Public Blog, Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

Giving The Right Vibes

On Tuesday 5th November, Americans will vote in the Presidential election.

They will have a choice between the current president and the previous one.  Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

They are the oldest candidates to ever run for President of the United States.  Joe Biden will be 81 on polling day.  Donald Trump will be 78.

Age is an issue.  But it is only a big issue for one of the candidates.

In a recent New York Times poll, 73% of registered voters said that Biden was too old to be effective.  Whereas only 45% of registered votes said that Trump was too old.

Why such a difference?  The answer lies in something called ‘The Vibes Theory of Politics’.  This says that voters pay little attention to policy.  The things that candidates say they will do.  Instead, voters make quick judgements based on vibes.  The signals that candidates give.

Watch a few seconds’ footage of each candidate.  It’s all you need to form an impression.  Biden gives the vibes of being an old man.  Trump doesn’t.

So, age is a much bigger issue for Biden than Trump.

Why are we talking about this?  What is true for politics is true for many areas of life.  We form quick judgements based on limited knowledge.  You know nothing about the person you’ve just met.  But you’ve already got a view on them.  That’s vibes.

It’s just as true in the FMCG world.  Shoppers have a view on retailers.  Whether they shop there regularly or not.  Shoppers have a view on brands.  Whether they buy the brand regularly or not.

That’s why there can be a ‘vibes theory of FMCG’.  Yes, substance is important.  Price.  Quality.  Convenience.  But as important is style.  The vibes you are giving shoppers.

So, how can you give shoppers the right vibes?

Words.  If you’re in a category where product performance is really important (e.g. laundry), your messaging needs to signal performance.  If you’re in a category where taste is really important (e.g. food, drinks), your messaging need to signal taste and enjoyment.

The words you choose can make a big difference.  Think fabric conditioners.  Fragrance has always been important.  The right words can dramatise this for shoppers.  Comfort talks about “perfume for your clothes.”  They’re giving shoppers fine fragrance vibes.  Lenor Outdoorable says “Fresh! As is if dried outside.”  They’re giving shoppers freshness vibes.

It’s not just about what you say.  It’s also about how you say it.  Many P&G brands take a direct and quantifiable approach.  Fairy “Lasts twice as long.”  Tide “Does 3x the loads.”  A brand like Oatly has a more conversational approach “wow no cow,” “thanks milk – we’ll take it from here.”

Ask yourself are your words giving shoppers the right vibes?

Visuals.  Go into a Pret and take a look around.  Their visuals reinforce freshness.  Take a look at most Coca Cola communication.  Their visuals reinforce refreshment.  Take a look at Red Bull.  Their visuals reinforce energy.

We process visuals better than words.  This is particularly true for shoppers in a busy retail environment.  A message like “taste joy” is important for an ice cream brand.  But a visual showing a joyful face eating an ice cream is even more important.  In fact, a great visual often doesn’t need any words to go with it.  Samsonite can show a baby holding a suitcase above their head.  You don’t need any words to say the luggage is light.

Ask yourself – are your visuals giving shoppers the right vibes?

Body Language.  A retail environment is full of body language.  It can come through displays.  Think Pipers Crisps wooden display units.  It can come through merchandising and fixturisation.  Think baskets in produce.  It can come through primary packaging.  Think Tea Pigs.  It can come through shelf ready and outer packaging.  Think Peroni.

However body language isn’t just relevant for more premium products.  It is relevant for all products.  If you’re about snacking, you need to reinforce with the body language of snacking.  If you’re about convenience, you need to reinforce with the body language of convenience.  If you’re about value, you need to reinforce with the body language of value.

So, ask yourself is your body language giving shoppers the right vibes?

The FMCG battle is often a battle of vibes.  The signals you are giving shoppers.

To win you need to give shoppers the right ones.

Before we go, this is your regular reminder that we have launched the Insight Traction Knowledge Bank. It is our new subscription service for FMCG companies and retailers.

It gives you instant access to the best of our images of great shopper activities, presentations about winning with shoppers and every blog we’ve written. Easy to search, filter and download. 

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