Top of mind to tip of tongue

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Credit: Illustration by Mary Ellen Forte

Within the next five years, we'll probably be talking more to machines than humans.

Last year, 28 percent of people who had a voice-based device like Alexa or Google Assistant ordered an Uber with it, according to business consulting firm Capgemini. And that's just the beginning: Some forecasts show voice-based shopping growing to more than $40 billion by 2022 across the U.S. and U.K. Couple this with the power of social media, and the undeniable fact is that the (literal) voice of the consumer is more powerful than ever before.

Marketers are already seeing consumer behaviors change. Based on our proprietary research, 70 percent of the keywords used when searching with voice are different than those used with text, and people are 60 percent less likely to do a brand search using voice. For example, my 12-year-old daughter has been given the power to order chocolate once a week from Alexa. She either asks Alexa for chocolate or for M&Ms. If she doesn't name a brand, the algorithm helps her decide.

This changes the game for brands, and those of us who are stewards of brands. Yes, we have to learn how to market to an algorithm, but we also have to rethink how we market to consumers. In this new world, it isn't enough for brands to be top-of-mind—they must be talked about, mentioned proactively and demanded. This is what it means to be tip-of-tongue.

MediaCom conducted a custom study to determine what it takes to be a tip-of-tongue brand. By surveying 5,000 people and analyzing 444 million social conversations involving 90 brands, we gleaned three interesting insights.

Anush Prabhu is chief strategy officer at MediaCom
Anush Prabhu is chief strategy officer at MediaCom Credit: MediaCom

Tip-of-tongue brands are recalled 30 percent faster than other brands in the same category. They become a reflex for consumers. For example, Spotify was recalled 57 percent faster than other music streaming services, and Uber 43 percent faster than other ridesharing companies.

These brands are also part of the cultural conversation and, in some cases, they're even used as a verb, as in, "Let's Uber it to the party." While at one time some thought a brand like Kleenex becoming a generically used name was a curse—people would buy another brand yet call it Kleenex—in the world of voice this could be a blessing.

Finally, such brands are growing in value, both as a business and in terms of brand love.

Here are three tips on how to make your brand more tip-of-tongue.

Become culturally visible

Easier said than done. But culturally visible brands are 174 percent more likely to be tip-of-tongue, our study found. In a world of digital data-driven targeting, there's a danger that your brand becomes invisible despite garnering a broad reach in media. Marketers need to ensure their brand is visible in culture and permeates consumers' lives. We witnessed the business results of Nike taking a stand recently. Not every brand can or should do that, but every brand can permeate culture in its own way.

Become essential to consumers

Brands that consumers consider essential to their lives are 27 percent more likely to be tip-of-tongue. Essential brands tend to provide a utility or satisfy an unmet need. For example, Google satisfies our need for answers, while Facebook provides validation.

Create the right memory structures

Getting people to remember and mention your name is about creating the right memory structures: connecting your brand to triggers that bring it up in people's minds and on their tongues. For example, Snickers and satisfying hunger. Once those triggers are established, data-driven signals can help you leverage them to more effectively connect with and market to your consumer at times and places closer to the moment-of-purchase decisions.

Anush Prabhu is chief strategy officer at MediaCom

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