Bisto, Camelot, Virgin Trains and the New York Bakery Co. all exemplified markets with a single dominant brand, each of which had to grow consumer penetration to realise ambitious growth targets.
It is worth noting also that product innovation played a role in most of the 13 cases of market growth – among others, for Karcher window cleaners, easyJet and Gü puddings. In fact, it could be argued that innovation is almost a prerequisite of market growth and – by extension – that innovation must be present alongside one of Broadbent’s other conditions. Indeed, to quote from Broadbent’s original paper, ‘innovation and quality improvement (in the consumer’s interest) are plausibly the more important factors [than advertising].’
Why, then, is it the case that most advertising seems not to grow market size? I can offer two possible explanations here. Firstly, that a combination of product innovation and one of the conditions outlined by Broadbent seldom occurs.
Secondly, and perhaps more commonsensically, is the simple fact that across our case studies, and in markets more generally, some kind of substitution probably occurred: that when a consumer bought more of one thing, they bought less of something similar. The result was that the overall market did not grow.
This leads me to the second lesson to be taken from Broadbent’s original paper, beneath the headline that individual advertising efforts tend not to grow markets. Namely, that the question of whether advertising grows markets cannot be truly answered until a particular market is meaningfully defined, ideally by consumers (rather, that is, than by manufacturers, retailers, research companies or even lobbyists, who will each seek to define a market to serve their own best interests), and that a careful definition of our ‘market’ has wider benefits for practitioners, as the definition chosen will affect the way advertising is planned, deployed and evaluated.