So what is the correlation between these two levers and how can SOV be used to drive, predict or impact TOMA in a Nigerian context?
Awareness is usually the main building block to a relationship between consumers and a brand. This would start from unawareness of the brand and reach the top level of brand awareness, commonly known as TOMA. Various brands use different philosphies but the end game being the same to define the relationship along the consumer journey.
From unaware, the next step is knowing about the brand although they are yet to interact with it. Let’s use the current Nigerian lager beer scenario. Two new brands, Budweiser and Tiger, have been launched in the market.
If you asked most consumers (except those who were attended the respective launch events at the Landmark or Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, Lagos), they are largely unaware of the existence of these brands. Now the challenge is how does the brand manager of either one of these brands push their awareness levels from unaware to the TOMA level?
So let’s call stage 1 completely unaware of the brand. That means that a lot of effort and spend on media (ATL and BTL) will be required to drive brand recognition and presence. However, the communication must be breakthrough, engaging and translate into eventual trial and repertoire.
An example would be the current Airtel Ad, which (in my own opinion), took an interesting twist from a scene in the epic Wedding Party movie and leveraged on it to make a memorable ad that connects self image and an extended expression of the ladies involved in a comical way. The reason the ad resonates well with Nigerian consumers is a reflection of the competing “Owambe” scenes where both in-laws showcase their prowess. However, that does not mean that Airtel gained share in data usage, although the current consumer confusion with Etisalat and 9 Mobile could sway some users. That’s a story for another day.
So back to our journey. Stage 2 would be interesting, where the consumers are now aware of of the brand but they are yet to use it. This is also dependent on the category and how much the brands are activated at the ATL and BTL levels to drive usage. This is where sampling is a good initiative to drive trial and trigger repeat purchase. Star Radler was able to do this effectively at Ikeja City Mall.
This would also depend on other market factors such as distribution, trade margins and consumer desire. Case in point was La Casera which was very good with using the trade partners (especially in Lagos traffic) to drive volumes. However, the brand has lost ground recently, ceding share as CCNL pushed their Fanta Apple variant more aggresively using the same price point. They knew which distributors to speak to and influence their brand presence while closely matching the taste profiles for La Casera and Fanta Apple that consumers could hardly tell the difference.
Stage 3 would be where consumers know about the brand and they have now tried it. In classic research terms, this is where the consumer disposition funnel starts to take effect and the combined effort of advertising above and below the line accompanied by experiential and sampling events drive endearment of the brands to consumers (this is the challenge that Tiger and Budweiser face).
The final variable that tilts the scale is the consumer interaction, where if positive, they will use word of mouth and positive referrals to be advocates of the brand. The same holds true if the impact is negative, they will discredit the brand to their drinking friends, peers and relatives and colleagues. So at the point is when you start seeing a correlation between SOV and TOMA starting to develop.
Stage 4 would be a case where they move up the awareness and interaction journey or part of the repertoire and start consuming the brand a lot more, advocating it to others users if their experience is positive. Trade factors such as availability and pricing of the brand also help or frustrate this journey depending on the consumer interaction. Functional benefits such as refreshment, taste, quality and packaging are key in driving brand engagement and building the emotional connection and how consumers feels after drinking the brand, therefore driving more loyalty and endearment.
Stage 5 is where a lot of leading brands would sit, where there is a high correlation between awareness and usage and drive loyalty among consumers. It is at this point where SOV and TOMA has an almost one to one correlation. Take the case of brand Coca-Cola. They spend a lot of money on their communications to continously (and sub-consciously)impact their consumers by a heavy presence through ATL, BTL, online but also in market dominance.
For such brands, it’s usually a no brainer that SOV matches their TOMA numbers and they jealously guard this prime position through continous engagement with consumers along the way blended with creative, ground breaking advertising. They are also innovators and risk takers in new marketing concepts and ideas.
So back to our lager beer drinkers and what has been their experience over time. For a long time, Star Lager has been and continues to be Nigeria’s most iconic lager brand. But the brand has been facing serious headwinds as consumers migrated to the other mainstream brands like Goldberg, Trophy, Life, 33 Export and Satzenbrau that appealed to the consumer desire while delivering a positive experience and reinforced their value proposition to Nigerian drinkers.
