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How To Create Category Awareness

Friday, February 09, 2024

How To Create Category Awareness

Category awareness refers to how familiar your target audience is with the particular product or service category your business operates in.

For emerging or novel categories – such as smart home devices, Airbnbs, and plant-based meat alternatives – category awareness may be low.

On the flip side, mature categories like smartphones and breakfast cereals, tend to enjoy high awareness as household names.

In business, increasing category awareness is crucial because customers won't seek out solutions if they don't know your category exists.

People can't desire what they don't know about. That's why category creation and promotion should be priorities in your overall marketing strategy, especially for new or obscure categories.

People didn’t instantly understand why they would need Siri or Alexa connected to everything in their homes before Apple and Google showcased how convenient it would be if you could control everything without even lifting a finger.

And if people are aware that they need your category, then you can start refining your marketing efforts to target them.

This article will explore proven ways brands can effectively build category awareness and establish their position as top-of-mind category leaders.

Educate Consumers On The Category

Educate Consumers On The Category

The first step is focused education about what your category is, typical use cases, underlying consumer needs it fulfills, and framing the value proposition. Your marketing should answer: What is this category and why does it matter to consumers?

For example, when laptops first emerged, brands had to explain how they differed from desktops as well as highlight the mobility benefits. Today, consumer tech categories like wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers) or the Internet of Things are still working to educate mainstream consumers on the very idea of the category.

Your brand should stake an early claim as a thought leader providing category education through:

Blog Content

One of the most effective ways to educate consumers on a new or unfamiliar category is through in-depth blog content.

Dedicate a series of blog posts to telling the origin story of the category - how, when, and why did it emerge?

Explain key events, innovations, and pioneers that contributed to its development. This narrative helps audiences understand what needs the category serves and how it has evolved over time.

Other blog articles can outline the current landscape - who are your key players, what are the different segments, and what does the competitive environment look like? This overview frames the category in consumers' minds.

Finally, focus some articles on real-world applications and use cases.

For example, an article called "5 Ways Drones Are Revolutionizing Photography" demonstrates specific utility. Vividly conveying what is possible expands the category's perceived value.

Leverage your blog as a hub providing rich context about category background, scope, and potential. This content foundation educates audiences and sparks further interest.

Social Media

You can post short little facts and eye-catching pictures that tell folks about your category in a simple, bite-sized way. Don't just barrage them with a long-winded speech they won't read. Grab their attention with some quick statistics on a post or Instagram Story. Use colorful charts to show them how your product compares. Craft a short TikTok video explaining your category that they can watch on the go.

The key is to keep it short, visual, and interesting. Appeal to modern sensibilities for constant entertainment. They want to learn without even realizing they're learning. Don't underestimate the power of these platforms, even if they seem frivolous. Use their unique formats to your advantage when introducing your product category. Your business just may benefit from it tremendously.


Showcase Your Videos

Short, engaging demo videos can vividly showcase the consumer value of an unfamiliar category.

Think of a brand in an emerging fitness tech category. That brand can produce a YouTube series of "day in the life" videos following different archetypes using the product.

See how busy moms, ambitious professionals, or active seniors incorporate the technology into their regular routines and benefits.

Beyond structured demos, compiling user-generated video content is powerful. Curate and re-share customers' own videos demonstrating how they uniquely use and enjoy the product in real-world scenarios.

This organic advocacy expands perceived category versatility.

A video is especially impactful because it makes benefits tangible rather than just described.

Viewers can see the technology in action, sparking aha moments. Crisp visuals, snappy editing, and clear narration distill benefits in easily digestible ways. Videos can be embedded in blogs, shared socially, used in ads, and repurposed into other formats.

Keep demos concise and focused on highlighting the "before and after" to maximize category education.

Media Relations

Getting press attention is tricky, but it can do wonders if pulled off right.

Identify reporters and journalists writing for trade publications or major media outlets that cover topics related to your newfangled product category. Think industry rags, technology blogs, business shows - whoever your prospective customers pay attention to.

Then get your bigwig executives, inventors, and lead scientists prepped with some presentations on the category. Have them ready to speak intelligently on the history, technology, marketplace, and consumer benefits so they come across as true experts.

Next, reach out and pitch these media folks to have your executives interviewed and quoted in stories positioning them as authoritative voices on this burgeoning category. But make sure it's about education, not self-promotion.

Reporters will sniff out bald PR moves from a mile away.

The focus is on your execs spreading category knowledge and insights through savvy media relations. Get your category and brand name sprinkled throughout coverage as trusted sources. That's how you make waves and get people talking.

The goal is crafting campaigns that leave audiences saying "I never knew this category existed, but I'm interested to learn more." Curiosity and awareness come first.

