Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Channel Execution

Fishing Where the Fish Are

Are you focusing on the products that matter most?

So, it’s the first full week of January.  Many of you will now be 9 days into your New Years resolutions.  How many have you got – 1, 2, 3, 5+…?  And how are you getting on?

The experts say that those of you have picked one resolution have a much better chance of succeeding than those of you who have a number of resolutions.  Come up with 5 vague resolutions and you will most likely have given up on them by the end of January.  Focus on 1 specific resolution and the chances are you will succeed. Spreading your effort too thinly typically leads to failure. Focus typically leads to success.

We think there is an interesting parallel in our industry when we look at brands and products.  The big temptation for brand owners is to focus on the new and different.  What is the fashionable new flavour or scent? What is going to be the next super ingredient?

Of course newness does play an important role.  Categories and brands need to move on and create interest.  Without this, the supermarket would be a pretty boring place.

However, we mustn’t fail to recognise that eating and consumption habits take a pretty long time to change.  Most people are creatures of habit and tend to buy similar things week in, week out.  So, whilst brand owners would love to launch the fantastic new blueberry, guava and acai flavours of ice cream, shoppers are most interested in buying vanilla.  This is where the fish are – vanilla in ice cream, strawberry in yoghurt, tomato in soups.

So where do you put your resources?  On the products that most shoppers buy or the new ones you hope they might buy one day?  And where is the greatest competition? Well, if you’re a brand competing against private label, or a brand or retailer competing against the discounters, it’s on the high volume lines.  The biggest selling product formats and flavours.  The competition is backing tomato, whilst you might be thinking about aubergine.  Which is more relevant to more shoppers?

So, if you choose to focus on fishing where the fish are, how can you go about it?

Firstly, it is about brilliantly delivering on the products themselves.  Are you offering superior product quality on the best-selling variants or flavours?  Do you have a quality advantage versus your key competitors?

Secondly, having a compelling proposition.  Giving shoppers a clear reason to buy your brand.  Be specific.  Why are you good, better than the competition and therefore worth paying for?

Thirdly, giving products the space they need on shelf.  In most categories, the best selling lines are under spaced, which impacts availability and the ease of shopping.  We often need to over space growing parts of the category.  That is fine.  But squeeze the space of the flavour, variant or brand tail, not the space of the high volume products.

We think a great recent example of all this has been Heinz Ketchup.  They have never taken their eye off the core, consistently communicating and activating around the quality of classic tomato ketchup.    Yes, they have still been doing plenty of other things, but they have never stopped fishing where the fish are.

So, next time you think about your category or brand strategy, ask yourself are you fishing where the fish are?  Are you putting enough attention into the big volume lines, and doing the right things to win where the competition is fiercest?

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.