Column Ronald Jansen – Consulting Partner


I could very well be one of the last people on Twitter. It is nice to see though that some of the world’s most famous marketing scientists are still actively Twittering too. But, being the old-time Twitter follower that I am, I looked at their most recent discussion. This time it was between Mark Ritson and Byron Sharp. Reading through their tweets, I thought to myself: who are they helping with their arguments? I bet it’s not marketers. I bet they don’t even bother reading these discussions.

Let me summarise the discussion for you: Ritson starts off by saying differentiation and targeting are not the same, and that it is confusing. ‘No, it’s not’, says Sharp. ‘If differentiation affects buying behaviour, differentiated brands will much more appeal to one segment’. To which Ritson responds: ‘so why use segmentation to dismiss differentiation?’

Are you still following? The tweets back and forth carry on for a bit when someone (I guess a more hands-on marketer) raises the question: if differentiation does not drive growth, wouldn’t the use of generic brand names be much more prevalent? Sharp responds: ‘read How Brands Grow.’

Sure, it’s a great discussion. But marketers seek for answers, where scientists love to argue for the sake of argument. In our annual Brand Growth study among 300 marketers, we saw for the second time that only 1 out of 5 marketers read Sharp’s book. So yes, there is a true gap between their work and that of marketer’s. My feeling is that these Twitter discussions will not help bridge this gap either. Just referring to the HBG book is not enough: last year I was in one room with Sharp and a few hundred marketers and he said the same: read the book. So, I did. But I still find it difficult bringing it to practice. Sharp reacted by saying that HBG was not meant to be a handbook for good marketing. So, there you go.

That’s why we want to start closing the gap this year. DVJ Insights is developing an extensive academic platform, working closely with lots of scientists from many universities. We will have a PhD working on our marketing data and organising the Ingredients for Brand Growth (CMO interviews). All with one purpose: translating the most relevant issues from the academic world to the everyday marketing business. So, stay tuned and constantly ask yourself the question: how can this help me to grow my brand? We at DVJ are more than willing to help you with that. In our upcoming newsletters as well as during the Brand Growth Event, we will share our findings. Always bringing science and marketing closer together.