Price was a key lever for their migration to these brands as well as the connection and engagement platforms of speaking to consumer in their local language and positioning these regional brands as ‘proudly’ ours. For example, Goldberg, communicates ‘Eni Iyin’ in Yoruba language, which translates to person of honour. Hero Lager was recently conferred with the “red cap” crown cork using the “Mnanyya ejiri mara Igbo”, that translates to the lager with which Igbos are known and speaking to a symbolic element of Igbo culture.
Over time, Star’s SOV is still high as the brand continues to be more visible and extend itself into new variants like Star Lite, Star Radler and Star Triple X (which in my opinion, confused core Star drinkers). The other two variants helped the Star masterbrand to continue holding a leading TOMA position over time.
Star has also secured sponsorship of the Nigerian Football Federation as well as global partnerships with iconic football brands like Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester City, PSG and Arsenal. They have recently added Barcelona and Chelsea to this amazing array to tap into Nigerians’ passion for football.
While Star faces a continued challenge by the emerging mainstream brands, global brands like Heineken have maintained a consistent performance owing to their global appeal, engagement with UEFA Champions league and Formula one. They have also ensured that they have a sustained and consistent connection between the brand experience and communication.
Another global iconic brand, Guinness continues to maintain it’s presence with heavy SOV presence and sponsorship of the Premier League (but the question begs, has this translated into growth of the stout category in Nigeria or is it a case of the brand defending and maintaning it’s eye ball advantage? Let stray for a minute and remember their Michael Power campaign or Udeme campaigns. Interesting campaigns right, but did they help Guinness Nigeria elevate their connection with stout consumers and drive more uptake?
So while SOV remains a key driver to brands gaining and maintaining the top level TOMA that they all desire, it requires consistent and constant marketing communication coupled with engaging on ground activities to drive both awareness and usage while building loyalty over time.
SOV is also subject to budgets and internal business priorities that dictate how the money will be distributed across brands. Case in point is brand Sprite that used to sponsor the Sprite Triple Slam activation over the years. At some point, CCNL pulled their spend on the brand but this did little to impact core lemon-lime users in Eastern Nigeria as their affinity for this category and reference for Sprite as the default brand had been built over time.
The entry of Mountain Dew and constant communication push by Seven Up helped offer consumers more options but this did not necessarily translate into increased TOMA or market share for either Pepsico brands. The consumers continued “obeying their thirst” and drinking Sprite.
In my opinion, SOV is a critical enabler to driving brands up the consumer disposition funnel and achieving the TOMA status but it does not necessarily mean that because your SOV is high, your TOMA will also increase. It is a journey for a brand in their lifecycle. For brands with low TOMA, you might decide to invest ahead in SOV in order to drive long time gains on the brand. It is a long time investment behind the brand. You are not likely to see immediate results. It is also important to explore new and emerging platforms like social media platforms like Instagram to continuously engage with your consumers.
For clever markerters and brand teams, it is more about a balance between your presence as a brand in the consumer’s list of choices (and trust you me, they are quite many for lager beers in Nigeria) and dellivering on your brand promise from an emotional and functional point of view (where you ensure the market factors like distribution, pricing, promotions are well aligned).
Can you then use SOV to predict TOMA? This is a tricky one because SOV would be driven by the size of the budget that a brand has and what role it plays in the business portfolio. So you might have a high SOV but that does not translate into TOMA. What is key is to observe SOV trends over time (at least four quarters to reduce the impact of seasonality) and then match what has been the corresponding gain or loss in TOMA to check if the correlation is consistent.
SOV definitely has an impact on TOMA but this needs to be a clever effort between the brand team, media and creative agency, activation team, sales and eventually, at the beer parlour, where the sum of all the consumer experiences come to live when they chose brand A over brand B.
In conclusion, brands should invest more in keeping consumers engaged by coming up with clever, shorter ads (between 5 and 15 seconds) that are engaging and easily shared (and memorable) that will ignite their desire to consume the brands. Matching the brand proposition and eventual excitement (or disappointment) will always yield great results that impact the bottomline.
SOV – Share of Voice
TOMA – Top of Mind Awareness
Independent thoughts from a consumer perspective –