mindshare (share of mind)

What is mindshare (share of mind)?

Mindshare, also known as share of mind, is an approach to marketing that involves attempting to make a company, brand or product the first one that comes to mind when a customer thinks of a particular market.

In the rapidly evolving world of technology and business, one of the most potent tools a brand can use to distinguish itself from the crowd is mindshare.

This elusive yet critical concept is what brands aim to achieve when they want to be the first thing consumers think of in their particular industry or sector. For instance, consider what brand springs to mind when one thinks of smartphones or of electric cars. The brand that one immediately thinks of has effectively captured the mindshare of that market.

Mindshare goes beyond simple brand recognition; it delves into the deep-seated preferences and biases of consumers that dictate their purchase decisions and brand loyalty.

Historical context of mindshare

The concept of mindshare, while seemingly a product of modern marketing terminology, has roots extending back into the 20th century. It is closely intertwined with the rise of mass media and the expansion of advertising methods and channels.

In the early stages of marketing, most brands focused primarily on pushing out their message to consumers via one-way channels like newspapers, billboards and radio broadcasts. The advent of television brought about the Golden Age of Advertising in the 1950s and 1960s, and marketers began to recognize the power of repeated exposure and catchy slogans in imprinting a brand in consumers' minds.

The term mindshare, however, did not become popular until the late 1980s and 1990s with the rise of digital technology and the internet. As more businesses and industries realized the vastness of the digital landscape, competition for attention heightened. It became apparent that capturing consumers' mindshare was critical in an increasingly saturated market.

The dramatic increase in the use of social media in the early 21st century further emphasized the need for strong mindshare. With consumers being bombarded with countless ads and messages every day, brands had to find creative ways to stand out and stick in consumers' minds.

Moreover, as the market moved from a product-centric approach to a more consumer-centric one, brands started focusing on building deeper emotional connections with their consumers, realizing that mindshare goes beyond mere recognition -- it involves being the preferred choice.

In the digital age, where consumers have a world of choices at their fingertips, mindshare has taken on even greater importance. With newer technologies like artificial intelligence and big data, brands are now able to understand and target their audiences more effectively, refining their strategies to capture and retain the largest share of the consumer's mind.

Diagram of eight big benefits of big data to business.
Technology like big data enables brands to better target their audiences to capture and retain mindshare.

Factors influencing mindshare

The concept of mindshare doesn't exist in a vacuum; it is shaped and influenced by a multitude of factors that vary from brand to brand and consumer to consumer. Some key factors that significantly influence a brand's mindshare include the following:

Quality of product or quality of service. This is arguably the most critical factor. A brand offering a superior product or service will naturally gain a larger share of mind among consumers. This quality not only pertains to the actual product or service but also extends to after-sales service, customer support and overall user experience.

Branding and marketing efforts. The visibility of a brand plays a major role in capturing mindshare. This includes both the quantity and quality of a brand's marketing efforts across various channels. Effective branding strategies help create a distinct identity for the brand, making it more memorable and increasing its share of mind.

Social proof. In the digital world, consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it has positive reviews and testimonials from other consumers. High ratings, customer testimonials and endorsements from influential personalities can significantly boost a brand's mindshare.

Innovation. Brands that regularly introduce innovative products or services, or use innovative marketing strategies, tend to capture more mindshare. Innovation helps a brand stand out in a crowded market, attracting consumer attention and interest.

Emotional connection. Brands that successfully build an emotional connection with their consumers tend to have a larger share of mind. Customer engagement can be achieved through shared values, compelling storytelling or a strong brand purpose that resonates with the consumers.

Various touchpoints of customer engagement.
Customer engagement can help increase mindshare by telling a compelling story that resonates with consumers.

Frequency of interaction. The more often consumers interact with a brand, the more likely they are to remember it. This interaction can be through product usage, advertising, social media engagement, customer support and more.

Achieving a larger share of mind is a complex task that requires a strategic blend of high-quality products or services, effective marketing, exceptional customer experience and continuous innovation, all of which should ideally culminate in a deep emotional connection with the consumers.

Measurement of mindshare

An old adage goes, "What gets measured gets managed." That applies to mindshare as well, but measuring mindshare is not as straightforward as measuring tangible business metrics like sales or revenue.

It requires the use of multiple indirect methods to gauge the extent of a brand's presence in consumers' minds. Some commonly used ways to measure mindshare include the following:

Surveys and polls. One of the most direct ways to measure mindshare is to get feedback from consumers themselves. Surveys and polls can be conducted where consumers are asked to name the first brand that comes to their mind in a specific product or service category. The brand that gets mentioned the most has the highest mindshare. This is known as unaided brand recall.

Social media analysis. The analysis of social media data is another effective way to measure mindshare. Brand owners can monitor various social media platforms to gauge how often their products are mentioned and the sentiment of those mentions. A higher number of positive mentions usually indicates higher mindshare.

Market research. Market research firms often conduct studies that measure various aspects of brand health, including mindshare. Studies could involve more in-depth surveys, interviews or focus groups that explore consumers' awareness and perceptions of different brands.

Search engine data. Search engine data can provide valuable insights into mindshare. For example, the volume of searches for a brand or its products can indicate the level of interest and awareness among consumers.

Share of voice (SOV). Share of voice is a metric that represents a brand's share of the conversation in its industry. It measures how much a brand is being talked about compared to its competitors. A higher SOV usually correlates with higher mindshare.

