There is a simple and profound marketing tool that most Brand Managers overlook. If a Brand Manager misses this fault in their packaging design or branding, the costs can be expensive and stressful. 

For your product pack/sales presentation to be successful, it must stir your audiences feelings and captivate their intellect. Knowing what your target audience knows and where they fall on the Nescience Loop© tells you what your functional messaging and emotion-stirring leavers that need to be pulled. It all starts with consumers tastes evolving.

How Consumers Tastes are Evolving

Thanks to the age of the internet, consumers now have access to large amounts of information allowing them to become more educated with their choices, interests and tastes.

They can resist the same, old marketing tactics and claims most companies are trying to make. So, as a brand and packaging design agency, we realised that if we want to keep our consumers interested and buying, we need to evolve too. This lead us to ask this question…

What Decision are They Facing?

How consumers buy anything depends on the type of decision they are facing. Making a purchase decision is hard. There is a lot of information a consumer has to take, filter, and consider before making even minor purchase decisions.

In fact, from studies and our own experience, when it comes to more involved purchase decisions, consumers will invest more time and effort to make a decision — sometimes taking days, weeks, and months.

However, once consumers have made a purchase decision they like, they will typically go back to that same brand they know and trust. When consumers are in this “re-purchasing” phase, they will give the decision far less thought and will skip some of the purchase decision steps to buy that brand.

What are you underestimating in your marketing?

One of our Jam&Co’s core belief is, “We should never underestimate the task of captivating a target customer. We must move them emotionally and intellectually, so they see and pick our product off a shelf of competitors.”

In your marketing efforts, you must deliver on your results with your product pack and your product messaging (above and below the line). For example, an “immature pack message” is one of the underestimated reasons that Brand Managers don’t achieve the on-shelf sales they’re working hard for.

Your marketing message must speak to your target customers, and it must meet them in the “Nescience Loop©”.

Knowing what your target audience knows


The Nescience Loop© is the unconscious buying framework that consumers go through when they are shopping. This framework allows brand managers to identify what level of sophistication their target consumers are in, so they can ensure the product pack (on the shelf) is aligned with the consumer’s needs.

This is a strategic marketing design tool we specifically developed for Jam&Co. It assists our branding and packaging designers to dive into the minds and emotions of the target consumer. With this tool, our packaging designs are strategically focused and targeting the emotional and functional needs of the target market.

The Nescience Loop© framework can help brand managers and marketers “know what their target audience knows.”


Knowing What Your Target Audience Knows


Eugene Schwartz, famous author of Breakthrough Advertising and legendary copywriter, said,

“Knowing what your prospects know in advance of a sales pitch is just as important as knowing who he/she is or what he/she wants.”

The Nescience Loop© is not a consumer decision making process. It’s a consumer awareness framework that tells us what it is the consumer already knows about what they want.

Knowing where the consumer is sitting within the Nescience Loop© can save brand managers and marketers thousands of wasted dollars targeting the wrong message, to the wrong audience, at the wrong time.

This loop guides brand managers to know where their target consumer is, and what the most compelling messages will be to appeal directly to them in their current buying state.

It’s the difference between using a shotgun approach versus becoming a sharp-shooting sniper.

The Value of the Nescience Loop©


Why is the Nescience Loop© so valuable as a tool for a brand manager?

To quote the late Stephen R Covey, legendary author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

For your product pack to be an on-shelf success, you must stir their feelings and captivate their intellect. Your package design must speak to the heart and the head of your target consumer.

Knowing what your target audience knows and where they fall on the Nescience Loop© is essential. It tells you what your functional messaging and emotion-stirring drivers need to be.

The more aware and knowledgeable your target consumer is about the benefits of your product, the more your “on the shelf” pitch needs to be functionally and emotionally appealing.

The less awareness the consumer has, the more your product pack needs to project itself outwards to widen it’s messaging arc and grab attention on the shelf.

How does the Nescience Loop© work?


There are 5 phases of knowledge and awareness the consumer will go through when they are purchasing a product — what they want to buy and why they want it. These phases are:

  1. The Oblivious Consumer Phase
  2. The Attention Phase
  3. The Consideration Phase
  4. The Selection Phase
  5. The Habituation/Familiarity Phase

We will go through a short summary into each phase to show you how it will help improve your package design, brand, and strategy. To tie everything together, we will share a consumer story of Betty and her buying decisions within The Nescience Loop© in Action.

