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How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,564 ratings  ·  190 reviews
This book provides evidence-based answers to the key questions asked by marketers every day. Tackling issues such as how brands grow, how advertising really works, what price promotions really do & how loyalty programs really affect loyalty.
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published April 12th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  2,564 ratings  ·  190 reviews

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Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
What happens when you subject fashionable marketing theories to actual observed behaviours and supporting statistics? Most of them crumble. This book is surprising and forehead slappingly obvious in equal measure. It peels away accepted truths and paints a more rational picture of customers as "uncaring cognitive misers". Next time you hear somebody trying to sell the power of brand personalities, segmented targeting strategies, or long term algorithmic growth forecasting in a meeting - take a w ...more
Tùng Lâm
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Depressing! The book's advices are only suitable for big FMCG brands that aim to be the market leader. Meanwhile traditional marketing methodology is still appropriate for small brands.

Conclusion: Insightful but not practical.
Xavier Van
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an outstanding book for anyone who is interested in selling - which since all business is selling, should be anyone in business.

It debunks quite a lot of ideas around marketing - e.g. there is no such thing as loyalty - most big brands are big because they have massive distribution so it makes is more likely consumers will find them on the shelves when they're looking for something in the category. The nice thing is that much of the earlier chapters are backed by reasonable amounts of d
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Having some marketing experience and work for advertising, this book is somewhat an eye opener. I believe this is a must read for all marketing (and related categories) people.
Lika Aprilia
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Out of date and full of obvious 'lessons' that make you go, "Well you don't say..." ...more
Doug Garnett
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marketing
Excellent and very, very challenging. Especially humbling for marketers in its stark reminder that the consumer's primary goal in life is NOT bonding with our products. And all the things this reality leads to.

At times, the book is written with the flighty shallowness of modern business books. Sadly, it may be that the publisher feared losing readers with a deeper and more serious analysis of the variants being considered. And it might have. Sad that despite spending hundreds of millions, ad age
Rambling Reviews
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
Look. Finished. I still don't understand how distinctiveness isn't a form of differentiation. The man argues that you shouldn't get caught up in the meaning of words but I think he has a different meaning of differentiation than I do.

He's an INCREDIBLY self-important writer. So happy to sneer at what has gone before him except if it supports his views.

The book comes across as internally inconsistent. It derides case studies with no proof but then provides anecdotal case studies with no proof.
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As a marketer, I almost never enjoy marketing books: they generalize, over-simplify, and pull a lot of bullshit in order to come up with clean and easy-to-digest concepts that will sell books. Most of all, I struggle to find a connection with the actual work that's happening inside companies. I particularly dislike Kotler, which is still tauted as a marketing god in universities.

This book caught me by surprise. It takes common marketing wisdom and methodically dispels it with data. It was so re
Lisa Haggerty
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
A provocative yet outdated perspective on how brands grow. A better title might be, How Large CPG Brands Stay Large. This book was written before e-commerce and online advertising shifted how media is bought and how consumers consume media. And before disruptor, DNVB, and DTC brands exploded. I think many of the principles are solid, like even your most loyal buyers are not 100% loyal. As a read, it was repetitive and stale. It was not based on many meta-analyses, so the conclusions seem more li ...more
Robert Zymberi
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
If there wasnt second part of the book I would give it 2 stars

Proclaimed mythbusting marketing book which at some parts used very wisely chosen data to prove everything you knew about marketing was wrong.
Maarten Van den Bossche
Dec 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
It took about 8 chapters of resistance and frantically writing in the margin of the books (yes, I write in them) for me to like it. So growing towards a 4-star review is quite the performance.

For the first few pages, I was very excited as I agree with the warcry for a more scientific approach to marketing. My initial resistance came with learning that the 'law-like patterns' that the book talks about are actually just statistical effects (e.g. regression to the mean), rebranded to a marketing co
Aug 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Two words.

Great read.

In all honestly though, a couple months ago I picked it up and started to read through and only got half way through and gave up. However I recently picked it up again and was determined to get through. Let me tell you, it was totally worth it.