Net promoter score (NPS). The net promoter score measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging a customer's overall satisfaction with a company's product or service and the customer's loyalty to the brand. A high NPS score may suggest strong mindshare.

Measuring mindshare is an ongoing process that should be regularly revisited. As market dynamics, consumer behaviors and competitive landscapes shift, so too will a brand's mindshare. By continually monitoring these measures, brands can adjust their strategies to protect and grow their share of the consumer's mind.

Diagram outlining AI technologies for customer insights.
AI technologies can use customer data to gain insight into emotions, buyer behavior, identities and more, which businesses can use to help increase their mindshare.

Mindshare vs. market share

Measure mindshare alone is a critical factor, but it's also essential to explore its relationship with another significant business metric: market share. Though they might sound similar, they refer to different aspects of a brand's success.

Mindshare and market share are two key metrics that help businesses gauge their performance relative to their competitors. However, they measure distinct aspects of a brand's market presence and influence.

Mindshare refers to the measure of consumer awareness of a brand or its products. It reflects the mental real estate a brand occupies in a consumer's mind. A brand with high mindshare is typically the first one that comes to a consumer's mind when thinking about a specific product category.

Market share is a tangible business metric that measures a company's sales in relation to the total sales in its industry. A company with a high market share sells more of its products or services than any of its competitors do. Market share provides a quantitative understanding of a company's dominance in the market.

While they measure different aspects, mindshare and market share are often closely connected. Brands with high mindshare tend to have larger market share as consumers are more likely to purchase from brands they recognize and trust.

However, it's possible for a brand to have high mindshare (due to strong branding and marketing efforts), but a low market share if its products or services do not meet consumers' expectations or are priced too high.

Similarly, a company might have a high market share due to competitive pricing or a wide distribution network, but lower mindshare if its marketing efforts are insufficient or ineffective. In an ideal scenario, brands should aim for a balance, focusing on increasing both mindshare and market share for sustainable success.

Prominent examples of mindshare in the real world

Understanding the concept of mindshare and its relationship with market share becomes more tangible when we examine real-world examples. These case studies of brands show how they have successfully captured a significant share of mind and how that influenced their market share.


Apple Inc. serves as a classic example of a company that has managed to capture a significant share of mind in the technology sector. When consumers think about innovative, high-quality smartphones or laptops, Apple is usually one of the first brands that come to mind.

Through a combination of cutting-edge product design, highly effective marketing strategies and a relentless focus on customer experience, Apple has created a strong mindshare among consumers worldwide.

This strong mindshare has translated into a large market share as well. As of the end of 2022, Apple held approximately 19% of the global smartphone market. Despite not having the largest market share, Apple consistently leads the industry in terms of profitability, largely thanks to the premium brand image it has cultivated.

Photograph of assorted Apple products.
Apple is an example of a company that has been able to translate significant mindshare in the technology sector into a large market.


Tesla offers an interesting case study where mindshare and market share don't align neatly. Tesla, under the leadership of Elon Musk, has dominated the mindshare when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs). Its focus on innovation, high-performance vehicles and Musk's own personal brand have contributed to Tesla often being the first brand consumers think of when it comes to EVs.

However, in terms of global market share, Tesla's position isn't as dominant. As of Q2 2023, Tesla held around 20% of the global EV market share. It's worth noting, though, that Tesla's strong mindshare has helped it maintain a leading position in the market despite increasing competition.

These case studies underline how mindshare can influence market share. However, as seen in the case of Tesla, a high mindshare does not always guarantee a corresponding high market share. Both metrics are vital for a brand's success and should be cultivated concurrently. In the next section, we will explore some of the criticisms and limitations of the concept of mindshare.

Criticism and limitations of mindshare

While the concept of mindshare offers valuable insights into a brand's position in consumers' minds, it is not without its criticisms and limitations. Understanding those perceived shortcomings can provide a more balanced perspective and help in applying the concept more effectively.

  • Difficulty in measurement. Accurately measuring mindshare is challenging due to its intangible nature. It relies on indirect metrics like surveys, social media mentions and search engine data, all of which have their own limitations and potential for bias. Additionally, measuring mindshare on a global scale can be particularly challenging due to cultural differences and varying brand perceptions.
  • Not always linked to sales. A high mindshare doesn't necessarily translate to high sales or market share. A brand may be top of mind for consumers, but if its products or services are priced too high, or if they do not meet consumers' needs or expectations, mindshare may not lead to purchases.
  • Neglect of other important factors. Focusing too much on mindshare may cause a brand to overlook other critical aspects of its business, such as product quality, customer service and competitive pricing. A comprehensive approach to marketing and business strategy should consider these and other aspects alongside mindshare.
  • Short-term vs. long-term impact. Some critics argue that mindshare is more about creating immediate recognition rather than long-term customer loyalty. A catchy ad campaign might temporarily boost a brand's mindshare, but without ongoing efforts to maintain quality and engage customers, the increase in mindshare may not last.
  • Potential for negative mindshare. Mindshare can be negative as well as positive. A brand might be prominent in consumers' minds for the wrong reasons, such as a public scandal or a product failure. Brands must therefore strive not just for high mindshare, but for positive mindshare.

Despite the criticisms and limitations, the concept of mindshare remains a valuable tool for businesses to gauge their position in the market and the effectiveness of their branding and marketing strategies.

When combined with other metrics like market share and customer satisfaction, and when applied thoughtfully, mindshare can contribute to a comprehensive understanding of a brand's performance and influence.

See why businesses should prioritize customer retention and explore 7 benefits of customer experience management.

This was last updated in September 2023

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