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Mind share relates generally to the development of consumer awareness or popularity, and is one of the main objectives of advertising and promotion. When people think of examples of a product type or category, they usually think of a limited number of brand names. The aim of mind share is to establish a brand as being one of the best kinds of a given product or service, and to even have the brand name become a synonym for the product or service offered. For example, a prospective buyer of a college education will have several thousand colleges to choose from. However, the evoked set, or set of schools considered, will probably be limited to about ten. Of these ten, the colleges that the buyer is most familiar with will receive the greatest attention.
Marketers and promoters of mind share try to maximize the popularity of their product, so that the brand co-exists with deeper, more empirical categories of objects. Kleenex, for example, can distinguish itself as a type of tissue. But, because it has gained popularity amongst consumers, it is frequently used as a term to identify any tissue, even if it is from a competing brand.
One of the most successful firms to have achieved pervasive mind share is Hoover, whose name has been synonymous with vacuum cleaner in the UK for many decades. Similarly, the term "googling", describing the act of online searching, was derived from the Internet search engine Google; however, since Google remains the world's most popular search engine, it remains to be seen if the term will become generic for all searches.
Popularity can be established to a greater or lesser degree depending on product and market. For example, in the Southern U.S. it is common to hear people refer to any cola-flavored soft drink as a "coke", regardless of whether it is actually produced by Coca-Cola or not.
A legal risk of such popularity is that the name may become so widely accepted that it becomes a generic term and loses trademark protection. Examples include "escalator", "panadol", "chapstick", "tupperware", and "bandaid".
- Madden, Charles S. "Marketers Battle for Mind Share," Baylor Business Review Vol. 9 (Spring, 1991). 8–10.