Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy, Shopper Communication

Finding Your Angle

In the early hours of Wednesday 9th November 2016, a 70-year-old man walked onto a stage surrounded by his family and supporters.

He started talking…

“Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business, complicated. Thank you very much. I’ve just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us. It is about us. Our victory…”

The man was Donald Trump. He had just been elected the 45th President of the United States.

It was one big event. But it was reported in a variety of ways.

The New York Times went with “Trump Triumphs.”

The Financial Times went with “Trump moves to reassure shocked allies and nervous investors.”

The Daily Express went with “Trump boost for our EU exit.”

The Daily Mirror went with “It’s President Trump. What have they done?”

Each of the newspapers framed the headline in a way that made it meaningful to their readers.

Same event. Very different angles.

Why are we talking about this? There are lots of big topics in the FMCG and retail world. Topics that matter to shoppers. That matter to manufacturers. That matter to retailers.

Things like health. Things like quality. Things like sustainability. Things like value.

These are things that manufacturers and retailers talk about constantly. Shoppers are bombarded with messages about sustainability. About health. About value. This creates a lot of noise. If you see 20 messages about sustainability, they all blur into one.

To stand out you need to find your angle. Don’t just talk about something. Talk about your specific angle on it.

To do this you need to think about two questions. Firstly, what is important? What matters to enough shoppers? Secondly, what is distinctive? What can you do and say that your competitors can’t do or say?

So how can you do this?

Finding your angle on (category or brand) purpose. We’ve seen lots of purposes. We’ve seen them getting increasingly lofty. So lofty that Maslow would need to add another couple of levels on his hierarchy to accommodate them.

Having a purpose is a good thing. But having a purpose that is so elevated that it could apply to any category or brand isn’t. Make it specific. Identify what is important in your category. Then identify what is distinctive about your category (or brand). Put the two things together and you have your purpose. Graze – “we make good” (important) “exciting” (distinctive) is a great example.

Finding your angle on sustainability. It is good to do things on packaging. Have less plastic. Have better (e.g. recycled or recyclable) plastic. Ideally have no plastic. These are important things to do. We should keep doing them. But everyone is doing them. They are what shoppers expect you to do.

To make a real difference you need to do things that will cut through with shoppers. Things that are important (matter to shoppers and the environment). Things that are distinctive (that shoppers will notice and really credit you for). Tesco not selling any baby wipes that contain plastic is a great example. Ariel’s “Turn to 30°” campaign is another one.

Finding your angle on value. It’s not just price conscious shoppers who are looking for value. All shoppers look for value. But in our industry, we tend to think value = price. Give shoppers low prices and you are giving them value. All this does is encourage shoppers to choose the product that offers the lowest price not the one that offers the best value.

If you broaden the definition of value, you start looking at value for money. What you get for what you pay. A product that is cheaper but doesn’t last very long is not good value. One that is cheaper but doesn’t perform as well it not good value. Too often brands fight the battle on price (or promotions) when they should be fighting the battle on value. Fairy Liquid doesn’t compete on price. It competes (& wins) on value – better performance and longer lasting. Things that are important and distinctive.

There are plenty of other examples. You can find your angle on health. For instance, Innocent “we never add sugar” (important) “never have, never will” (distinctive). You can find your angle on meal solutions. For instance, Tesco 3 step traybake. Traybake (important – something a lot of people eat). 3 steps – base + hero + sauce (distinctive).

Everyone is trying to do the same sort of things. To stand out you need to find your angle.

That’s why the headline in the Buchan Observer on 9th November 2016 was…

“Aberdeen business owner wins presidential election.”

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