Why Apparel Brands Must Pivot Smartly To Build Salience

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When urban youth seek a quick bite, what comes to mind immediately is McDonald’s or KFC. Or when looking for online shopping, the mind immediately thinks of Amazon – for every need from A to Z. Why do we think that is? This is primarily because these brands have moved beyond awareness and are now salient to customers, thereby generating top-of-the-mind recall.

While much has been made of brand awareness, apparel companies and other firms have realized that brand salience is even more crucial. What precisely is brand salience?

In essence, brand salience refers to the ability to be recalled or noticed by consumers when they are poised to make a buying decision. For instance, In other words, salience is created when a brand with immense awareness is always remembered by customers at the opportune moment that they seek to buy something.

Mnemonics and Salience

Once the significance of salience is established, the next moot point – how does one foster brand salience? Here one must note that salience doesn’t happen of its own accord. Rather, it needs the use of focussed tactics backed by strategic thinking to deepen and broaden brand awareness, build positive brand recall and position a brand as a synonymous term for its category. The last point can be highlighted by examples such as insurance (LIC) and coffee (Café Coffee Day or Starbucks). 

The work of Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, front-runners in brand salience, reveals that this depends on the brain’s memory structures. When consumers remain exposed to brands over time, their brains develop an association with the brand name, logo, products, and other items. 

Consequently, Sharp and Romaniuk believe that brand salience is improved by the quantity and quality of memory structures. The quantity of memory structures is influenced by the number of times consumers come in contact with brands in forms such as marketing, advertising, presence on store shelves, etc. The more memory structures consumers develop for a brand, the greater the brand salience in numerous buying situations. The quality of memory structures is reliant on the strength of an association with brands and their relevance levels for customers, which varies as per the situation.

Considering the overload of information in the digital era, however, improving memory structures qualitatively and quantitatively is easier said than done. That is partly because digital-native cohorts are in the mind-space of ‘Seen it all, done it all’. As a result, any advertising or marketing campaign that is fake or affected will be smoked out easily.

When communicating with such a digitally-savvy target audience, fashion brands must be fully aware of what their products are all about and how they stand apart from the competition. In such an ultra-competitive market environment, mere differentiation won’t work – distinctiveness counts. Elevating brand campaigns and communiqués in this fashion can inspire customers to recall the company with greater salience.

Driving Differentiation and Distinctiveness

In an ocean of similarity, it is all about making a connect, more so, emotional and relatable. Apparel companies could drive an emotional connection with users via stories about their brands. Emotive stories can soon become ingrained in the memory of users. Creating distinct design assets can help consumers connect instantly with the brand, promoting salience even in a sea of costumes. If this is achieved, the brand will be an automatic choice during moments of buying conversion. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, consumers having an emotional connection with brands hold 3x higher lifetime values. In this context, TV ads play a pivotal role in building effective brand salience. No wonder IPL’s combined media rights (TV and digital) have fetched a record sum of more than Rs48,000 crore for the 2023-2027 cycle since advertisers understand its importance in creating brand salience. 

Also read: Vikrant says MOVE FAST LIVE SLOW With The World First 500 Day Warranty Collection; Collaborates With D2C Brand DaMENSCH

In fostering salience, the best way to take marketing initiatives to the next level is by following the 60/40 rule. Consider the insights from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s study on marketing effectiveness in the digital age. This indicates that the optimum balance between brand and demand is via a 60/40 ratio. That is, 60% of brand and 40% of direct response through both digital and legacy marketing. Through this approach, an optimal impact can be obtained in terms of awareness, sales, and pricing power.  

Of course, do remember that marketing and branding rules aren’t cast in stone. The 60/40 ratio could vary, depending on the types of fashion brands in question and their specific situations. In the case of premium products, brand-building efforts could be increased to 65 or 70%. 

In short, since the context can constantly keep changing for different fashion brands, they must pivot their approach as per the situation to ensure greater campaign effectiveness. In this way, brands can help influence the choices people make about which products and services to buy and at what price points. 

Given the plethora of companies jostling for salience, apparel brands must explore multiple marketing elements to step up their game and drive more distinctiveness and differentiation, including through digital campaigns. In this manner, brands can propel their campaigns to the next level where the mnemonic outcomes will be qualitatively and quantitatively robust. Needless to mention, in critical moments of purchase, brands could end up emerging as the first choice. 

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