"The Relevance-Accessibility Model of Advertising Effectiveness | 1993"


In this follow-up to the 1988 article, the three brand choice decision processes identified by the RAM -- indifference, satisfying and optimizing -- are laid out in detail. Step by step guidelines are provided to maximize advertising effectiveness when consumers employ each of these processes. Consumers tend to be 'indifferent' when they perceive little or no brand differentiation and no negative consequences of a non-optimal choice. In this situation, the goal of integrated marketing communications should be to maximize the salience of the brand name relative to competing brand names at the point of brand choice. Salience is maximized by massive repetition of the brand name and through association of the brand name to positive imagery (e.g., visuals, music, celebrities, sports sponsorships, etc.). Consumers tend to 'satisfice' when they perceive significant brand differentiation, but no serious consequences of a non-optimal brand choice. Here, the goal of integrated marketing communications is to maximize the credibility of the brand relative to competing brands. Credibility is maximized by demonstrating that the brand is a standard of quality in the category in which it competes. The key to successful communications is to identify the most potent 'quality cues' to associate to the brand (e.g., warranties, endorsements, third-party test results, lifestyle fit etc.). Consumer tend to 'optimize' when they perceive significant brand differentiation and serious consequences to a non-optimal choice. It is only in this scenario that the goal of integrated marketing communications should be to prove superiority to competing brand alternatives. Superiority is maximized by facilitating direct comparisons to competitors on the benefit dimensions that are most important to the consumer (e.g., features, benefits, status, lifestyle expression, etc.).