21 Jul 2024 05:46

Advertising & Marketing

Why brands need to be more like Lewis Hamilton

With just the Abu Dhabi race to go this year, Lewis Hamilton is firmly entrenched at the top of the Formula One leader board. His current position is the result of multiple wins and hard work, both from the driver and team Mercedes. When faced with today’s short-termism, marketers might do well to reflect on Hamilton’s success.

Whenever we integrate brand equity and behavioural purchase data, we find that the stronger someone’s predisposition to buy a brand the more likely they are to follow through on it and make a purchase. It is the Formula One effect. If you are Lewis Hamilton and have pole position on the grid, then there is a pretty good chance that you will win the race. Not guaranteed, but more likely than if you start at the back of the grid. Superior driver skills developed over the years will help ensure that Hamilton makes the most of the opportunity.

When we track people’s online behaviour we find that people predisposed to buy a specific brand (the one in pole position) typically take less time and actions searching and shopping and end up buying their intended brand compared to those with a broader set of alternatives in mind. Getting a brand to pole position requires upfront investment seeding motivating ideas, impressions, and feelings; analogous to qualifying performance, development of a driver’s skills and the constructor’s ability to improve vehicle performance within a tightly controlled set of specifications.

Of course, there are brands that are found during the process of search and shopping. This is the equivalent of Lewis Hamilton winning the podium from the back of the pack. Overcoming people’s instinctive predisposition toward brands they know, however, will likely require people to invest time in a more deliberative assessment. The degree to which they are willing to do that will vary depending on the perceived importance of the decision, and the found brand will either needs to display Hamilton-like prowess or offer a better price in order to make the sale.

Like drivers, brands take time to realize their full potential and it takes a while for them to build strong predisposition. But the benefits are important. The more people are predisposed to buy a brand the higher the proportion that follow through and buy it. Across a range of categories I find that if 5 percent of people are predisposed to buy a brand roughly 60 percent follow through and buy the brand, but if you can increase predisposition to 10 percent then 75 percent will do so. This is Double Jeopardy in action, but, of course, it is not just brand strength that helps ensure this effect, it is also the fact that big brands are more easily available.

When it comes to making a sale the odds are in favour of brands that people are predisposed to buy. But predisposition does not come out of thin air; like Lewis Hamilton, successful brands are the ones that develop qualities over time to ensure they end up in pole position.


Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown.

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