Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

Control what you can control

Let’s start with a scenario that we’ve probably all experienced at some point in our lives.

You are driving on a motorway. A car pulls out from an inside lane right in front of you. You slam on the brakes to avoid rear ending them.

How do you react? Do you…

a. Think “idiot”, shrug your shoulders and go back to singing along to the radio?

b. Replace “idiot” with some of your choicest swear words and shout aggressively at the driver who cut you up?

c. Swear profusely, then put your foot down in pursuit of the offender determined to exact your revenge?

If you said “A” well done. But…really? If you said “B” fair enough, it’s what most of us would probably do. If you said “C” stop reading this blog and get some help with your anger management issue.

There is a short equation that can help you deal with situations like these. It is E + R = O. E = Event (e.g. being cut up). R = Response (your reaction to being cut up). O = Outcome (if you chose A in the scenario, it had a minimal impact on you – good outcome. If you chose C you’ve engaged in a few minutes of wacky races with all the risk that comes with it – bad outcome).

The important point here is that you can’t control the event. If someone cuts you up, they cut you up. But you can control your response. You can decide to get angry or not. It is your response that determines the outcome. You don’t control the Event. You do control the Response.

So, control what you can control.

Why are we talking about this? Well, it’s very relevant to our lives at the moment. You can’t control Covid 19 and lockdown. You can control how you respond to it.

It’s also very relevant to the FMCG industry right now. If you are a manufacturer there are many things you maybe can’t control – retailer support for the NPD you were planning to launch, the shopper marketing activities you wanted to run, the promotions that you had in your plan.

But there are some things that you can control. Your key shopper assets. Your primary pack. Your secondary packaging (SRP). Your on pack communication.

They are yours. They are free (no paying for secondary space or POS). Importantly, they are there (in store or online) every day.

At a time when a lot of things are outside your control, why not double down on the things you do control – your key shopper assets.

So how can you do this?

Shopper Asset #1 – Primary Pack. This is your most important shopper asset. Let’s talk about two of the key things a pack needs to deliver. First, stand out. To stand out you need to be recognisable. You do that by being consistent over time. If you travelled back to the 1950s you would immediately recognise Kellogg’s Cornflakes. If someone from the 1950s walked down the cereal aisle today, they would immediately recognise Kellogg’s Cornflakes.

Second, the pack needs to be simple. The front of the pack is for the shopper – it needs to simply communicate the key information a shopper needs. The back and side of the pack are for the consumer. They can give the more detailed information that is important but would make the front of pack too cluttered if it were there. Innocent is a great example of designing a front of pack for the shopper. Then back and side of pack for the consumer.

Shopper Asset #2 – Secondary Packaging. Great SRP works with the primary pack not against it. In fact, it should be so visually consistent that you might not even notice it’s there. De-Cecco pasta (in the above image) is one of the best examples of this you will see. SRP also gives room for messaging. A message that might be small on your primary pack can be amplified on secondary packaging. This doesn’t mean lots of messages, it means your single most important message. It might be a quality message. It might be a benefit message. It might be a value message. It might be an occasion message (e.g. Perfect for X). It is the message you most want a shopper to see every time they are near your part of the shelf.

Shopper Asset #3 – On Pack Communication. Shoppers are in store to buy products. So, most of their attention in store (or online) is on, or around, products. So, the closer you can communicate to the product, the more likely it is to be seen. So why not use your products as a communication vehicle? You can use it to drive trial. For instance, Heinz often put stickers on their Ketchup packs (which a lot of people see and buy) to prompt shoppers to trial other Heinz sauces. Or you can use disruptive stickering on pack to reinforce your main product benefit. For instance, Viakal have used a big “No1 against Limescale” sticker on pack. Innocent (them again…) do this brilliantly with the small knitted hats in their Big Knit activity.

These shopper assets are not as exciting as the big new merchandising solution or secondary display. But they have one really important thing going for them – you control them.

Just like you control how you react to the **** that cut you up.

Feel free to forward. Have a good weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.