Encoding specificity refers to Endel Tulving’s notion that to successfully retrieve something from memory there must be a match between how information is originally encoded and how it is available when being retrieved from memory.
Further discussion and example on encoding specificity:
While encoding specificity is a principle in psychology, it has a wide appeal across several disciplines, specifically marketing communications and brand awareness.
In summary, encoding specificity is mostly effective when information at encoding is available the moment the target audience retrieves it. How this plays out in marketing communications is, will the target audience easily recall a brand name they have already learned when needed at point of purchase; at the moment of retrieval?
An individual that is unfamiliar with a brand, must obviously learn the brands name, hence encoding. However, just learning the brand name is not enough to trigger an action, such as a purchase. The target must not only encode and learn the brand name, colors, look, etc., but they must associate the brand with a need when the need arises. In other words, when seeing the brand name or package, the target must immediately recognize the brand, associating it with a need and asking the questions, “Do I need any of brand x, now?”« Back to Glossary Index