The Mere Exposure Effect

A sword with mere exposure on it swings between two cartoon men

Brand marketing takes many forms. From direct to indirect marketing, the competition in the market is such that constant innovation is needed. The global economy means that brands face tougher competition. Where brands would only compete within a country, they now compete internationally.

For survival, organizations are turning to more and more sophisticated marketing strategies. Where marketing was previously regarded as an art, it is now also a science. Far more research goes into marketing than ever before to ensure its efficacy.

One of the subtlest yet most effective marketing tools is mere exposure.

What is Mere Exposure Marketing?

The Mere-Exposure Effect is also known as the Familiarity Principle. This is a psychological concept. In essence, it states that people develop preferences for that with which they are familiar.

Since most marketing is psychological, it’s no wonder that the concept of mere exposure has entered the world of brand advertising and consciousness. Brands are kept visible so that they remain in the forefront of the consumer’s memory. Think of branded digital signage for a clothing store or restaurant and how they always have their brand displayed on screen.

The constant exposure creates a sense of familiarity. In an overwhelmingly fast-paced world, people seek a sense of comfort that comes from familiarity. The sense of feeling at ease is important for the modern psyche.

The Rise of Mere Exposure Marketing

Social media advertising has enhanced the capability of brands to make use of mere exposure marketing. Organizations post information about their brands and products across multiple platforms to make sure they remain in the consumer’s consciousness.

Social media marketing has become such a scientific process that posts are tailored across platforms to make sure the target audience is reached. One thing that remains consistent is the promotion of the brand with its picture or slogan. The constant reminders that consumers receive on social media make mere exposure marketing easier than ever before.

Allowing brands to enter a social media user’s feed is a sophisticated tool that requires the application of artificial intelligence resources. The approach pays huge dividends.

Consumers who might never have heard of the brand start learning about it. This is because they fit into a demographic parameter identified as the target market.

The brand now becomes part of their daily lives as they access their social media accounts. Soon, a sense of familiarity and comfort is achieved which stimulates the consumer’s preference.

The Medium of Mere Exposure Marketing

To create their brand as a consumer preference, marketers need to use different media to reach potential customers. As individuals, customers have preferences about how they receive their information. Some like written text which they retain in their memories easily. Others prefer to see visual images while many like to hear about the product.

Catering to different customer preferences can maximize the effect of mere exposure marketing. People want to read about the brand, see the brand, and hear about the brand.

A good social media marketing strategy will include different media to ensure that the brand reaches many people despite their information reception preferences. Providing information about the brand combining different media allows the organization constant access to the consumer’s subconscious.

Is Social Media the Only Way to Utilize the Principles of Mere Exposure Marketing?

While social media is a convenient and direct way of applying the principles of mere exposure marketing, there are other methods.

Billboards, placards, and digital signage also form part of a mere exposure marketing strategy. Their presentation to the customer ‘in real life’ instead of on social media creates another level of comfort. The brand seems more real.

If you owned a small coffee shop, you could use mere exposure as part of your cafe marketing. A lot of people would be walking past your shop on the sidewalk. An advertising board with the name, logo or slogan, and products of the coffee shop should be placed in the exact same place every day. Over the passage of time, the information becomes ingrained in the memories of the people who walk by the shop. That advertising board has begun to create a customer preference for the brand and the products.

Tips for Maximizing the Effect of Mere Exposure Marketing

  1. Have a memorable slogan, jingle or catchphrase. Don’t be afraid to update it from time to time. Many marketers worry that making changes means starting all over again to win the mind of the consumer. This might happen if a total overhaul is done. However, subtle tweaks won’t make that big of a difference.
  2. Have a brand ambassador. A person who makes eye contact with the consumer and speaks to them is inclined to win consumer preference.
  3. Prioritize images over text. You’re trying to leave an impression on a person walking by with something on their mind, images can get through much faster than text.

A Word of Warning

For successful mere exposure marketing, like most things, quality is more important than quantity. The quality of a marketing campaign instead of the number of advertisements wins the day every time. You can learn more on why it’s so important to maintain this quality of branding with our guide to the Halo Effect.

Final Thoughts

There are many creative ways in which companies can apply the principle of mere exposure marketing. A winning combination will widen the customer base and give the brand a competitive edge. This is just one part on how to use psychology and biology with marketing to better influence your customers. If you’d like to read more, please check out our Guide to Biology and Digital Signage!

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