The Oblivious Consumer Phase

Knowing what your audience knows


In the Oblivious Consumer phase, the consumer has zero awareness about their problem and what your product can solve. Have you ever had an experience where you didn’t even know you had a problem, and you had to solve it?

For example, one day you notice there is a wet stain on your ceiling. You call in a plumber and he tells you the upstairs bathroom tap has been leaking for months. Until you saw the wet stain, you were blissfully unaware that there was an issue. Now, you have to find the best solution to fix the leak. What do you do? Do you think about using the plumber you called (even though you think his fees are too high) or do you get other plumbers to quote a price on the repair?

This is the same for everyone. We don’t know what we don’t know, until we have to know.

In this phase, attracting the Oblivious Consumer means finding them and educating them on the basics of the problem your product solves.

Whether the consumer discovers what they don’t know from you, your competitors, or from their friends; they will remain oblivious until they know. When they know, that’s when they move to the next phase.

The Attention Phase

Knowing what your audience knows


In the Attention phase, the consumer is now aware of the problem they are facing. In this phase they are either ready to tackle the issue, or they’ll procrastinate. This all depends on the “level” of pain created by the issue — if it makes them feel stressed, experience physical pain, or if there’s a deadline, they won’t take action unless they feel “it” (their tolerance level).

A good example is taxes. For the few months prior, it will be in the back of your mind. You’ll say to yourself, “This year, I’ll be prepared.” But then, life gets in the way — project deadline, family emergency, or the “I don’t know where to start” dread; and your taxes get pushed down your to-do list.

Suddenly, tax time hits, and then it’s stress, pain, and the deadline. What happens when all three meet? You move on it like a missile on target.

Now, let’s bring this back to the consumer — until they reach their tolerance level, the need to fix or change will often remain in the back of their minds. Once it hits their threshold, they’ll move to the Consideration phase.


The Consideration Phase


Knowing what your audience knows


In the Consideration phase, the consumer has made a conscious decision to start handling the issue. This is where they start researching:

  • Asking friends, family, and coworkers
  • Taking advantage of their research assistant: Google
  • Reviewing websites, forums, and Reddit about their problem.
  • They might even post a question to strangers on Yahoo!

They gather their sources, create opinions on the matter, and confirm their beliefs. This can take the consumer a few hours, days, or weeks depending on what they are looking to solve.

Consumers want to know they are making an informed decision. They want to feel confident about what they are buying. Once they have gathered all their infor


REMEMBER: The Nescience Loop© is not a consumer decision making process. It’s a consumer awareness framework that tells us what it is the consumer already knows about what they want.

The Selection Phase

Knowing what your audience knows


The Selection Phase can be the quickest phase in the Nescience Loop©. Depending on the amount of information they have gathered and how confident they feel, they might know which product they are buying before getting into the store.

Recommendations from friends and family, a TV ad, or even just hearing it on the radio, the consumer wants to make a decision as quick as possible. They want it to be over, so they can move on to the next item on their to-do list and forget about it.

If your product is on the shelf at a supermarket, and your “aware” consumer is in your category, there are a few things they will look for:

  1. Product packaging (What is it that catches their eye?)
  2. Cost
  3. Perceived Value
  4. Other (brand, celebrity endorsements, etc)

This order can change depending on what the consumer has determined as a priority – e.g. they are on a tight budget this month, so Cost might be higher on the list.

Their decision-time, at this point, in the supermarket can range from seconds to minutes. It’s usually the former. If your packaging, cost, and perceived value aren’t there, the consumer will skip over your product for your competitors (Even if it was your marketing dollars that bought them into the store in the first place).

Once the consumer has made the decision on a product, they move to the Habituation or Familiarity phase.

The Habituation/Familiarity Phase

Knowing what your audience knows


In the Habituation/Familiarity phase, the consumer has now developed a “relationship” with the product and brand they bought. Typically they will continue to buy the same product over and over again. However, there are only two main hurdles that products must face after the purchase:

  1. Product quality
  2. Perceived Value

While there are other hurdles to consider, we’ll stick with the main two to keep it simple. If the consumer purchases your product, but the quality isn’t there (it doesn’t deliver on the experience promised to them), they will have a negative experience — making them choose a different brand or product the next time they go shopping.

