When Awareness and Preference is Not Enough.

Not many people remember a product called Zima and that’s the point of this post. As a marketing professional I’ve always been interested in new product introductions and advertising campaigns in general – how well do they work? how long do they “run” (suggesting that the positive effects are continuing to produce results or, if nothing else, that the agency and client haven’t “pulled the plug” prematurely).

In addition, as someone who is not a “beer drinker” I was interested several years ago when a new product was introduced – Zima – a beer-based beverage that was supposed to be light and refreshing. Hmm. Sounded interesting. The campaign was extensive, attention-getting and effective – to a degree. It raised awareness. It generated preference (at least initially). All was good. Right? Wrong.

It may come as a shock to some, but generating advertising awareness and preference is not enough – at least not from a big-picture “marketing” standpoint. What else do you need?

Well, *most importantly* you need a good product or service that consumers will try (after you’ve generated awareness and preference, which is certainly important). But if they try your product or service and never try it again *and* never tell their friends, relatives, business associates, etc., how great it was, you’ve got a problem.

That’s what happened with Zima – it just didn’t taste good. Eventually the product went away and, since then, has been replaced with similar, but better, products that have proven sustainable – Mike’s Hard Lemonade, for instance.

The bottom line – advertising should not occur absent other important elements of the marketing mix: a strong product/service and access to that product/service (e.g. if you create demand that you aren’t able to fill because your product isn’t available – this happened when the Segway was initially introduced after a massive and very effective campaign), you’ve similarly failed.

Generate awareness and preference, yes. Those are the threshold steps that must take place before a purchase transaction. But make sure you’re able to back up that awareness and preference with availability and a product that consumers will actually like.

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