Sharp dispels common marketing theories that are taught at universities with data taken from years of marketing research. It's quite an intimidating book for that reason, nevertheless I found it worthwhile to push past the fear and r
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book on marketing and brand strategy I've read. Does away with a lot of marketing and branding myths, some of which are quite established, like brand loyalty, target audiences, discounts and campaign advertising. The style could be more engaging but the substance makes this textbook a revelatory read. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for data and scientific approach so I really liked this book much more than I would have ever guessed. Probably would make it a mandatory read in my company market department if we had such a thing... ...more
Daniel Šturm
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a mind changing book. If you love Philip Kotler, don't touch this. :) ...more
Ieuan Evans
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read that really brings to the forefront the drivers of brand growth. An essential read for any marketeer.
Luca Corinaldesi
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Marketer, you need to read this! Don't waste your time with Kotler. ...more
Feb 12, 2022 rated it did not like it
My first exposure to Sharp's work came from a series of white papers forwarded to me from some colleagues I respect very much. In the white papers, he talks about his marketing laws, such as the Law of Double Jeopardy. This was my first red flag; setting aside the legal definition of a law, the scientific definition of a law has a mathematical formula and has yet to be proven wrong, such as the Law of Gravity. With this definition in mind, to my knowledge, nothing in marketing has ever reached o ...more
Jul 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for marketers...but we all knew that.
Marcell Nimführ
Jun 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marketing
Finally! When I thought there is no book about evidenced based marketing out there. Once you are hooked on marketing know how that is based or validated in research, it becomes hard to read anything but. How Brands Grow is written with the research mostly from the 1990ies and 2000s, it therefore doesn't include digital marketing. However, there are so many valuable myth busts that work in any field. Traditional or digital marketing, it is always about selling a product and humans don't become sp ...more
Scott Macdonald
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
I don't really like to use words such as 'important' or 'refreshing' when reviewing a book but in this case I have to make an exception. This *is* an important and refreshing book.

The amount of waffle spouted by "industry experts" without any empirical evidence to support their views is astounding and this one well written, evidence based book re-writes a lot of those assumed rules of advertising/branding in a couple of hundred pages.

Based on other reviews, I was worried about this being a dry
Rob Schmults
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Some good lessons and good reminders. And while this book written before more recent advances in targeting buyer intent, intent based marketing arguably supports the core points about mental and physical availability, especially if you view it as the final collapsing of the space between marketing and selling. Unfortunately the book buries the lead (spends too long building up to the points vs making them) which really detracts from readability. And while does a decent job with data on what not ...more
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
If you are a brand manager for a CPG or work with the marketing team for a CPG company, then I strongly recommend reading this book. I work in the tech industry, so many of the topics are directly applicable. However, there are still plenty of take-aways. And just as the book summary promises, it will challenge many of the deeply held beliefs about marketing a brand and product.
Maciej Zyto
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marketing
Forget Kotlerian marketing. Believe in Byron Sharp's marketing.
The book questions marketing myths and provides evidence- based marketing like-laws.
Speaks about marketing science, not imagination and assumptions we took so far as truth.
I strongly recommed this book. It will not come easy, but is very rewarding.
Yevhen Nesin
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book about "new marketing". The author shows main Kotler's mistakes-exaggerations and emphasize on several main sales drivers which are physical and mental availability. To add more, Sharp claims there is no loyalty and differentiation and, you know, I believe him. ...more
Bryce Johnson
Read this for work. Dry, but certainly the most insightful business book I've read to this point. I feel smarter. I'm glad I liked it, or I would've had a tough time telling everyone at work that I didn't. ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Meh. .
Tobias Liebsch
Mar 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Doesn't age well. The author's claims don't translate to the digital age where you can actually back up and measure your impact by numbers. ...more
Jason Kim
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a good introductory book on understanding what marketers should do to grow a competitive brand.

The author establishes marketing laws.

Double jeopardy law: Brands with less market share have far fewer buyers, and these buyers are slightly less loyal (in their buying and attitudes). For implications see Chapter 2.
•Retention double jeopardy: All brands lose some buyers; this loss is proportionate to their market share (i.e. big brands lose more customers; though these represent a smaller pr
Dániel Kállai
Sep 21, 2022 rated it did not like it
I have never read such a useless book on marketing ever. This was clearly the worst marketing book of my life. I am on the point that i feel like i am going to throw it out of the window. I have never read such a self-important and arrogant author who tries to justify everything he says by mocking every other marketing principles that was established before him and those who created them. (e.g. Kotler) Long story short: Everyone is wrong and dumb in and about marketing, except him, the magnifice ...more
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Byron Sharp is Professor of Marketing Science, and Director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia.

His research is supported corporations around the world including Coca-Cola, Mars, Kraft, Nielsen, British Airways, CBS, ESPN, Kellogg's and many others.

Dr Sharp has published over 100 academic papers and is on the editorial boards of four journals.

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