If they’re left wondering whether your product was worth buying or not (perceived value), then there have two areas you need to look at: the quality of your product, and the Selection Phase of the Nescience Loop©.

Going Full Circle

If the consumers are happy with their purchases, they will keep buying — and move back into the Oblivious Consumer Phase again.

They have gone full circle around the Nescience Loop©, and will continue to go through each phase every time they purchase a product. The faster they go through it, the better – for your company, and for the consumer.

The Nescience Loop© in action


The Nescience Loop© describes the 5 phases of knowledge and awareness that consumers have about what it is and why it is they want or need what they want or need. 

Below is an example of the Nescience Loop© in action.


The first phase of knowledge and awareness is called the Oblivious Consumer.

The Oblivious Consumer Phase

Let’s say that the consumer is completely oblivious to the whole notion of “super foods”. For them superfood still means “meat and three veg”.

Therefore any pitching of your special brand of coconut oil, high in MTC would be akin to trying to attract someone’s attention by dancing stark naked in front of them with them wearing a blindfold.

Attracting the Oblivious consumer means finding them and educating them on the basics of the problem your product and others like it solves. This might be too wide a a market for you to appeal to considering your limited marketing budget.

Attention Phase

The second phase of the Nescience Loop© is Attention.

Now let’s say our Meat and Three Veg consumer is sitting in the doctors reception room. It just so happens that her eye catches the headline on an old 2011 Readers Digest cover. “How did coconut oil go from being a health hazard to becoming the darling of the natural-foods world?” So she picks up magazine to explore further. In the article which she skim reads by browsing the pictures and headlines. She discovers that coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats which boost fat burning and provide the body and brain with quick energy and reduced risk of heart disease.

Our Meat and Three Veg  consumer then gets called in to see the doctor promptly forgetting all she’s seen as she now has other far more pressing things on her mind. The doctor tells her that she is somewhat overweight for her height and age and that she should watch her diet and cut back on all the fatty foods and the sugary treats she loves. The doctor emphasises that potentially she could be a candidate for both diabetes and heart disease.

As a marketer appealing to this market, you’ll need to widen your marketing net and target your efforts towards those consumers who are conscious of the problem your product solves and educate them on the important elements and ingredients to watch out for.

Consideration Phase

Later that afternoon, Betty is in the supermarket doing her bi-weekly grocery shopping. She is now sensitised and aware. She is “problem-conscious” and as aresult begins to look for things she could try to possibly help her with her diet. This leads her into the health food section.

However… having tried so many diets over the years, she remains skeptical about health food products. To her, it all looks like rabbit food. She’s starting to feel uncomfortable and out of her comfort zone being in this section, and makes her way out of the aisle. Just as she is leaving, she spots an interesting gold label out the corner of her eye. It’s a jar of coconut oil.

Betty picks up the jar, and has a look at it. This transports her back to when she read the coconut oil article in the doctor’s waiting room. She remembers the article saying that coconut oil is good for you. She starts to wonder what other brands there are.

She starts browsing through the shelves of coconut oils. She starts to think to herself, “What do I buy? Which one should I try? What does it taste like? What if my husband and the kids don’t like it? Which one is a good brand? Wow, this stuff is expensive!”

After spending some time looking at all the brands of coconut oils, Betty concludes, “Maybe I need to do a bit more homework. I’ll ask Sam at work. She’s a bit of a health nut. Maybe she’ll be able to tell me what’s good and what’s not?”

In the Consideration Phase, consumers are being made aware of the product’s benefits and are therefore wondering what or if it would be good choice for them. This awareness brings along a number of concerns and questions that will need to be thought about and answered. If they decide it’s a good idea, they will move to the next phase of the Nescience Loop: Selection.

Selection Phase

So, the next day, Betty asks Sam about what her thoughts on coconut oil are. Sam was so excited, that she starting shooting out facts about coconut oil and how it helped her lose her “love handles”. Betty was fascinated and decided to learn more about coconut oil. So, she does what everyone else does when they have a question.. She asked Google.

