Channel Execution, Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio


How accessible are you?

Over the last few weeks we have been talking about making things as easy as possible to do.  Our brains like things to be easy and we tend to do what is easiest or most convenient.  One of the keys to this is accessibility.  The more accessible an option is, the more likely we are to take it.

Even some of the biggest decisions we can make in life can be driven by accessibility.

For example, countries that have introduced legal restrictions on the number of paracetemol tablets that can be bought in one go, significantly reduced suicide rates.  Indeed the introduction of these rules in the UK led to a 42% reduction in rates from paracetemol ingestion.

Now, you would have thought that once you had made a decision as important as ending your life, the fact that you had to go to more than one store to buy enough paracetemol, shouldn’t affect your plans.  Surely your mind is made up?  But no, the additional hassle of the extra store was enough for some people to abandon the plan. Small change, big difference.

Accessibility is constantly impacting our decisions.  How many meal decisions are made based on what is left in the fridge?  How often is the chocolate pushed further down the table, out of arms reach?

In our industry accessibility has always been crucial.  If you are a grocery retailer you are not going to get that far without a strong store base.  This has been one of the key drivers of Discounter growth in recent years – many more shoppers now have the opportunity to shop there.  For a manufacturer, distribution has always been key.  If you are not in enough stores you will struggle to get a foothold in the market.

However, accessibility is about more than lots of stores or high distribution.  There are many ways you can make your product more accessible.

So, what are some of the things you can do to drive accessibility?

A strong presence in the stores that matter.  Distribution is not created equal.  Some stores are more important than others.  Trying to establish a premium product?  Then more specialist stores are key.  Trying to target the gifting occasion?  Then you will need to be in the right places online.  The places shoppers go to browse for gifts – often non grocery.  Got a product that is designed to bought and used on the go?  Then you will need to focus on convenience and food service.

The right off shelf locations.  When we think about off shelf locations we often focus on traffic – how many shoppers walk past?  We pay less attention to relevance.  Are we relevant to shoppers at that point in their journey? If you are co-locating products then there should be a relevant association between the two.  We see lots of clip strips with no relevance to the shelf they are attached to.  Browsing for premium haircare products?  Surely, you want to buy some nuts?  Err, no.  It is not just that this is irrelevant.  It actually gets in the way of selling the product you should be trying to sell.

Right pack sizes and formats.   Category growth rarely comes from new flavours or variants.  It usually comes from accessing new usage occasions.  So, when you have a winning product, why wouldn’t you put it in the most accessible pack sizes and formats instead of launching a new flavour that may not work?  Coke has a pack size for nearly every buying or usage occasion.  Robinsons Squash’d (add to water) is another example.  Instead of competing with water, attach yourself to it.

Always being in stock at home.  Lots of categories miss out on usage occasions because they are out of stock at home.  Or they miss out because stocks are running low.  It is amazing how creative you can be with the last bits of toothpaste in the tube.  On the flipside, when you have a lot of something, you will be surprised by how much you can use – the first squirt of a new shower gel is often a handful.  How much stock you have at home implicitly guides you on how much to use.  Running low, use carefully.  Got a lot, use liberally.  For many categories the difference between these 2 situations can be worth a lot of money.

As the retail market continues to develop rapidly – with Discounters, Convenience and E-Commerce the 3 growth channels – accessibility has never been more important.  But it is not just about being there.  It is also about being as easy to buy and use as possible.

If, probably the biggest decision you could ever make in life, can be influenced by accessibility, then the small ones, like which soft drink or cleaning product to buy, will be even more influenced by it.

To win you need to be accessible.  More accessible than the competition.

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.