Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy

Category Development : Identifying Your Angle

Is your Category Strategy specific enough…?

How many commitments do you make?  And how many of them do you follow through on?  Half? A third?  Less than a third?  Life is full of good intentions that are rarely put into practice.  This is not because we are all bad people who go around breaking promises.  It is because we are rarely specific enough in our commitments.  And if we are not specific enough, we will rarely change our behaviour.

The classic case of this is New Year resolutions.  Each January, millions of New Year resolutions are made.  And each February, millions of resolutions are broken (if they even make it into February).  People will say ‘in 2015 I will lose weight’.  This is admirable, but destined to fail.  You can do so many different things to lose weight, that you are likely to do none of them.

However, what if you said ‘I will drink skimmed milk each day’, ‘I will take the stairs instead of the lift’, ‘I will go to the fitness class every Tuesday’?  The more specific you are, the more likely you will know what to do, and the more likely you will actually do it.

We think something similar is true of Category Strategies.  Often we see exactly the same growth drivers being used across different categories.  We think this is because a lot of the drivers and language used in category strategies are too broad. The broader you are, the more people will agree that it is important – who will say, health, premiumisation, or sustainability are not important?  However, the broader you are, the less likely that people will know what the angle is for your category and therefore what to do as a result.

So, what do we specifically mean…?

Take Health.  Health is relevant to lots of categories, but, in different ways.  It could be positive health – a great source of Omega 3.  Or it could be about addressing a negative – lower salt, fat or sugar.  It might be about wholesomeness, real not artificial.  Whatever it is, don’t stop at ‘health’. Identify the angle on health for your category and then align your activities (products, communication etc) behind that angle.

How about Ease of Shop? This means different things in different categories.  In Crisps it might be about reducing range.  In Household Cleaners it might be about signposting and navigation.  In Wine it might be about clear product information.  In Personal Care it might be about using simpler language.  Different category issues require different solutions.

What about New Usage Occasions? Every category wants to identify new usage occasions for their products.  But what are the specific usage occasions you are going after?  Belvita is a great example of this.  They targeted the Breakfast occasion, an incremental occasion for the category.  They specifically told consumers when to eat the product.  If Belvita was just a healthier biscuit with no link to a usage occasion, would it have worked as well?  Probably not.  Would a whole new breakfast biscuits sub category have emerged?  Definitely not.

Specificity can feel risky.  What if it is controversial?  What if it casts doubt on your company’s activities?  However, in the long run, ambiguity is even more risky.  What if nobody knows what to do?

As more and more categories all try to deliver against similar macro trends, the only way of differentiating is to be specific.

So, do you know what your angle is…?

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.