She finds an article from Choice Magazine pointing out the pros and cons of coconut oil. In the article, it says that coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which is more than butter. It also explains that whilst coconut oil doesn’t contain cholesterol, other plant-based oils such as canola, flaxseed, grape seed and extra virgin olive oil all have significantly less saturated fats. The article actually points out that extra virgin olive oil has proven heart health benefits, whereas the evidence for coconut oil is still somewhat limited and unproven.

With all her new knowledge and awareness, Betty begins to wonder whether extra virgin olive oil may be a better option than coconut oil. The Choice article also points out, as she rightly thought, “It’s expensive. Around 3 times the price of olive oil!”.

“Well… If I can get the benefits of having less saturated fat, and get it for a reasonable price, then olive oil might be a better choice for me.” Betty concludes that she’ll buy extra virgin olive oil, instead of coconut oil. She adds extra virgin olive oil to her groceries list.

A week later, when Betty is at the supermarket, she browses the plethora of olive oil choices. Light, organic, Spanish, Greek, extra virgin, cold pressed… there are so many options! What does this all mean? A few bottles grab her attention, their designs appeal to her and reminds her of times she went shopping with her mother.

She starts comparing them. They both look pretty, similar to each other – they come in dark green-glass bottles, both are extra virgin and light, and they both have appealing packaging designs. But, one of them is $1.00 cheaper than the other.

“I’ll take this one instead since it looks nice, and it’s cheaper.” She says as she decides.

At this point in her awareness, Betty has no real awareness of any other functional drivers other than price to focus her decision. And so, because she is on a budget, she is price sensitive and price becomes her selection point.

In the Selection phase of the Nescience Loop©, the product pack and packaging design needs to do the heavy lifting — clearly demonstrating to your target audience why they should put your product into their shopping cart. What is it that will grab their attention? How does it distinguish itself from its competition on the shelf?

This is why we at Jam&Co firmly believe that as marketers, “We should never underestimate the task of captivating a target customer. We must move them emotionally and intellectually, so they see and pick our product off a shelf of competitors.”

Once the consumer has made their decision, they tend to move into the last phase of the Nescience Loop: the Habituation/Familiarity Phase.


Every time Betty runs out of extra virgin olive oil, she simply writes it in her grocery list, and when she’s at the supermarket, without looking or thinking, she buys the exact, same brand. She likes it, her family likes it, and it’s one less thing she has to worry about.

To the Oblivious consumer, no matter how surprising and delightful your pack may look on shelf, no matter how much it disrupts the category, even if it comes with a low price point, or it’s on special, it will have zero impact on them.


But Wait… She didn’t Buy the Coconut Oil!


This is the exact point we are trying to illustrate with the Nescience Loop© – Our consumer, Betty, was interested in coconut oil, but ended up buying extra virgin olive oil instead.

Using the Nescience Loop©, we are able to pinpoint which phase our target consumer is in. We therefore, use that information and apply it to your packaging design, your branding, and for your on-shelf strategy.

In the Betty scenario, there is one specific opportunity where we could have impacted Betty’s decision to have her purchase your product. The opportunity appeared when Betty was in the Consideration phase of the Nescience Loop©.  

How could we have grabbed her attention when she was scanning the coconut oil choices available to her?

  • The packaging design
  • Your packaging form
  • The price point
  • The perceived value
  • The key messages on pack
  • Does the information on the pack solve their problem?
  • How can we help the consumer see themselves as the ideal customer in your product pack?
  • What else can be added or taken away that will make you stand out from your competition?

While there are many levers we can pull to help drive more unit sales and increase the profit of your product, the Nescience Loop©, is an essential ingredient for understanding, appealing to and identifying  what your target consumer knows and what they don’t know.

The Nescience Loop© is one of the many strategies our Jam&Co’s designers use when they are evolving product designs for our clients. Some of our designers have been working with us for over 20 years, helping create surprising and delighting designs that help our clients’ products fly off the shelf.

Have a look at some of our previous clients and work in our packaging design and branding portfolio here.

To see how the Nescience Loop© can be applied to your product, feel free to contact the Jam&Co office and have a chat with our team.