Brands need to balance short and long-term

by Nigel Hollis | November 28, 2018

I was browsing the Kantar Media’s 2018 Dimensions report (well worth a read), when I came across a section on the need to strike a better balance between short and long-term. This seems to be a topic of increasing interest to marketers, but how do you find the right balance?

The Kantar Media report points to the plethora of digital convenience metrics available to us today and states,

“It may be easy, and even superficially appealing to deliver thousands of likes, click-throughs

or retweets but if there is no way of associating such information with business success the

use of the information is limited.”

And that is the problem with convenience metrics, there is little evidence that they relate to direct sales impact or building brand equity. But that simply points to a wider problem; there is no agreement on what we should be measuring right now to anticipate longer-term effects.


All marketing activity – be it designed to build the brand or stimulate immediate sales – needs to work now. Whatever the activity is, it must reach the people it is intended to influence, be noticed, and evoke some form of response. That response needs to happen immediately; however, the behavioural outcome of that response may be delayed weeks or even years, particularly in the case of activities designed to build brand predisposition.

If you can influence someone who is actively searching or shopping, then the behavioural outcome will likely be apparent quickly and easily if all the buying process happens in the digital domain. However, there is much more likely to be a temporal disconnect for brand marketing activities because they are designed to influence both people shopping right now, and people who will shop at a later date.

Simply influencing people shopping a category now is not enough to grow a brand – or rather it is a tough sell unless people are already predisposed to buy that brand. To grow, brands must reach outside their existing brand bubble and influence potential new shoppers. And to do that, brands need to seed ideas and feelings that will help influence behaviour when they do start shopping at a later date.

For years Kantar Millward Brown has found that one thing which anticipates whether a marketing activity is likely to be effective over the longer-term, is that people think they have seen your brand advertised. This is not just some leftover from the days of traditional TV; we see the same thing with our Brand Lift Insights measurement of digital advertising. If people do not remember your brand being advertised, it is highly unlikely that you will see any increase between test and control cells in salience, brand favourability, or purchase intent.

So step number one in anticipating whether your marketing activity will have a long-term influence? Check whether anyone remembers it in relation to your brand today. But what do you think? Please share your thoughts.

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  1. Peter, November 28, 2018

    Hi Nigel. I completely agree with this and thank you for the insights from KMB, but I think that there is a third challenge for marketers:

    (1) Deliver short-term goals.

    (2) Deliver long-term brand growth.

    (3) Do this responsibly and sustainably.

    This is a huge challenge. Doing any one of these is within reach of most marketing professionals.  The three together is a stretch, but will lead to brands that will be around for the foreseeable future.

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