Deep inside, every emerging brand that aspires to be famous wants to be in the news, on TV, on TikTok, or on whatever other media channel gets mass reach. Mass media still has this stamp of “making-it” that no niche ultra-targeted channel can offer.
But no one starts on mass media.
Kind Bar, Blue Buffalo, Chobani, Warby Parker, and Airbnb started online, talking directly to their potential consumers.
Building direct-to-consumer relationships, dialing up the role of social media or organic search or generating as much owned content as an established newspaper. All this enabled their hockey stick patterns of growth.
While this happened, big brands took notice. Marketers worldwide read dozens of case studies highlighting the startup brand’s agile decision-making style, direct to consumers communication, and the so much hyped new growth models that reject the old ways of building brands – reach and mass media.
Little is known that mass media played a big role in the communication mix behind every successful startup brand that became huge. Not in the beginning, but certainly in the scaling phase when initial growth rates plateau.
My view is you can build a niche brand by narrowly targeting potential buyers, but you can’t build a mass brand without mass media.
Today, Blue Buffalo’s advertising spend on mass media is larger than its main competitors’ combined spend. I would assume that Warby Parker leads the eyewear category too. And Chobani is outspending most other dairy brands in the US. Surprised? I am not. These startup brands understood the power of mass marketing communications once they graduated from their startup mentality.
But every big brand stood on the sidelines and wished for something else. They wished the startup brands would’ve discovered something else, something cooler, something the established brands could’ve stolen with pride.
But they didn’t discover anything new.
In a world of advertising where a brand like Amazon doubles its ad budget year on year to become one of the largest brands on TV, it’s impossible to claim that mass marketing is dead – unless you are Gary Vee.
Emerging brand rise to fame using mass media.