Brand Awareness

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Marketing Research On-Line Vol.One, 1996

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Management Perceptions of the Importance of Brand Awareness as an Indication of Advertising Effectiveness Emma Macdonald Dept of Management Newcastle University Central Coast Campus, Brush Road Ourimbah, NSW 2258, Australia. Email: mgekm@cc.newcastle.edu.au Byron Sharp Marketing Science Centre University of South Australia North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia. Email: Byron.Sharp@unisa.edu.au

In 1987 Rossiter and Percy wrote “Brand awareness is widely misunderstood and often wrongly measured, even by experienced managers” (p141). Yet brand awareness is covered in most texts on advertising measurement, it is a central part of the popular hierarchy of-effects advertising model, and marketing managers claim it as an important goal of their communications activities (Kelly 1991). This paper discusses recent theoretical developments which attempt to explain the role which brand awareness plays and then presents empirical findings concerning how Australian managers utilise brand awareness as a measure of marketing and advertising effectiveness.

Marketing Research On-Line Vol.One, 1996

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THE ROLE OF BRAND AWARENESS
Rossiter and Percy (1987) describe brand awareness as being essential for the communications process to occur as it precedes all other steps in the process. Without brand awareness occurring, no other communication effects can occur. For a consumer to buy a brand they must first be made aware of it. Brand attitude cannot be formed, and intention to buy cannot occur unless brand awareness has occurred (Rossiter & Percy 1987, Rossiter et al. 1991). In memory theory, brand awareness is positioned as a vital first step in building the “bundle” of associations which are attached to the brand in memory (Stokes 1985). The brand is conceptualised as a node in memory which allows other information about the brand to be “anchored” to it (Aaker 1991b). The conceptualisation of a network of brand associations in memory with the brand as a central core has been put forward by many others (eg. Keller 1993, Holden 1993, Holden & Lutz 1992).

Brand Awareness in Decision Making
The above two roles of brand awareness should be well known to marketing managers. The role of brand awareness in decision theory is probably less well known.

Brand awareness and the consideration set Brand awareness has been hypothesised to play a crucial role in determining the consideration set: the small set of brands which a consumer gives serious attention when making a purchase (Howard & Sheth 1969, Narayana & Markin 1975). The composition of this small set of brands which are considered during decision-making is important. A brand that is not considered cannot be chosen (Baker et al. 1986), and further, the probability of the brand being chosen is a function of the number of other brands in the consideration set, for instance, the probability of a brand being selected from 1, 2, 3, or 4 brands, decreases rapidly from 1.0 to 0.5, 0.33, and 0.25 respectively. In a situation where the consumer is aware of a number of brands which fit the relevant criteria, he or she is unlikely to expend much effort in seeking out information on unfamiliar brands. A brand that has some level of brand awareness is far more likely to be considered, and

Marketing Research On-Line Vol.One, 1996

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therefore chosen, than brands which the consumer is unaware of. Additionally, the strength of awareness of the brands within the consideration set can also be significant. Wilson (1981 cited in Woodside & Wilson 1985) confirmed the importance of top-of-mind awareness in a study which found that the higher the position of the brand in the consumer's mind measured by unaided recall, the higher the purchase intention and the higher the relative purchase of the brand. In another study, increases in brand awareness were shown to increase the probability of choice even without any accompanying change in...
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