Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Shopper Communication

Bumps in the Road

Are you avoiding the bumps in the road for your product?

How often do you choose the easy option?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to look deep into your psyche and think about all the big choices you’ve made. You can relax.  Just think about some of the simple choices you make in life.

Let’s give you an example.  Say you put a fruit bowl out in the office with apples, bananas and oranges in it.  What will be left in the bowl at the end of the day?  The likelihood is that it will be the oranges.  Now, this is nothing against oranges.  They are a perfectly good fruit.

But, let’s admit it, they are a bit of a hassle.  You have to peel them.  It’s going to be a bit messy when you do so.  You are going to have to wash your hands after eating them.  When you factor all that in, it’s easier to pick a banana or apple.

Of course, you wouldn’t have spent 2 minutes in front of the fruit bowl weighing up all the pros and cons.  Your brain quickly decides that an orange is a bit of a hassle and the banana is nice and easy.  Choice made.

Last week we talked about automaticity.  The stage you get to where it becomes easier to do something than not to do it.  In our industry, the stage where it is easier to buy and use our products than not.

There are a number of steps in the buying and usage journey that determine how easy it is to buy and use a product.  We call these steps ‘bumps in the road’.  Can your product smoothly navigate through them?  Or are one, or more, of the bumps going to become serious obstacles?

So, what are some of the potential bumps in the road to look out for?

Being in enough stores and being in the right stores.  It sounds obvious, but let’s say it anyway.  Not being in enough stores is a significant barrier to getting bought.  It is partly about scale of distribution and partly about prioritisation.  Are your best selling SKU’s in wide enough distribution?  Are you clearly prioritising them above weaker SKU’s in the range?

Is your distribution strong enough in the stores that matter for your category and brand? For instance, we still see a lot of snacking products that have low distribution in the channels in which snacking products are typically bought – convenience and on the go.

Easy to pick up and carry. In tests, shoppers were shown a shelf.  The only things on it were a set of unbranded products from the same category.  They were asked to select a product.  The products that were easiest to pick up were the ones most likely to be picked up.

The test was done in categories where the products were small.  If this applies to small products it must apply even more to big products.  We are still surprised by the amount of bulky products that are hard to pick up, carry and transport.  We spend so much time coming up with clever ways in which we can differentiate our brands, yet often we miss some simple, more practical things.  Surely a shopper wouldn’t select a competitor because it is easier to carry?  Well, actually, yes they might.

Knowing when to use the product.  Last week we talked about linking to occasions – crucial for many foods.  If a shopper is not clear when to use the product, they are unlikely to buy it.  This also means linking to key meals.  If your product can’t be used in the key meals people eat or is not considered for them, that is a big bump in the road.

Knowing how to use the product. This can apply to products in nearly every category.  How do I prepare this vegetable?  Do I use mouthwash before or after I brush?  How do I make a mojito?  How much of this cream should I use? There are lots of products that are not bought or usage occasions that are missed as a result of not being clear on this.  We know this, of course.  But does the average shopper?

Hassle free consumption.  This is the orange example earlier.  It’s messy, I’d rather choose something else.  This can be a key barrier for things like fruit & vegetables.  It can also be a big barrier for on the go products.  How many people eat whilst playing with their smartphone or tablet?  Do you select the product that will leave greasy fingerprints?  Probably not.

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are plenty of bumps in the road.  Some of them will be more or less important by category.  Some of them might be big things – you are not in the right stores.  Some of them might feel like small things – you are not easy to pick up.

One small bump in the road can be the difference between being bought or not.  Or bought again or not.

Don’t be the last fruit in the bowl.

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