Primary and selective demand advertising entails adjusting your tactics to either increase the demand for a certain product category or increase demand for a brand within a certain product category.

But how are they adjusted? When should you use which one? And why not just always use selective demand advertising?

Scroll on as media update's Joreke Kleynhans explains the fundamentals of primary and selective demand advertising, and when to use which.

What is Primary Demand Advertising?

Primary demand advertising is promoting any product or category in general.

The main objective of this type of advertising is to educate consumers on the existence and benefits of new products or to draw newfound attention to existing product categories.

It is usually opted for by brands that have products within the earlier stages of a product life cycle, but it has also been successfully used in various campaigns to revive the popularity of a product.

Because the technological world is growing rapidly, tech companies often benefit from educating consumers with primary demand advertising before reaching for selective demand advertising.

Primary demand advertising is also most commonly funded by a group or union of organisations in a shared industry instead of being funded by a single brand.

Primary demand advertising can allow market shareholders to reap the following benefits:

  • overall market expansion
  • larger product awareness or interest, and
  • a more informed customer base.


What is Selective Demand Advertising?

Selective demand advertising is promoting a specific brand of an existing product or product category.

It aims to position a brand in a positive light compared to others and create a desire for what that specific brand has to offer. Unlike primary demand advertising, its purpose is to expand one brand's share of the market, not the market as a whole.

This type of advertising is used by brands that are competing with others in an already established market and is used to persuade consumers to buy their product over another brand's.

For example, the car rental brand Avis ran a campaign to level the playing field between its brand and competitor Hertz with the comparative slogan “We Try Harder.”

Selective demand advertising is funded and owned by the brand that is campaigning with it. Because of this, it receives the full ROI for the initiative.

Selective demand advertising provides the following benefits:

  • expanded market share
  • heightened customer loyalty, and
  • increased sales and revenue.


When to Use Which Type of Advertising

After a cost-benefit analysis of primary and selective demand advertising, it feels like the next step should be choosing the one you want to use for your brand.

That, however, couldn't be further from the truth. The choice between primary and selective demand advertising is made based on what you need to do for your brand.

Let's put this in plain and simple text: If nobody knows that your new invention — a robotic laundry folder, for example — exists, or that they need one, listing the benefits of using your laundry robot over another brand's will mean next to nothing to them.

This scenario requires the informative nature of primary demand ads.

But if everyone already wants a robotic laundry folder, you don't need to tell them, "Get a laundry robot!" Instead, you'll be saying, "Get our version of the laundry robot!"

This scenario requires the persuasive nature of selective demand ads.

Primary demand advertising is most effective when used before or soon after a product launches. It is otherwise effective when the business is trying to target a new demographic or needs to spur growth after the market has declined or stagnated.

It tends to produce the highest ROI when a product is brand new, and consumers need to be educated on it before they can be persuaded to spend their money on it.

Selective demand advertising should be used when a brand is a newbie in their market or wants to grow its existing market share. Unlike primary demand ads, selective demand ads are ongoing, and most brands never really stop using this tactic.

To make things even more basic: When an entire industry needs a little push, primary demand advertising gets its time to shine. When a particular brand is falling behind, selective demand advertising is your girl.


Did you enjoy this article? Let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Are you on the fence about your content marketing tactics? Read our article, Short-form versus long-form content for marketing — in 300 words or less for some content marketing insights!

*Image courtesy of Canva.