Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

Be Familiar to be Bought

Are you familiar enough?

Which do you prefer?

Your face that you see in the mirror each day or your face that you see in a photo?

If the science is correct, then most of you will prefer the version that you see in the mirror.

Why is that? Well, it’s because we see ourselves in the mirror very regularly. Whereas, we see ourselves in photos much less often. The technical term is the ‘exposure effect’. To put it simply, we prefer things that are familiar. And the image that you see in the mirror is much more familiar than the one that you see in a photo.

This effect happens in all walks of life. For instance, in 15 of the last 16 years, the highest grossing movie in the USA has been a sequel of a previously successful movie (e.g. Star Wars) or an adaptation of a previously successful book (e.g. The Grinch).

Most people live lives of quiet familiarity. They listen to music that sounds like the music they’ve heard before. They watch movies like the ones they’ve watched before. They eat the meals that they’ve eaten before. In our world it means they buy the types of products that they have bought before.

So, why is this important? In our industry a lot of resource is focused on trying to change shopper behaviour. To get shoppers to make another choice. Much less time is spent trying to reinforce a behaviour. Helping shoppers avoid having to make another choice.

In most FMCG categories shoppers want to make quick choices. And the quickest choice they can make is to buy what they bought last time from the place that they bought it last time. The more familiar your brand or product is, the more likely this is to happen.

So, how can you maximise familiarity?

Design for Familiarity.   This means designing for maximum visibility in store. Designs that create strong brand blocks. That can be seen from a distance. That draw the shopper to your part of the shelf. It means consistency in design over time. Knowing which elements of your brand and pack identity are key to recognition, then protecting them over time. Being familiar means evolution not revolution in pack design.

It also means designing for visibility in the home. Fridge packs, like the Coke and Heinz ones, are good examples. The fridge is opened several times a day. The food cupboard maybe once a day. Another good example is the Yeo Valley ‘fridge door’ pack. A pack structure change with the aim of claiming a permanent place in the fridge door, next to milk. The most visible and most familiar part of the fridge.

Communicate for Familiarity. This means simplicity. Communicating simply and clearly what your brand stands for and why it is a better option than alternatives. Using just a few, memorable words. Then making that communication consistent over time and across touch points.

Lynx (Axe) is a classic example of this. The core proposition (use Lynx and you will attract more females) has been consistent for 30+ years. The same core message is communicated across touch points, but dialled up or down depending on who is likely to see it – the teenage male or his mum buying it for him.

It also means a familiar tone of voice.   For instance, Innocent have a very familiar tone of voice that they use consistently – whether the communication is about smoothies, fruit juice or veg pots. Consistency breeds familiarity.

Build Familiar Habits. This could be based around an occasion – for example, McCain linking their products to ‘teatime’. Or It could be about signalling frequent use – if you want people to use your product every day, make sure you use the word ‘daily’, or a variation of this, in your communication.

It is also about winning early. As habits are forming. This is particularly important for online shopping. Many online shoppers rely heavily on the favourites list. If your brand is on the favourites list, you have a much better chance of being bought. If it isn’t on the favourites list, it can be really hard to get on it. Past purchasing behaviour predicts future purchasing behaviour.

Familiarity may seem boring to us in the industry. But familiarity is good for most shoppers. And familiarity is good for sales.

Right, we’re off to figure out what to do tonight.

How about the same takeaway, same bottle of wine, same type of film as last week?

Yep. The perfect evening.

On a separate note, our monthly article in The Grocer goes out in tomorrow’s edition .  There is a link to it on our website……t-cuts-through/ ‎

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.