Consumer Insights: How to avoid Brand Fatigue

04 March 2021

You know those ads that just stick in your head? 


Like these...


PI Blog Brand Fatigue - popular ads


Having the entire world knowing your advert is fantastic - right? But at what cost? Are consumers even engaged, let alone responsive to your brand as a result? Research[1] shows that extreme levels of brand exposure to its customer may in fact detract from the campaign’s emotional impact and the product’s desirability, potentially having a detrimental effect on the brand value and message altogether.


In today’s digital world, we get bombarded with 6,000-10,000[2] ads per day, yikes… with the COVID-19 pandemic only increasing our exposure. Last spring, during the peak lockdown, people watched an additional 8 hours of television per week and spent 50-70% more time online than they did before. Online shopping and app downloads increased, and, as a direct result, people received more exposure to ads.[3] So, how many ads is too many ads? When we continuously advertise to an oversaturated market, what’s the impact?


When we become so saturated with a brand message our brains opt to ignore it altogether[4], numbing the campaign’s desired impact and falling short of the feelings it intended to convey. This phenomenon is known as ‘brand fatigue’.


Garfield watching tv


This happens in some industries more than others. Our research shows brand fatigue is particularly prominent in car and beauty advertising, with consumers finding campaign imagery 46% less distinctive than other sectors. However, within the watch sector campaign distinction is perceived 70% higher. The most noticeable difference between these industries is brand exposure and frequency of ad outreach.



A deep-dive into Automotive advertising

Using the results of our Perception Index®, we’re able to identify key demographic trends at both a sector and individual campaign level. Investigating the results at industry level allows us to detect why certain ads have the impact they do and ultimately decipher which sectors are advertising well or not. For example, in the Automotive sector we tested European SUV campaigns against different demographics (UK vs USA) and the overall audience perception significantly differs between the territories. 


PI Blog Brand Fatigue - Arrows


Our results show that US respondents found the imagery considerably more unique and had a stronger positive emotional pull than UK respondents. This style of advertising was distinctly European and was shown to people both in the UK and US. 


The SUV market in the UK is a significant one, making up around 1/3 of all cars on the road. And the advertising reflects this. Conversely, in the US, the SUV demand is much smaller and directly competes with the much more popular truck market. Our results show that respondents who have higher levels of exposure to SUV ads, found the imagery to be much less distinctive and desirable. For example, UK respondents have so much visibility of SUV campaign imagery that it fails to stand out, which has a negative impact on campaign launch success. 


PI Blog 1 - PI Brand Fatigue Car with Graph

Perception Index ref: image example of distinction vs desire


These results identify a direct correlation between distinction and desire, which could be driven by increased campaign exposure.    


So, how do you avoid brand fatigue? Here are a few insights: 

  1. Choosing quality ads over quantity ensures campaign impact. Ensure you aren’t wasting marketing budget on advertising that is having a detrimental impact on brand perception. 

  2. Understanding if your brand imagery is emotionally attractive and stands out from the crowd will make for more proactive communication with your target audience. 

  3. Avoid over exposure of your brand by increasing targeted and personalised approaches. This will increase the emotional impact on your consumer.

  4. Identify what makes your brand and product unique. Advertise this distinction and increase product and brand desirability. How much an image stands out can have a direct impact on the desirability.

  5. Understand your different market’s desires (eg, US vs UK) - consider cross pollinating your marketing strategies to keep campaign imagery unique at a global level.

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All results in this blog come from the Saddington Baynes Perception Index®. A benchmark ranking 50 brands across 5 sectors including: Automotive, Fragrance, Cosmetics, Beverage and Watches, giving brands across the world previously hidden insights about the campaign and image effectiveness.

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