Highlight Underserved Needs

Next, demonstrate how your category addresses real consumer needs that are unmet or underserved by current solutions. This framing taps into the demand for better ways of fulfilling jobs to be done.

Maybe your product offers advantages of speed, cost, convenience, customization, or experience over incumbent options. Or perhaps it fulfills emerging consumer expectations as technology progresses and behaviors evolve.

For example, ridesharing services effectively conveyed how they better met urban consumers' needs for flexible, convenient transport compared to traditional taxis. Their marketing tapped into unsatisfied demand.

Consumer Research

Uncover pain points, which are the specific challenges or frustrations that your customers face, should be your primary goal in consumer research.

Tailoring survey questions and focus group discussions with precision is crucial to gather information directly related to these pain points. Crafting inquiries that address issues such as product usability, customer service experiences, or pricing concerns ensures a targeted approach to identifying challenges.

Consumer research is not a one-time effort but an iterative process.

As you address identified pain points and implement changes, continuous feedback through surveys and focus groups becomes imperative.

This ongoing engagement allows businesses to stay attuned to evolving consumer needs and maintain a proactive stance in addressing challenges.

Comparison Charts

Comparison charts are a valuable tool for consumers and businesses alike, providing a concise and visual means of showcasing the limitations of existing options side-by-side.

By presenting information in a structured format, these charts facilitate an easy comparison of various products, services, or solutions.

This aids individuals in making informed decisions based on a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each option.

Structured comparisons within these charts are particularly effective in highlighting the limitations of existing choices.

For example, if a consumer is trying to choose between two different smartphone brands, a comparison chart can outline features, pricing, and performance metrics in a format that allows for a quick assessment of drawbacks.

This visual representation simplifies the decision-making process by clearly delineating the areas where each option may fall short.

Targeted PR

Identifying consumer frustrations covered in the media provides a unique opportunity for targeted PR efforts.

Newsjacking allows a brand to position itself as a solution or a voice of understanding in response to the highlighted issues.

By incorporating your brand's perspective into ongoing conversations in the media, businesses can actively engage with the audience and demonstrate a commitment to addressing the concerns that matter to consumers.

One of the key advantages of targeted PR through newsjacking is the ability to ride the wave of existing public sentiment. When consumer frustrations are making headlines, you can seize the moment to align your messaging with the prevailing sentiment, creating a timely and resonant connection with your target audience.

Moreover, by participating in the media conversation around consumer frustrations, your business can be established as thought leaders in the industry.

Offering insights, solutions, or even a fresh perspective on the issues at hand helps in building credibility and authority. This, in turn, can contribute to enhanced brand reputation and increased trust among consumers.

This not only increases the visibility of your brand but also positions it as responsive and empathetic to consumer needs.


One of the most powerful tools in marketing is testimonials. These are real customer stories that convey the genuine experience and desires of individuals looking for better solutions.

When incorporating testimonials into your brand’s messaging, they become compelling narratives that may resonate with potential customers on a deep, personal level.

Real customer stories provide a human touch to your brand’s marketing efforts.

These testimonials often communicate the frustrations or challenges of these customers, who are then met with existing solutions via your business. It creates a relatable narrative that captures the attention and empathy of potential buyers.

Moreover, testimonials serve as social proof, reinforcing the credibility of your USP. When prospects see others who have faced similar issues and found better solutions with your business in question, it instills confidence. The relatability of real customer stories helps in building trust.

You can actively seek out testimonials from satisfied customers by encouraging feedback, conducting surveys, or even implementing dedicated review platforms.

Timely and genuine testimonials contribute to the ongoing narrative of your brand's commitment to customer satisfaction.

Additionally, by showcasing a diverse range of testimonials, your business can address the varied needs and preferences of your target audience, broadening the appeal of your solutions.

Social Listening

The first step in leveraging social listening is to establish a robust monitoring system.

By employing advanced social media monitoring tools, you can track relevant keywords, hashtags, brand mentions, and industry-specific terms. This comprehensive approach ensures that your business captures a wide range of conversations, providing a holistic view of consumer problems and sentiments.

Furthermore, social listening serves as a proactive customer service tool.

You can respond in real-time to customer complaints, feedback, or inquiries, showcasing their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Timely responses not only demonstrate attentiveness but also allow you or your team to address and resolve issues before they escalate, fostering positive customer experiences.

The broad goal is framing your category as the modern solution to consumer problems of the past. You want audiences thinking "I didn't realize how much I needed this."

Innovate Within The Category

Driving a category forward often rests on innovation by leading brands. Pushing boundaries through new use cases, features, and possibilities.

