What is the point of advertising?

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Advertising. A word we are all so familiar with. You don’t need a degree in business administration to understand or hear about this word. Whether it is in social media or television or radio or physical advertisement in the streets, all of us have interacted with adverts in one way or other. But what exactly is the point of “advertising”.

From a general standpoint you would say that the point of advertisement is to increase sales. To an extent that is true. But ask yourself this, ”When was the last time you saw an advert and instantly went to the market to buy that product?” Simply put, you don’t. It doesn’t work that way. The aim of advertisement is to occupy some space in the consumer’s mind regarding the product or service. Only then will consumers want to know about your brand and its offerings. For lesser known brands its about introducing themselves to the customers and sanctioning a position for themselves in the customer’s head. For the already established brands , they want to reinforce in the viewer’s head that they exist. Hence repetitive adverts make the viewer think about the brand and its products.

So that when the shopkeeper asks for which brand the customer wants, he/she can recall the brand name from the advert and choose to buy that brand’s product. Or when choosing between the same products of two different brands, the customer goes for the brand which is present in his/her mind at that time. This can only happen when your brand can occupy a specific position in the thought process of the customers. Of course prior usage of the brand is also a factor in purchase.

The better the position of your brand in the customer’s mind, the higher the chances that the customer picks your brand over another brand during the purchase. Adverts help to cement that position in the customers mind that help them sway towards picking your brand. Hence brands go as far as spending millions of dollars to produce adverts that help them secure their place in the customer’s brain. And they keep reinforcing their presence to the customer at different touch points. Positive word of mouth regarding the product is also important in purchasing a brand’s products. Adverts get people buzzing about the brand. It leads to more awareness about the product and make people want to know more about the brand’s offerings.

The other aspect of adverts is to provide information about the product or service. Such information can help the customer to understand and compare relevant information to finally make a decision about what she actually wants to buy. Hence adverts need to provide information which are useful, relevant as well as interesting enough for the customers to go and at least try out the product. If the customer finds the information provided to be useful and to his taste, the odds of him purchasing the product rises.

This is where we look at a term called consideration set. It represents the set of brands that are taken seriously by the customer in his or her purchase decision. He/she may know a lot of brands, but only a few brands credible enough can only be present in the consideration set. This credibility of the brand is what finally gives the customer the courage to actually purchase the brand’s products. Adverts make the mass people aware of the brand’s existence and give them information which help to make the brands credible enough to purchase from.

Companies can splash the cash and make big adverts to boost sales. But it is more necessary to hit the customer at the right point through the advert. The message in the advert should be strong enough to secure a position for the brand in the customers’ mind. That should be the aim of advertisement.

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