Wiemer Snijders, editor of the book Eat Your Greens: Fact Based Thinking To Improve Your Brand’s Health, wrote an article for Mumbrella titled The unbearable lightness of buying, as told by an old jar of pesto. The articles begins with Mr. Snijders finding a 6-year old jar of pesto in his refrigerator.

« Surely, my purchase will have been of little value to this pesto brand? Let’s put that assumption to the test. »

« The brand is well known, yet almost three quarters of its buyers bought it five times or less, together realising nearly 30% of annual sales. This seems surprising, yet marketing science says that it is quite normal. The pattern is closely predicted by a statistical curve, the negative binomial distribution or NBD. Every brand’s customer base is like this, as Ehrenberg (inter alia) has pointed out. »

« This pattern in buying behaviour is so regular that it can be successfully modelled, and the predicted values used to understand and benchmark actual or future brand performance measures. The pattern underpins much of the evidence presented in Byron Sharp’s 2010 book How Brands Grow, and is incorporated in the underlying theory of the NBD-Dirichlet model, labelled as one of marketing science’s greatest achievements. »

« Take a brand like Dove. During the period analysed, this brand grew its share by 50% and ran its famous and numerously awarded ‘Dove for Real Beauty’ campaign; yet [marketing scientist Charles] Graham’s data shows that a little over one-third of Dove’s buyers still only bought it once. Only once. In six years… And over 80% of Dove’s buyers bought the brand at the rate of once a year or less. Still, this group turned in more than half of their sales. »

« It is not prescriptive: it doesn’t tell managers what to do. Instead it is descriptive: it describes what normally happens (and what doesn’t), so knowledge of it helps to make marketing simpler and more effective. »

« If you are a great brand, attracting this majority of buyers into your customer base requires a creative, single-minded approach to the task of maintaining your rightful place in their minds and on store shelves…  Be noticed, and be there when you are needed – welcome old friends and reach out to new ones. Don’t just talk to your best friends. »

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