Consumers don't think in terms of brands, they think in terms of needs. As soon as they have a need for a product or service, it is important that your brand pops up in their brain. This is also called mental availability. In our previous blog Category Entry Points are an important catalyst. In this edition, you will read more about mental availability and how to consciously use it to grow your brand.

But what exactly is mental availability? In his book How Brands Grow 2 , Byron Sharp defines it as the probability that a buyer notices or recognises a brand, or thinks about it in a buying situation. What not everyone knows is that there is a one-to-one relationship between your mental market share and your actual market share. Insights into the relationship between the mental versus the real market share can teach you a lot about how you can further grow your brand.

In practice, your mental market share can be larger than your actual market share, as in the case of Tesla, for example. If you ask people to name a brand for an electric car, Tesla will be top of mind for many people. Yet not everyone has the opportunity to buy a Tesla. The opposite is also possible, of course. For example, Renault has a larger real market share than its mental market share. More people own a Renault than Renault is the first car brand to pop up in consumers' minds. This may seem a desirable position, but it certainly does not have to be. A competitor who has fewer physical barriers, for instance because the product is more easily available, can easily steal away your customers. It is therefore extremely important for marketers to have insight into the current mental availability of their brand. With this knowledge, you can subsequently map out which steps you need to take to realise brand growth.

Determining mental market share

But how do you know how your mental availability is? First, you find out your mental market share. You do this by looking at how many different associations your brand has with respect to your competitors.

The fictitious example above shows that in this case Volkswagen comes up in the consumer's mind with two associations compared to the other three brands. This means that Volkswagen's mental market share is 40 per cent in relation to the market.

Mental range mapping

Your mental range is also important. With this you find out how many people from your target group think of your brand at all once in one of these situations.

Above you can see that one of the two people was thinking of Volkswagen, which would mean a mental range of 50 per cent for Volkswagen.

And then there is network size. Network size says 'if I have all these different situations and people think of my brand, in how many situations do they do that on average?' How many CEPs have you claimed as a brand, and how many are linked to you? Byron Sharp states that the more associations you can link to your brand, the greater the chance that you will grow as a brand. However, it is important not to try to link too many CEPs to your brand, because this can cause confusion cause.

The route to more market share

In short, mental availability starts with a need within your category. Next, consumers, if they have that need, have to think of your brand. And you do that by moving up in the brain as a brand in the purchase situation. Once you have entered the consumer's mind in that relevant situation, it is also important that you are physically available. If the consumer thinks of your brand, it must be easy to purchase. This is how you increasingly increase your real market share.

After reading this article, do you want to know how you can use mental availability for your brand? Watch the webinar here recording of our webinar or contact our client consultants.

This blog was written by Jelmer Wit & Melissa Trebes.

This article can also be read at MarketingTribune.