Knowledge Bank Blog, Pricing & Promotions, Shopper Communication, Channel Execution

Overrated vs Underrated Pt 2

Are you selling in the right way?

Last week we talked about things that are overrated and underrated.

We used the example of sport – Oakland Athletics & Leicester City – to show how focusing on underrated (but important) factors can lead to big success. This isn’t just true in sport, but in all walks of life, often with significant consequences. An example in the last year has been politics and two names – Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn.

The things that both of them have built campaigns on are completely counter to what most political experts think are the ways to win elections. Surely someone like Trump couldn’t win the Republican nomination? He was underrated for a long time – until he couldn’t be underrated any more. And by that time it was becoming too late. Jeremy Corbyn was so underrated that he only got on the nomination paper for the Labour leadership because some MP’s wanted to have a more open debate. They certainly got one.

In politics, in sport, in life in general, we need to regularly recalibrate. Are the things that we think are important, still as important as we think they are? And are the things that we think are less important, actually more important than we think they are?

This is particularly relevant in our industry. There are a lot of things that get done because we have always done them. Many of them are still the right things to do. But, some of them, less so. Last week we talked about what we sell. This week we want to turn our attention to how we sell.

So, what are the things that we think are overrated and underrated in terms of how we sell?

Overrated = Decision Hierarchies. Underrated = Clear Segmentation & Signage. A lot of time and money is spent on decision hierarchies. What decisions do shoppers make in what order? Yet, we forget, or sometimes ignore, the fact that shoppers rarely stand in front of the shelf going through a step by step decision hierarchy. And even if they did, most “decision tree” outputs have too many variables for them to be translated into a simple, clear shelf layout.

Far better to have a basic understanding of how the category should segment and then spend all your time and energy making it as clear as possible for shoppers. Indeed some simple signage usually does the job better than any decision hierarchy can.

Overrated = Traffic. Underrated = Relevance. When we think about secondary locations in store we tend to focus mostly on traffic – how many shoppers walk past?   And underrate relevance – are we relevant to the shopper at that point in their journey or to what else is around them?

For instance, in our local supermarket, the two main promotional displays at the front of store are to the immediate left and right of the store entrance as you walk in. Now, every shopper walks past them when they enter the store.   But, that is the point. They walk past them. Most shoppers actually have the best chance of seeing them when they leave the store. A bit late, perhaps? Relevance is key – relevant to traffic flow, relevant to the shopper mindset at that point in the journey, relevant to what else is close by. Does your product have an association with the other products around it?

Overrated = Depth of Discount. Underrated = How you Communicate Value. You will all have seen examples of two promotions with the same level of discount, communicated in 2 different ways leading to 2 different uplifts. However, the tendency when we develop promotional plans is to focus most attention on the level of discount and type of mechanic. And, of course, that is important. But how we communicate value – the quality of the display, the value cues we use (colours, words) are often as important, sometimes more important, than the level of discount.

Overrated = Suggesting. Underrated = Telling. There are a lot of clever ways of communicating to shoppers and talking, often in quite subtle ways, about the benefits of different products. But if you are trying to drive behaviour change in store and properly get shoppers to understand why they should do something, you often need to tell them. And tell them quite directly. The latest version of Boots communication in Skincare is a great example – using the phrases ‘what the product does’ and ‘how to use it’ – a simple and consistent style of communication using shopper language.

Often the things we write about each week sound obvious. However, it is easy to take for granted the obvious things – of course relevance is important, of course clear signage is important. However, because they are obvious, they often get less attention paid to them. They are underrated.

Lots of people underrated Donald Trump. Look how that is turning out.

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.