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What Does "Top of Mind Awareness" Mean?

Jim B.
By Jim B.
Updated May 17, 2024
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"Top of mind awareness" is a marketing concept focused on the theory that consumers will buy products based on awareness of a certain company. As a result, marketers must do everything in their power to place their companies inside the minds of consumers to affect purchasing decisions. Achieving "top of mind awareness," or TOMA, requires consistent communication efforts by companies through various marketing channels. This also necessitates that these companies provide the consumers with relevant information to help the decision-making process without becoming nuisances.

It is extremely difficult for companies to stand out in the modern marketplace. Not only are there seemingly limitless companies to be found in each and every industry, but there is also a vast variety of marketing avenues from which companies can choose to get in contact with their customer bases. While all of this can be overwhelming, a company that manages to make an impression once on a customer is likely to stay in the picture for that customer whenever purchasing decisions are made. That is the key concept behind "top of mind awareness."

When attempting to get through to consumers and achieve "top of mind awareness," marketers must essentially carve out space in the brains of their consumers. To do this, they must understand that the decision-making process for purchases is rarely instantaneous. Consumers often take their time to make their decisions. Marketers must be ready to provide useful information about what their companies have to offer at every step of that process.

To make certain that "top of mind awareness" is cultivated, marketers must stay in constant contact with consumers without becoming pests. This requires changing up strategies at different times in the decision-making process. For example, a marketer might choose different paths to the customer base by following up a television advertising campaign with an e-mail blast. Another way to achieve diversity is to put across a different message each time an effort is made to engage consumers, so that the communication doesn't become stale.

Branding is another important concept in "top of mind awareness." If a consumer has to make a decision between many possible alternative, he or she will most likely fall back on a brand name that is well-known and trusted. Marketers are aware of this fact and concentrate on achieving consistent brand messaging no matter what the current marketing campaign might be. In that way, consumers are often reminded about the company and always have that company right inside their heads when it comes time to make a choice.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Euroxati — On Oct 31, 2014

In terms of consumers, marketing and advertising, the second paragraph really sticks out to me the most, especially when it directly discusses where the term "top of mind awareness" comes from. Whether one is dealing with a marketer or not, it's very true that first impressions are lasting impressions, something the advertisers always need to consider when advertising or marketing.

As human beings, we're always very quick to judge, and in the case of buying products, that's certainly no exception. For example, even though McDonald's isn't quality food, why do you think the commercials advertise it with really bright colors and delicate looking ingredients?

Because they want to leave a lasting impression on the viewer, hence the phrase and concept "top of mind awareness". On a final note, have you ever seen some products that didn't sell so well in the market because the advertisements were poor, or there was barely even any advertising to begin with? The poor marketing and advertising certainly left a lasting impression on those who were watching, and they tuned it out.

By RoyalSpyder — On Oct 30, 2014

@Krunchyman - I definitely agree with you. Also, I feel that while some marketing strategies can be clever and beneficial, others can be deceitful, and maybe even a bit harmful. For example, one time I was at the grocery store, and I decided to buy a pack of bread that was on sale.

Later when I got home, I realized that the bread was very stale, and even a bit moldy. Apparently, some store owners try to put the worst items on sale, so that they won't interfere with the quality products. While I'll admit that it's a very clever tactic, it's very deceitful as well.

By Krunchyman — On Oct 29, 2014

This article does a very good job at digging into the minds of consumers, while also showing how companies work as well. The funny thing about consumers buying products is sometimes, even when they believe they're not being deceived, the truth is that they are.

It's just that the companies use such complex strategies, that unless you were to go inside the mind of a marketer, you wouldn't be aware of this. For example, have you ever been to a store, and even though you had the intention of only buying a few items, you exit the store with 10 items?

It's something we've all experienced (myself included), and it really shows many of the clever marketing strategies that are used. Grocery stores are packed to the brim with an endless amount of products, and they're designed in a way where's it's nearly impossible for you to buy one single item.

Using an example, every time I go out to WalGreens, I end up buying a pack of candy, and not even because that was my intention in the first place. See what I mean?

By Hazali — On Oct 28, 2014

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