Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy

Category Development : Building the Habit of Buying

Are you aligning the usage occasion to the purchase occasion?

One of the key principles of behaviour change is the easier you can make something to do, the more likely you are to do it.  In fact, the less you have to think about it, the better.  Want to make sure you go for a run in the morning?  Then lay out your running gear the night before.  Want to drink more water?  Then put a bottle of water in your bag before you go out.

A similar principle applies to category development.  The easier you are to buy, the more likely you are to get bought.  One of the best ways of doing this is aligning the product usage or consumption occasion to the purchase occasion.

Too many categories miss out on potential usage occasions because the product is out of stock at home or the shopper has forgotten to buy.    But what if you could make it easy for shoppers, so that buying becomes a habit they don’t have to think about?  How can you do this?

Pack Size.  Is your pack size aligned to the consumption cycle of your category?  For instance, if you have a product for weekday breakfast or the lunchbox, does it come in 5 servings?  If you want a product to be used every day of the week, does it come in a 7 pack?

One interesting category is Mini Health Drinks.  These drinks should be consumed daily in order to reduce cholesterol or aid digestion.  Most products are sold in 6 packs.  But most people still do a weekly shop.  So, shoppers are left with the option of buying too much or not enough.  Yakult is the only brand that sells in a 7 pack. No more thinking about whether you need to buy the product.  It becomes an automatic purchase each week and provides Yakult with a simple competitive advantage.

This can be particularly important if you are trying to link with complementary products or ‘best friends’.  The purchase of one product should act as the trigger to buy the other product.  This works most effectively when the consumption and purchase cycles of the two products are aligned.

For instance, in the laundry category, the purchase of the higher penetration product (detergent) should act as the trigger to buy the lower penetration product (conditioner).  However, they have different pack sizes, with different number of washes and therefore different use up rates.  You don’t run out at the same time, so you often don’t buy them at the same time.

Promotional Strategy and Tactics.  Are you using promotions to drive the habitual behaviour you want?  We saw a promotion last week across all Porridge Pots.  Buy 5, save £1.  So, incentivising the daily consumption behaviour that is good for the category.  Whilst establishing 5 as the amount to buy each time.  Amazon Subscribe and Save gives a discount off many FMCG products, like nappies and detergents, with predictable usage cycles.  Giving the shopper 20% off each purchase costs much less than most brands spend on more traditional promotions.

Too often we think habitual purchasing is a bad thing.  Actually, it’s a really good thing.  The more you can drive habitual purchase, the more you can keep the home stocked up, the more consumption occasions you can drive, and the less money you need to spend driving it.

So, think about your categories and brands, how well are you building the habit of buying?

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.