If we turn now to the question of advertising directed towards the consumer, it will be found that the main function of consumer goods promotion is to influence the customer's predisposition to buy the product before he walks into the shop. The public has become accustomed, by its experience of modern advertising methods, to the pre-selling process, so much so that a new product-especially in foodstuffs, toiletries and other heavily branded fields-which has not been extensively advertised is often greeted with suspicion. The housewife expects to be informed by advertising about a new product before she en-counters it in the supermarket.

This is the case especially with products which have what is known as a weak unique selling proposition. These are products which, regardless of their intrinsic quality, can claim no superiority of uniqueness against that of rival brands. A product in this category will usually require a greater amount of advertising than one which does possess the attribute of uniqueness. Indeed, if one is proposing to market a product whose unique selling proposition is weak it becomes necessary to decide the minimum level of advertising which is essential. If this level cannot be maintained, it may be unwise to try to put the product on the market at all.

In deciding the objectives of consumer advertising of branded goods, the first question we should consider is the coverage which is necessary to ensure adequate market penetration. This immediately poses a second question: to whom are we selling? The advertiser needs to know who buys his product, why they buy it and for what purposes they use it. He should also try to understand what it is about his particular brand that apparently makes it different, in the eyes of his customers, from those of his competitors. Having established who his customers are-that is, having defined the market segment at which his product is aimed -he must decide the means by which he will reach them. He must select advertising media which are likely to exert the most influence upon those particular consumers.

An assessment of objectives does not stop here. One must decide how much weight should be put behind the message to achieve sufficient impact upon this consumer group. Decisions in this matter will be influenced heavily by the extent of competitive advertising. In a market where one's competitors are shouting their sales messages loudly and repeatedly it is a sheer waste of one's advertising budget to attempt an occasional whisper. One will simply not be heard.

The nature of the product also will influence the assessment of advertising objectives. Very often, the consumer's view of a product differs from that of its manufacturer. Here again, consumer research plays a vital part because one needs to know just what it is that the consumer imagines he is buying.

Equally vital is consistency. Once an advertising theme has been established for a particular brand, the message one is trying to put over must not only be consistent but be seen by the-consumer to be consistent. If the advertising method is varied too widely, the user receives a distorted impression of what is being said. The result can be bewilderment and loss of impact. It should also be remembered that no customer makes a conscious decision to buy unless he believes that his action makes sense, that it is, in fact, a logical move. This has little to do with intelligence or education. Even an uneducated or unintelligent person does only what seems to him to be logical. Therefore, an advertising message which is illogical-which 'simply doesn't make sense'-will have no constructive influence.

To summarize, an assessment of advertising objectives will, therefore, include the following:

(1) The market segment at which the advertising is to be directed.

(2) The extent of advertising necessary to cover that market segment adequately.

(3) The weight of advertising needed to put over the message effectively.

Effective brand promotion does not stop, of course, with the advertising campaign. The message must be supported by the merchandising of the product, packaging, design and the use of point-of-sale material.

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