• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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A warning about Brand Match: Don’t take the shortcut

As I’ve said many times before – and it’s a mantra of sorts at Stealing Share – that we all buy a reflection of ourselves. I didn’t buy a BMW because it had good gas mileage or was easy to park. (Even if that’s what I tell people.) I bought it because I feel like I am still the ultimate driving machine even if I have just as many aches and pains as I have ever-increasing gray hairs.

The best brands are the ones that are a direct reflection of who we aspire to be when we use that brand. We think big and scorn the status quo when we use Apple. We think ourselves as winners when we wear a pair of Nikes.

So, it was interesting to hear about a syndicated service called “Brand Match,” a study by Ipsos that matched affection for brands with demographics. (In this case, the demographics were political leaning.)

There is, though, something disturbing about the study if advertisers take it to heart. The idea behind the study is that respondents rated brands on Recognition, Attraction, Presence (having a definite opinion about) and Polarization (how divisive the brand is).

The study then takes those ratings and breaks them into demographics, with the purpose of finding what brands are most attractive to a particular demographic.

I’m not a big fan of market segmentation because our research has shown that, within the context of any brand, there exist precepts, belief systems that drive behavior, that are common among all demographics. Once you align your brand with the precept with the highest emotional intensity, you become an Apple or Nike.

If, as Brand Match theorizes, that Democrats like Red Lobster, but Republicans prefer Outback Steakhouse, the question is “why?” And, “so what?”

Think of it this way. The value of this study, as it’s proposed, is that, let’s say, Red Lobster should advertise more on The Daily Show than The O’Reilly Factor to reach, what the study says, is its core audience.

But here’s the thing: Brand exists so that you steal market share, not keep it. You must steal your competitors’ customers because there are very few immature markets. The only way to grow is to steal market share.

If you speak to the converted, you are standing still. Uncovering the “why” is more important than the “what.” Brand Match is all very interesting and it has its place, but don’t confuse it with the strategy to steal market share.

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