70% of all brands will be gone in 2025…

One out of six American households has a smart box, and Apple still has to introduce one and Sonos still has to get their software right. Google and Amazon are already preparing for an invasion in our households, hoping that marketers and brand owners continue to sleep. Because that is what they do. In big numbers, while they should be panicking right now.

Think along with me. One out of six – and in 2020 one out of four- American households will do their groceries by calling their orders to their smart box Alexa, Siri, or Cortana. How it works: ’’Alexa, there is no cola left, where is cola the cheapest?’’ Alexa answers: ’’ There is an offer of Pepsi at Albert Heijn’’. ‘’No…, we don’t want Pepsi, but Coke.’’. ‘’Ok’’, answers the algorithm, ‘’Then I order Coke’’, because machines do not contradict. No problem for Coke or Pepsi, neither for Calvé, Heinz ketchup or Heineken. But what about toilet paper? With sandwich bags, detergents, pepper and salt, sauces, cheese and dairy? Are the brands in these categories strong enough to endure the mother of all litmus tests? Are the associations that are connected to the brand relevant enough to create a valuable distinction? It is estimated that for 70% of all brands this will not be the case and they will therefore disappear.

Brand-based studies – measured in the consumer’s subconscious – show that the ‘evoked set’ within a category seldom or never consists of more than three brands. This American MRI-study learns that removing the number one out of an evoked set does not automatically lead to a shift to the top: the number two will not automatically become number one. Worrying insights for brands that do not belong to a high-interest category or do not have a primary preference. And there are quite a few. It is therefore important to become a strong brand as soon as possible; category leader. You do that by activating exactly those associations that make your brand the preferred brand in the most efficient way as possible. But yes, what associations are they?

Strong brands
To become a strong brand, you first need to know what a strong brand is. At Neurensics we use different measures for different target groups: the NPS among current users (loyalty), a comparison of non user and users (acquisition), and finally the difference in associations between light and heavy users (deep selling). If we take the NPS as an example, in a MRI study we have learned that people only give a high grade (8, 9, or 10) when the precuneus and medial prefrontal cortex are activated (fig. 1). Theses areas are associated with personal relevance and a positive valuation. It seems logical if you think about it; a strong brand for users is not only highly appreciated, but is also relevant.

Brand Associations
Loyalty is only a part of a brand’s strength. Byron Sharp made clear that acquisition and deep selling are more important for most brands. Thus, in addition to the NPS, we also make clear which implicit associations are needed to turn a non user into a user, or a light user in a heavy user.

To be among the winners within your category, you need to be sure that you activate the right associations.

Psychological warfare
The great thing about these studies is that – in order to compare your brand with other brands in the market – you also have to investigate all relevant competitors. That might take some time and money, but the revenues are unprecedented. You have a neural market signature that indicates with a scientific reliability which associations need to be ‘on’ to be successful. You have your own brand position in this. And you also have the brand associations of your competitors: their strength and their Achilles heel. This way marketing achieves its apotheosis: psychological warfare between the brands. Start today because: “The winner takes all”.



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