Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy, Channel Execution

Category Development : Best Friend

Do you know who your best friend is…?

There is lots of evidence that the easier it is to do something, the more likely you are to do it.  For instance, it is much easier to drive a new behaviour by attaching it to an existing behaviour.  Want to eat more fruit?  Chop some up and put it on your breakfast cereal.  Want to drink more water?  Have a glass of water every time you have a hot drink.

Many of the things we do are triggered by other behaviours.  And these trigger behaviours can either work for us or against us.  The cigarette after a couple of glasses of wine, perhaps…!

A similar thing applies to Category Development.  We often think about our categories and brands in isolation.  Yet this is often not how they are bought or used.  Some categories are very dependent on each other.  They are already best friends. Other categories that could be used together are often not. Could they be better friends?

We think that knowing who your best friend is, and building that relationship, can be crucial to category growth. And if you can build that relationship better than your competitors, your brand will win disproportionately.

So, how do you identify your best friend and make that relationship work to your advantage?

Firstly, establish and build the link.  When is your category used or consumed?  Are there occasions when you are not being used that you could be?  How can your product complement the other product?

A great example of this is Cobra Beer and Curry.  Cobra has created an explicit link with Curry and continually reinforces the link.  They have done it so well that many people don’t even think about what beer they are going to drink.  If it’s Curry, it’s Cobra.  By creating such a strong link to the primary decision (what to have for dinner), Cobra increase their chances of winning in the secondary decision (what to drink with it).

Secondly, get as close as possible to your best friend in store.  Many categories would love to get out of their own aisle and into a higher traffic location in store.  Traffic is good, but relevance is better. And traffic + relevance is even better.  So, if you are a cooking sauce the closer you can get to the fresh section, and the most relevant products within (do you want to be next to chicken, beef or fish…) the greater your chances of being bought.

However, remember that relevance needs to be positive.  The shelf strips of Nurofen in the beer aisle that we regularly see do have a logical association.  But the last thing the shopper wants to be reminded of when they are buying beer is the potential hangover.  So, protect your land.  Someone trying to be your best friend can actually be your enemy.

Finally, spell out the association and consistently reinforce it.  If you are perfect with pasta, tell people.  If you should be used after every shower, tell people.  Don’t rely on the shopper joining the dots.  Do it for them.  And whenever you can, incentivise cross purchase.  Soft drinks and crisps not only get close to sandwiches in the food to go section, but they are tied together in the meal deal. It drives an AND purchase rather than an OR purchase.

So, whether you are a lower penetration category or have higher penetration and are trying to drive frequency, having a best friend can really help.  It can step change your relevance.  And if you step change your relevance, you are likely to step change your sales.

Do you have a best friend?  And, if not, should you…?

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.