What marketing science tells us about how to really grow brands

Marketing science – especially that of industry authority Byron Sharp – shows that to really grow your brand it needs to be easier to access in consumer memory, in more buying situations and for more consumers. Not just physically but also mentally. This involves building more than just brand awareness or positive attitudes towards your brand. It is more important to create associations, refresh salience and build new memories so you’re the brand consumers choose to buy in a given situation, context or need state (“How to Grow Brands”, Sharpe).

The building blocks of mental availability are “Category Entry Points” – a combination of why we want it and the context (e.g. where, when, with, who).

To increase and future proof their share of the market, brands need to know the established and emerging entry points in the category – and where their brand is strong or weak compared to their competitors to identify and plan responses to new opportunities and threats.

Applying this to the in-home tea and coffee category

Most people drink tea or coffee – only 5% of UK consumers don’t like either of them. Accordingly, we use 61 billion tea bags each year (Censuswide, 2022). Most of our tea and coffee is consumed at home (84% and 73% respectively).

We asked people why and the context of how they drink tea and coffee on a sample of 2,000 consumers.  We then carried out statistical analysis to come up with 14 Category Entry Points (CEPs). These entry points grouped into 6 Macro CEP groups based upon two key axis: routine-occasion and relaxing-pick me up.

The figure above looks at the six key Macro CEPs where we drink tea and coffee. Not surprisingly, the largest group of CEPs are based around morning, followed by those that had become a habit and not based on time of day. The third largest group was based around wanting to take a break, often from work or other activities. The fifth largest was around wanting to relax and enjoy the moment and the smallest group was based around socialising, though still represented 11% of the market.

The chart below breaks these down into their respective Micro CEPs for both Tea and Coffee.

Based on consumers’ participation and frequency of consumption in each category entry point, the chart above breaks down the entire tea and coffee market by entry point. We are able to see when and why tea and coffee is most likely to be consumed, from the largest in home entry point (‘Morning’) to the smallest (‘Social’).

In nearly every Category Entry Point tea takes a larger share of the market than coffee. Despite more consumers claiming to prefer coffee to tea!

Applying this to your brand strategy

Understanding how you and your competitors’ brand is playing against the Macro and Micro CEPs can help you direct your marketing and communication spend in the marketplace.

The chart below shows two leading coffee brands with their mental availability indexed against the brands average performance to show relative strengths and weakness in the market. We can see brand B is performing relatively better in Taking a Break and Social CEPs, where brand A is better in the Morning and Moments of Calm. Interestingly both brands under-performed relatively in one of the larger Marco CEPs – Habit.

By understanding the key Category Entry Points in the market and how available you are compared to the competition will give you a strategic tool to plan your marketing as well as a powerful measure to understand the effectiveness of ongoing campaigns. Study after study has shown the higher your share of Category Entry Points, the larger market share each brand takes of the market place.

To find out more about our research and the findings relevant to your brand, please contact Patrick@trajectorypartnership.com or ChrisW@trajectorypartnership.com. We are experts in mental availability, having completed studies in several FMCG and retail categories across 20 markets, and previously partnered with UCL, winning key awards for work in the area (Media Week, MRG).

Do you want more?

Request a no-obligation 7-day trial to our trends subscription service and get full access to expert research, trends articles, analysis, webinars, and our exclusive monthly Optimism Index.

Learn More