Knowledge Bank Blog, Behaviour Change, Shopper Communication

Directing Shopper Behaviour – The 3 Step Approach

Are you following a simple 3 step communication process?

Think about the last time that you were in a restaurant looking at a long wine list. How did you make a choice?

Well, most of us when faced with a lot of information start arranging it into simple mental folders and sub folders. So, for a wine list it could be – (1) red or white? (2) Cheap or expensive? (3) Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc?

These 3 simple sub folders allow you to filter the options on the list and make a reasonable choice.

We all do this (often sub consciously). But the detail to which you do it, depends on whether you are an expert or a novice.   For instance, a wine expert will look at a wine list and immediately rely on a wider number of mental folders – such as vintage, region – that don’t occur to the novice.

Experts can deal with more information. Novices find it much harder. And when we are overwhelmed with information – e.g. a wine list or a set of pension options – we typically do one of two things. Either make a really simple choice = the house white (or maybe the second cheapest bottle on the list…). Or don’t make a choice at all = I’ll put the pension documents in a drawer and think about it another time.

Why are we talking about this? Well, most shoppers are novices. They are not experts in most categories or products. How can they be? There are over a hundred categories in a supermarket. There are many more sub categories, thousands of individual products. Many categories have a purchase frequency of only 3 or 4 times a year.

Yet we often overload shoppers – with range, with different promotions, with lots of product information. It’s the equivalent of the 4 page wine list. When you overload them, shoppers either make the simplest choice – whatever is cheapest or on deal. Or, they don’t make a choice at all. Either of these outcomes are a disaster for category value.

Simplicity and clarity is the key to helping shoppers make choices. To helping them make the choices we want them to make. So we need to organise information in simple, digestible chunks. The FMCG version of red or white, cheap or expensive, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

So, how can we do this?

Shelf Layout & Merchandising. Shoppers spend a lot of time navigating in store – as much time as they actually spend engaging with products. There is a big opportunity to manage this time more effectively. So, what could a simple 3 step navigation process look like?

How about snacking? (1) Category – e.g. chocolate (2) Product Format – e.g. chocolate blocks (3) Product Type – e.g. dark chocolate.

Or how about drinks? (1) Category – e.g. water (2) Product Type – e.g. still or sparkling (c) flavoured or not.

This type of 3 step process streamlines the shopping experience. Step 1 = get shoppers to the right part of the store. Step 2 = get shoppers to the right part of the shelf. Step 3 = help shoppers make a clear choice. This is important in store. It is even more important online.

Product Information. Shoppers spend very little time reading product information. Less information is nearly always better than more. So, what could a simple 3 step process look like here?

In some categories, such as personal care or homecare, it could be;

(1) What the product is – e.g. an anti ageing moisturiser (2) what the product does – e.g. works on the appearance of lines and wrinkles (3) why it is good – e.g. gives you younger, healthier skin.

Or in categories, such as food and drink, it could be;

(1) What the product is – e.g. it’s a mix of dried fruit & nuts (2) why it is good – e.g. it gives you a healthy energy boost (3) when to have it – e.g. mid afternoon.

Don’t be afraid of spelling things out for the shopper. What is clear to us is not always clear to them.

Launching NPD. Most NPD communication is still focused on the consumer – the TV ad, the digital campaign. Much less is focused on the shopper – how are we going to get them to buy? Products that don’t get bought, don’t stick around for long.

So, what could a simple 3 step communication process look like here?

(1) What the new product is – e.g. a chilled ready to drink coffee (2) where to find it – e.g. in the dairy aisle, next to milk (3) when to find it – e.g. in store on 1st May.

We did have a brilliant 4th action point for you…

However, given we’ve been talking about 3’s all the way through, it just wouldn’t be right to use it.

After all, 3 is the magic number, right?

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