7 media behaviours that give brands ‘relative advantage’ revealed

7 media behaviours that give brands ‘relative advantage’ revealed
Foley (left) and Field worked on research

One of the UK’s leading independent media agencies has claimed to have unearthed seven media behaviours that give advertisers a “relative advantage” after trawling through more than 200 IPA Databank campaigns.

Bountiful Cow’s research, backed by effectiveness expert Peter Field and the IPA, argues that brands adopting relative advantage growth principles can deliver a significant uplift across brand metrics and business performance.

The seven behaviours are:

> Targeting an audience underserved by the rest of the category
> Using media channels otherwise atypically used in the category
> Activating in a season or time of year departing from category norms or identifying a new, untested seasonal entry point
> Activating at an unconventional time of day to the rest of the category
> Creating social currency by doing things to get talked about in ways the rest of the category have not
> Generating thought leadership by asking fresh and dynamic questions of category conventions
> Identifying new distribution channels to reach consumers neglected by competitors.

‘You’ll never win by doing the same thing with less money’

Field said: “Since Adam Morgan’s first book Eating the Big Fish, we’ve known that successful challenger brands often flouted the marketing conventions of the category in order to stand out and grow.

“In this IPA data-fuelled study, Bountiful Cow brings that finding bang up to date to show us where there is competitive advantage in breaking with rigid adherence to marketing science. Any brand with ambitions beyond its budget needs to see this.”

The analysis of 236 ad campaigns are particularly relevant for challenger brands, Bountiful Cow, which is backed by the7stars, argued.

Out of these, less than a quarter (55) were identified as having a relative advantage, while 181 did not.

Adam Foley, CEO of Bountiful Cow, said: “When you can’t outspend your competition, you have to out-think them. You’ll never win by doing the same thing with less money; it’s about seizing opportunities that competitors overlook or neglect.”

The approach focuses on one or more elements of planning strategy, with the ambition to be distinctive from category norms and to grow market share in unique spaces, contexts, environments and moments that competitors have overlooked.

It argues that, unlike conventional laws of brand growth that predominantly focus on driving excess share of voice (ESOV) by outspending the competition, relative advantage looks to outsmart the competition by gaining a share in unique and underused spaces.

‘New approach to growth’

The agency’s research argues that relative advantage campaigns are 15% more likely to show at least one very large brand effect. They are also 60% more likely to have a very large effect on awareness, 22% more likely on differentiation and 17% more likely for commitment (loyalty), suggesting a longer-term benefit to the brand and the business.

Such campaigns are also said to deliver a 9% uplift in “very large” business effects, while the average return on marketing investment for relative advantage brands stands at 500% — a 40% increase above the control group. 

Foley presenting Bountiful Cow’s findings at the IPA on 7 February

The research was presented at an IPA event on Wednesday after having been conducted by a team of experts from Bountiful Cow, led by chief strategy officer Chetan Murthy and head of audience and effectiveness Sam Barton, in association with the IPA Databank and Field.

Laurence Green, director of effectiveness at the IPA, added: “This is an important study which clearly identifies a new approach to growth that is more aligned to challenger brands and startups.

“It also marks an important step in IPA Databank learning. We hope this will encourage other members to test new hypotheses and brand-building theories against our comprehensive Databank of effectiveness case studies.”

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