Brands like Apple, Dyson, Tesla, and GoPro all took fledgling categories to new heights by continuously improving the consumer experience.

These brands not only elevate their products but also elevate the entire category by enhancing the overall consumer experience. This strategy transforms fledgling categories into thriving markets and sets the stage for continuous evolution.

​Innovation, as a catalyst for category growth, is fueled by the identification of white space opportunities. Consumer research is a key driver, helping companies uncover unarticulated needs that may not be immediately apparent.

By engaging in comprehensive consumer research, you can gain insights into the unmet desires and preferences of their target audience, paving the way for innovative solutions that address latent needs.

Competitive analysis is another crucial aspect of identifying white space opportunities. By assessing competitor offerings, businesses can pinpoint gaps in the market.

Understanding what competitors may be overlooking or areas where their products fall short allows innovative brands to step in with unique propositions that resonate with consumers seeking more comprehensive solutions.

Innovate Within The Category

A/B testing and concept testing are two other essential tools for optimizing innovation. A/B testing involves experimenting with different versions of a product or feature to optimize conversion funnels based on user behavior.

Concept testing, on the other hand, validates ideas through focus groups, ensuring that new features or products align with consumer expectations and preferences before full-scale implementation.

Lastly, analyzing data can be pivotal for identifying problems and friction points in existing offerings. By scrutinizing user feedback and complaints, your business can pinpoint areas that require improvement or further innovation.

This iterative process of refining products contributes to the continuous enhancement of the consumer experience. And the more your brand can advance and expand your category, the more top-of-mind it becomes. Innovation raises the bar.

Key Takeaways For Building Category Awareness

Building category awareness is a multifaceted endeavor, and the key takeaways I’ll outline will provide a comprehensive guide for brands aiming to establish a strong presence in the consumer and cultural psyche.

Firstly, educating audiences about the category and the value it delivers is foundational. Your brand should articulate what defines the category, its unique selling points, and how it addresses consumer needs.

By using this educational approach you ensure that potential customers will both understand the category and recognize its significance in enhancing their lives.

Key Takeaways For Building Category Awareness

Highlighting underserved consumer needs better fulfilled by the category is a strategic move. If you can pinpoint the gaps in the market and demonstrate how the category addresses unmet needs, you will have the opportunity to position your business as a valuable solution.

This approach creates a compelling narrative that resonates with consumers, encouraging them to consider the category as an essential part of their lives.

Forge contextual associations between the category and relevant situations to enhance relatability.

When consumers can connect the category to specific contexts in their lives, it becomes more memorable and integral to their daily experiences. Common association fosters a deeper understanding of the category's relevance and encourages consumer engagement.

Addressing misconceptions through marketing is crucial for establishing a positive perception.

By proactively dispelling myths or misunderstandings surrounding the category, you can shape a more accurate narrative. Not only does it clarify the value proposition, but also ensures that consumers have a clear and positive perception of the category.

Consistently tracking category trends, mentions, and changes is essential for staying ahead in the dynamic market landscape.

Employ robust monitoring strategies to keep abreast of emerging trends, consumer conversations, and shifts in perception. This ongoing vigilance enables timely adjustments to marketing strategies and ensures relevance in the evolving marketplace.

Driving innovation that expands the category's possibilities is a proactive approach to maintaining leadership. If you want your brand to stick, you need to continuously explore new features, use cases, and applications within the category.

Innovations not only attract attention but also showcase the brand's commitment to pushing boundaries and providing cutting-edge solutions.

Lastly, integrating the brand into pop culture and consumer lifestyles enhances visibility and connection. When a brand becomes intertwined with cultural trends and everyday life, it cements its position in the hearts and minds of consumers.

Whether through collaborations, sponsorships, or strategic marketing, aligning with pop culture helps the brand become synonymous with the category.

By taking leadership in category creation, smart brands can firmly establish themselves in the consumer and cultural psyche.

Committing to ongoing category management ensures your positioning remains strong. When consumers think of their category needs, they should instinctively think of your brand.

Last Remarks

Taking leadership in category creation requires a strategic and continuous effort. While great marketing has the power to take abstract product concepts and transform them into widely recognized and valued categories – category creation requires long-term vision and strategic efforts.

You need to take a very active role in educating audiences, highlighting utility, building associations, staying ahead of the curve, and embedding your brand within a culture. Do all this, and you will have the ability to ascend from an unknown niche to a leading category icon.

​If you want to delve even deeper into the concept of category awareness — or even meet a couple entrepreneurs who’ve managed to achieve this — I highly recommend you join us at Diamond, where you’ll gain access to all of my high-value masterclasses, weekly seminars, and our own private Facebook group for networking and learning.

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