Modern marketing dilemmas: What role does brand play in the consumer decision journey?

Mental vs. physical availability: winning brands are easy to mind and easy to find. Find out how to make sure your brand will be chosen.

In our first ‘modern marketing dilemmas’ article we teased out the contentious merits of Marketing ROI and showed how to get the balance right between short and long-term measurement. Our second conundrum is rhetorical, as we explore if mental or physical availability trigger people’s choice. Defying the pitfalls of narrative spoilers, I admit early on that a brand’s ‘easy to mind’ and ‘easy to find’ qualities are co-dependent and influence one another throughout the consumer decision process. That means the answer is both, but now sit back and fasten your seatbelt for this zigzagging journey towards epiphany.

Double Jeopardy is a reality of brand life

Physical availability comes before everything else because, unless a product is there, people can’t choose it. So, logic dictates that reach matters and penetration enables more sales of a product or service. A brand that increases penetration will, on average, enjoy higher sales and stronger loyalty, reaping the benefits of the Double Jeopardy effect. It’s a no brainer.

This doesn’t mean that smaller brands are inherently weak or disadvantaged. In Byron Sharp’s own words: “The big brand has to complete a marathon, whilst the small brand (which suffers from a sore foot) only has to run 50 meters”.

Sustainable growth is up for grabs for all, it’s not size constrained, because the human brain works in mysterious ways. According to Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman it’s largely “a machine for jumping to conclusions”. Given a choice, people will pick the brand that comes to their mind fluently; an action activated by what we call mental availability. Increasing the likelihood of a brand coming to mind easily is about dismantling that psychological construct.

This article was published exclusively on on April 20, 2022.