As per the report, effective marketing needs more than mid and lower funnel activations even in a pandemic
At the onset of the pandemic, brands across categories cut their marketing efforts in order to preserve budgets. After more than a year of living in a pandemic, the world is acclimating to new realities, and marketers need to think about using both activation and brand marketing tactics instead of doubling down on the former, Nielsen’s ‘Take command of your brand’ report said. “There is no short-selling the importance of being able to engage those who are ready to purchase, but effective marketing needs more than mid and lower funnel activations—even in a pandemic,” it added further.
According to the report, marketers have always been pressured to deliver measurable ROI for their efforts, but the demand for growth has sharpened as the world looks toward a post-pandemic future. As the public (and private) learnings of other brands suggest, that growth must be addressed with balanced marketing strategies that re-elevate upper funnel, brand-building efforts to work in tandem with the mid and lower funnel efforts. Importantly, brand-building efforts are a lever to drive sales. Nielsen’s experience base shows that on average, a 1-point gain in brand metrics such as awareness and consideration drives a 1% increase in sales. Upper-funnel efforts also generate an array of ancillary benefits that can drive the efficiency of sales activations.
It should be noted that the need to drive awareness has never been more important for brands. Given the prevalence of choice and access, staying top-of-mind with consumers could be the difference maker when a sale is at stake. Nielsen data shows that marketing accounts for 10%-35% of a brand’s equity. Equity also comes from visibility, such as seeing a product on the shelf or signage on a storefront, as well as regular product usage, such as the subtle reminder about an auto brand every time you drive your car. Brand owners often take these non-marketing sources of equity for granted, but today, that’s a risky proposition, the study highlighted.
The report also pointed out that building and maintaining a brand takes more than simply maintaining sales. With that insight, brands need to understand that the channels that are great for driving sales may not be ideal for driving awareness. While there is a modest correlation between a channel’s effectiveness for upper-funnel efforts and its effectiveness for lower funnel efforts, that isn’t particularly helpful when it comes to making investment choices. Studying channel effectiveness in driving long-term sales helps marketers understand how strong a particular channel is at driving awareness and other upper-funnel metrics that have latent sales effects.
Furthermore, when consumers are getting to know a brand, that brand’s messaging is critical. In addition to being aware of varying personal need states, brands need to be aware of the broader world they (and their customers) live in. For example, a survey conducted by Nielsen and Wizer in second-quarter 2020 found that 90% of Americans expressed being more favorable towards companies that were helping consumers during the pandemic. Now, more than 14 months into the pandemic, conditions have evolved, with 55% of Americans 18 and older believing they could get back to their normal routines this year. Importantly, consumers have likely faced new information almost every week during the pandemic, and that information informs their beliefs and mindsets. That is where brand messaging comes into play—both in and out of a pandemic.