27th of June 2017

Published by AdAge See original article

Losing Loyalty: The World According to Byron Sharp

In the years since Byron Sharp published ‘How Brands Grow,’ his unorthodox theories have taken root with major marketers and begun changing how they buy media. Among the new rules: Loyalty is a crock and broad reach can be more productive than surgical targeting.

Byron Sharp would like you to know that almost everything you’ve learned about marketing is wrong.

Here’s the real truth, according to the University of South Australia marketing professor, whose 2010 book has recently grown surprisingly influential among top brands: 20% of your brand’s biggest buyers don’t really account for 80% of sales. These “loyal” consumers aren’t really that loyal. The best way to grow is to get more sales from people who care even less about your brand than the loyalists.

There’s more: Buyers of different brands are fairly similar despite all your most obsessive data segmentation efforts. People rarely hear your “reasons to believe” and don’t believe them anyway. They’re more likely to buy based on emotion and because your marketing has drilled into their memories with well-worn brand characteristics like logo, color, scent or old ad taglines.

“Sales growth won’t come from relentlessly targeting a particular segment of a brand’s buyers,” Sharp said. “This fantasy is harming marketing effectiveness.”

It might be easy to ignore all this coming from way Down Under, many time zones distant from the centers of the marketing universe. Yet Sharp, his Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science and book “How Brands Grow” are having a, well, growing influence on brands. Marketers including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Uber, Microsoft and Verizon have sponsored the institute’s research.

“We noticed starting in 2013 that more and more of our clients were bringing up ‘How Brands Grow’ and talking about this man Byron Sharp,” said Will Platt-Higgins, VP-global accounts at Facebook. “It was at first a novelty with one or two clients. And then it became more.”

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