In an article recently published in Journal of Advertising (access it here, or email me for free copy), a colleague and I update an important but understudied model for promotion and media planning. The Foote, Cone, and Belding (FCB) grid was developed to help advertising practitioners think strategically and situationally about the way consumers make purchase decisions. Here is the original grid:
It was a prominent theoretical perspective for scholars in the 1980s but has been neglected in recent years. Moreover, what little research does exist on the FCB grid seems to misunderstand one of its primary tenets: that its axes of thinking, feeling, and involvement do not label the products themselves but the way consumers think about purchasing these products. This oversight is unfortunate, because the situational thinking that the grid stimulates is ideal for a world where media channels are increasingly digital and social. In this article, we outline the FCB grid’s original propositions as a strategic tool and discuss some of ways it has been misinterpreted along the way. We then explicate its potential for practitioners and scholars in the contemporary media environment and propose our own grid of appropriate channels for each quadrant:
Usually, my work is more empirical, testing theory through experimental surveys, but this was a conceptual article. It was fun to work on, and I enjoyed learning about the FCB grid from my co-author Eric Haley.