Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

How to Speak to Shoppers #5

This is the last in the series of blogs we’ve been sharing on How to Speak to Shoppers.

If you want help developing shopper communication based on the principles we are talking about please get in touch.

Right, onto the blog…

The Power of Consistency

The comedian Jimmy Carr tells a story…

I got a call from my manager. She said it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on Saturday.

What’s that got to do with me, I asked.

They need some comedians to do little bits between the performing artists at the concert on the Mall. You just need to do 5 minutes while they change the drum kit for Grace Jones.

How could I say no to that?

The day arrived. I got on stage. But what I wasn’t expecting was to be able to see the Queen. She was front and centre.

I opened by saying, “Everyone is really nervous backstage, because we’re going to meet the Queen later, and what’s the etiquette?”

And I said, looking directly at the Queen, “Just call me Mr Carr.”

A few hours later I’m getting drunk at the party and there’s a tap on my shoulder. I knew I didn’t belong there. A tap on the shoulder means I’m getting kicked out, right?

It was Prince William. He reached out his hand and said, “Mr Carr.”

Why are we talking about Jimmy Carr? Well, firstly, we like the story.

Secondly, and most importantly, the story of Jimmy Carr is a story of consistency.

He started his career working in Marketing at Shell. He was quite good at it. But he was better at being funny. So, he left Shell and started doing stand-up.

He did show after show after show. Night after night after night. Developing his style. Honing his craft.

Until he’s dropping one liners in front of the Queen.

But he didn’t stop there. He’s widely known as the hardest working comedian in the business.

He’s still gigging. 6 days a week. Most weeks of the year.

Consistency got him to the top. Consistency has kept him at the top.

Consistency is just as important to success in the FMCG world. BUT it is massively undervalued.

Who wants to be the brand manager that doesn’t change the pack? Doesn’t mess with the messaging? Doesn’t launch the new flavour?

Nobody. So, the pack gets changed. The messaging gets changed. The new flavour gets launched.

We get bored so we assume that shoppers get bored.

But they don’t. They don’t pay enough attention to get bored. To them, the more consistent you are the better.

So, what does true shopper consistency mean?

It means design consistency. A range that is instantly recognisable. Glance at a product and shoppers immediately know what brand it is. Bonne Maman are masters of this. They are now in a lot of categories. In every category they look different to everything else around them and look the same as every other Bonne Maman product.

Communication that is instantly recognisable. Glance at a 6 sheet or some POS material and you immediately know what brand it is. Cadburys are masters of this. You know they are when they can use POS communication without any words.

It means consistency across touchpoints. TV ads. Print. Social Media. Display Units. POS communication. Packaging. That reinforce the same visual cues. That reinforce the same core messaging. Where possible, the same words. Where not, the same theme. That reinforce your tone of voice. Innocent is always going to be conversational. Fairy Liquid is always going to be functional.

Pick your lane. Then stay in it.

It means consistency over time. Time doesn’t mean a campaign. It doesn’t mean until the next brand manager takes over. It means campaign after campaign. Brand manager after brand manager. The point when you are absolutely bored of communicating the same thing is the point at which it is just starting to work.

Actimel is the benchmark. They never get tired of talking about immune support.

At the year-end awards the consistency (“no new ideas”) award is about as welcome as the most improved player (“you were really s*** before”) award.

But it’s the award you should want to win. That drives long term success.

Just ask Mr Carr.

If you’d like a pdf version of the How to Speak to Shoppers series, please email

We’re taking a break over the festive period to demonstrate our consistency in always eating one mince pie too many. We’ll be back in the New Year.

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