piece rather than what I was expecting...quite dry to be honest and I have not been smart enough to identify any insights.

The key messages have been set out as "laws" both at the front and at the end of the book - primacy and recency from psychology spring to mind. The author has attempted to set the record straight around some of the well worn marketing messages / received wisdom over the decades and has relied to dry and dated data to evidence his case.

Why does a Professor from Australia have to come up with these key findings that our very own, delightful Pippa Middleton could have come up with in her spare time ? Could have been ghost authored by the lady !

Key messages, if they can be called that !

Large market penetration = large market share
Acquisition of customers is more important than retention.
Low frequency buyers make up a huge part of the market.
Brand loyalty is over hyped.
Price promotions do not have a lasting impact on customer buying behaviour.
Even loyal customers frequently buy other brands...

After reading the book, it confirmed what I knew all along...basically that we all buy what we want, when we feel like it or circumstances change. No one really cares.
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on 14 January 2012
Very complex view on marketing and brand management challenging many traditional myths, challenging a bit traditional Kotler's point of view. Applies rather scientific approach and support view with a lot of evidence. Suitable rather for experienced marketing managers and professionals. Should be obligatory reading for CEOs, CFOs and generally board members, as at very well explains the role of advertising and promotion and what can and cannot be expected.
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on 21 June 2010
The most unfortunate thing about this book is that most people who most need to read it probably won't! It is unfortunate that the marketing profession is largely founded on what appear to be exciting ideas that are underpinned by little empirical evidence. Prof Sharp provides a challenge to everything we think we know about marketing, and provides a wealth of empirical evidence to back up what he says. If you think you know something about marketing, then you really need to read this book.
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on 7 June 2010
It's refreshing to read a marketing book that puts theory aside and looks at the evidence-based learnings from some of the most successful campaigns.

The results can make for uncomfortable reading (especially if you currently manage the marketing plan) but the book is based on clear, objective and compelling research, expertly presented in way that makes it both a great read and immediately actionable. Overall, an original, impressive and insightful book that does exactly what it says on the cover - reveals how brands really grow.
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on 21 January 2015
How brands grow is a book largely about fundamental marketing principles: brand growth, how advertising works, price promotions and loyalty programs. It’s a myth-busting classic, filled with scientific discovery so it feels different from the more traditional business textbooks. Sharp successfully tears strips off current marketing practices and likens marketing managers to “medieval doctors, working on impressions and myth.” He pushes this analogy further when he compares much of our modern marketing theory to the practice of bloodletting, which was once regarded as a particularly effective way to “cure” medical ailments.

You get the feeling that Sharp really enjoys challenging every single marketing assumption we all have; from the taken as given need to differentiate your brand to the fact that a brand’s consumers are a distinctive type of person, in fact, even the pareto law gets a kicking, gone are the assurances that 80% of sales come from the top 20% of your buyers – according to Byron only slightly more than half of sales come from the top 20% of the brand’s customers, the rest come from the bottom 80% .

It’s true to say that by and large this book is somewhat of a manifesto for what he calls his new world model:

Past World Model Positioning Differentiation Message Comprehension Unique Selling
Proposition Persuasion Teaching Rational Involved
Viewers
New World Model Salience Distinctiveness Getting noticed,emotional response Relevant Associations Refreshing and
building memory structures Reaching Emotional
DistractedViews
And this new world model rests on a very simple premise that ALL brands grow by increasing their market penetration, forget about loyalty and/or anything else. He proves this hypothesis through what he calls the Double Jeopardy Law. Sharp argues that the Double jeopardy law tells us what our marketing metrics will look like – if we are successful in gaining sales and market share.

Here’s an example:

Shampoo Brands Market Share (%) Annual market Penetration (%) Purchase Frequency (average)
Suave Naturals 12 19 2.0
Pantene Pro V 10 16 1.9
Alberto VO5 6 11 1.6
Garnier Fructis 5 9 1.7
Dove 4 8 1.4
Finesse 1 2 1.4
Average 1.7
Note: Smaller US shampoo brands suffer from only slightly lower loyalty.

If Finesse were to catapult up to the sales levels of Suave Naturals or Pantene Pro V, it would be substantially more popular with millions more households buying it each year. But these households would not, on average buy it much more often than current Finesse households buy the brand.

Finesse’s brand manager could plan to reach market leadership by getting current customers to buy eight times a year. That would be enough to do it – in theory. But in practice it’s impossible. As Sharp goes on to point out Finesse buying households currently only buy shampoo six times a year; therefore Finesse would need to command 100% loyalty just to achieve six purchases per year per customer. But no shampoo brand in the US commands 100% loyalty. Such a marketing plan is a fantasy.

Double jeopardy, therefore, tells us what is, and what isn’t achievable – sort of a practical guide to strategy formulation.

Make your brand famous,make your brand popular.

The book continually delivers a strong case for mass marketing, as attested above, Sharp continually hammers home that growth in market share comes by increasing your brand popularity or fame. You do this by gaining many more buyers (of all types), most of whom are light consumers buying the brand occasionally. This allows Sharp to controversially define brands as “undifferentiated choice options of varying popularity.”

It’s an easy read, a lot of it planners probably already know as it’s based on the work of Andrew Ehrenberg who in 2003 proved, albeit with shorter term dynamic analysis, that both rising and declining brands displayed more change in their penetration than in their purchase frequency. Sharp adds a level of metric data to the debate which makes Ehrenberg’s theories easier to substantiate. This argument also fits well with the more recent IPA analysis by Binet & Field in 2007 which showed that effectiveness award winners were far more likely to have set targets to increase market penetration.
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on 24 November 2010
My first copy was leant to me by a marketing friend who said, 'Read this, you're going to be amazed. Our company has changed it's whole marketing strategy based on this book, and it's working.' A little sceptical, I took the book and started reading.

Half a day later, I emerged, dazed and astounded. She was right, I was amazed. It was a revelation to someone who's been in marketing for over 20 years. It will challenge your accepted marketing thinking and fill your head with a vision of a Brave New World. I'm off to start building mine now, before every marketer has read this and the advantages it gives me will be the norm once more.
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on 18 January 2012
I'm still a bit unsure about some of the conclusions in this book, but it definitely got me thinking about the assumptions marketers take for granted. This book is thought-provoking and insightful, albeit the style of writing is a bit arrogant at times. The book is essentially a summary of a lot of empirical research into brands, and is unique in offering some backing to its claims. It is tailored to big FMCG marketers, and for them, the pro-mass marketing advice seems sound and actionable. In any other context, it is essential to pick and choose what makes sense to the reader - as Byron Sharp often makes sweeping generalizations that just don't apply. In any case, a worthwhile read, alongside Seth Godin's We Are All Weird for an extra kick.
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