Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio

Better Where It Matters

Are you better on the things that count?

Who is the best footballer of all time?  Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona, Best?

What about the best TV programme of all time?  Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Wire?

Best film, best book…?

Billions of hours in pubs or around dinner tables have been spent debating, and probably never agreeing, on these kinds of questions.  ‘Better’ can be very subjective.  ‘Best’ even more so.  Ask 10 different people for the best song of all time and you will likely get 10 different answers.

By the way, the correct answer is, of course, Purple Rain.

The FMCG world is full of claims about ‘better’.  There are more and more products competing with each other – private label, tertiary brands, challenger brands and brand leaders.  All claiming to be good or better than the competition.  For shoppers it is becoming ever harder to differentiate between products and their supporting claims. Many shoppers settle for ‘good enough’.

But ‘good enough’ is bad for both brands and categories.  ‘Good enough’ often means buying whichever of the acceptable brands in a category is on deal.  ‘Good enough’ often means shoppers paying less in a category than they would if they had chosen the ‘better’ or ‘best’ option.  ‘Good enough’ is not good enough for category growth.

So how can you be better and convince shoppers you are better, to encourage them to pay more.  Whether that is for existing products or for NPD?

Being Better on the Products that Matter.  This means focusing on the high volume products – the high volume lines and flavours.  Having the best vanilla ice cream at a slightly higher price that shoppers are prepared to pay, is worth a lot to brand and category value.  Great if you can make the best (and perhaps only…) kiwi flavour, but it is irrelevant to the majority of shoppers.

Better doesn’t necessarily mean new and different.  For instance, Bighams successfully get many shoppers to pay £7 for a chilled ready meal.  Most of these meals are mainstream dishes like lasagne or fish pie.  Be better on the key things people eat or use.

Being Better on the Benefits that Matter.  This means being better on the key driver(s) of shopper choice in a category.  Blackberry smartphones used to be better (perhaps still are) on security and ease of typing.  Then the iPhone came along with things like camera quality, internet speed, apps.  Blackberry still had advantages on key features.  Just not on the features that mattered most to the majority of smartphone users.

In any category, products will have a variety of features or benefits.  But they are not all equal when it comes to product choice.  There are likely to be one or two – e.g. fragrance in fabric conditioners, refreshment in beer or soft drinks – that really matter.  Focus your effort on being better on the things that matter.  Not on the things that don’t.

Being Better Amongst the People that Matter.  It is easy to say ‘new’ or ‘improved’ or ‘best ever’.  Lots of products do.   But if everyone says the same things in the same way, how can shoppers differentiate?  Increasingly, shoppers look to what other people say about brands to guide their choices.  Whether that is what other shoppers say – Boots and Waitrose are communicating online reviews at the point of purchase in store.  Or what trusted sources say – Colgate use dentist recommendation on POS and Pack communication.

A great recent example has been Fever Tree Tonic Water.  They do 2 things.  Firstly, they reframe the choice for shoppers ‘If three quarters of your Gin & Tonic is TONIC.  Make sure you use THE BEST’.  So, don’t just think about the Gin, pay as much, if not more, attention to the Tonic.  Then they support this by saying ‘Named Tonic of Choice by the World’s Top Bars and Restaurants’.  A simple reassurance – the world’s top bars are not going to use rubbish tonic water, right?

We all have our personal preferences.  It would be pretty boring down the pub or round the dinner table if we all agreed.  Better can be subjective.  However, to drive brand and category growth, it often needs to be more objective.

Shoppers will pay more for better if they are confident that it is better.  Better where it matters.

Now, best flavour of crisps, what do you think…?

No, seriously, what do you think?  Reply to this email, or if you are reading on Linked in, post a comment.  We’ll tell you the results next week.

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…. ‎

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.