Knowledge Bank Blog, Behaviour Change, New Product Launches

Doing the Right Things in the Right Order

Are you sequencing your activities?

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant.  Did the waiter come over, welcome you and say ‘can I suggest you start with a brandy?’  Or, after taking the starters away, offer you a coffee? Unlikely.

When eating at a restaurant there is a natural order of activities – water, drink to start, bread, starter, main & wine with main, dessert, coffee.   We are all used to something like this and any change to this order would be strange.  Sure, you could miss steps along the way, but you are not going to order a dessert before your starter.  And if you did, you are going to get a very odd look from the waiter.  And probably the person you are with.

This type of sequencing happens all the time in daily life.  From your tried and tested morning routine to which shoe you always put on first.  Try doing it the other way round, it feels weird.  If we didn’t have a natural sequence to the way we do things, simple stuff would suddenly become very hard.

So, why is this important to what we do?  Well, the easier you can make it for a shopper to buy your categories and brands, the more likely they are to do so.  The more clearly you can shape the path to doing so, the more you can direct their behaviour.  The critical thing in all this is to know what behaviour you are trying to influence, in what order.

When you have an issue you are trying to address, the natural temptation is to throw the kitchen sink at it.  Do everything you can to turn things around.  But how do you know whether you are addressing the right things at the right point?  You might have a fantastic message on pack, but most shoppers are walking straight past your part of the fixture.  You might have 3 great new variants, but most shoppers aren’t coming down the aisle.

Breaking down the steps the shopper needs to take, then doing the right things in the right order, gives activities the best chance of working.

So, what do we mean?

Driving Category Conversion.   Any shopper has to go through a series of steps to buy into a category in store.  They have to come down the aisle (assuming they don’t buy from a gondola end).  They have to stop and engage with the products at shelf.  Then they have to go from engaging to buying.

Each of these steps requires different solutions.  What you need to do to get more shoppers down the aisle (e.g. visible signage) is very different to what you need to do to get shoppers to stop and engage (e.g. range clarity) or to buy (e.g. crystal clear messaging).  Your success at each stage is dependent on your success at the previous stage.  Nobody stopping = nobody buying.

Spelling out the Steps in a Regime.  In many categories, the big opportunity for growth is getting shoppers to add a product to their regime.  Brush your teeth twice a day, but don’t use mouthwash or floss?  Use a detergent, but don’t use a pre wash product or fabric conditioner?  For a full oral care or laundry regime there are certain products you need to use in a certain order.

The more you can spell this out for shoppers, the more likely they are to know what they could or should be doing, the more likely they are to do it.  And don’t be afraid of literally spelling it out.  Step 1 = X, Step 2 = Y, Step 3 = Z.

Launching a New Product.  Again, there is a natural sequence to registering a new product in the shopper’s mind.  They need to know what it looks like.   They need to know where to look for it.   They need to understand what it is and does.  They need to buy it for the first time.  Then they need to buy it again.  Having a simple sequence of activities, targeted at the right steps in this process, significantly increases your chances of success.  Crucial when most new products fail.

If you don’t break down the steps and follow the right sequence, you end up with a melting pot of ideas and activities.  Some of them will be very good.  They will often be the right things to do. However, if they are not being done in the right order, they probably won’t work.

Are you doing the right things in the right order?

On a separate note, our article for The Grocer goes out tomorrow.  You can find it in the ‘Comment & Opinion’ section.  We also have a link to it on our website

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.