Knowledge Bank Blog, Finding New Ideas, Pricing & Promotions, Shopper Communication

Same Choice Different Outcome

Imagine you are at a posh restaurant.

There is a fish course.  You have 2 options.  You could have (a) the Patagonian Toothfish or (b) the Chilean Sea Bass.

Which would you order?

Most likely you chose the Chilean Sea Bass, right?

Actually it doesn’t matter which you chose.  You’d end up eating exactly the same thing.  The ‘Chilean Sea Bass’ is the ‘Patagonian Toothfish’ rebranded.

The Patagonian Toothfish is ugly.  Big eyes.  Big mouth.  Full of big teeth.  When fisherman caught it they threw it back because they knew they wouldn’t be able to sell it.

This was until Lee Lantz, an American wholesaler, went to Chile looking for new fish.  He tasted the Patagonian Toothfish.  It tasted great.

He knew it was too ugly to serve whole.  But you could serve it as a fillet.  Diners would only see the flesh not the whole fish.  First problem solved.

Then there was the other problem.  The name.  Nobody wants to order something called a Patagonian Toothfish.  So, he renamed it.  He called it the Chilean Sea Bass.  Second problem solved.

Now a fish that used to be thrown back into the sea was on the menu of all the top restaurants.  At a premium price.

Same choice.  Different outcome.

Why are we talking about this?  If you want to drive growth in our industry, you need to influence shopper choices.  The choice of which retailer to shop at.  Which categories to buy.  Which brands to buy.

Shoppers are often buying a lot of products in a limited time.  They don’t have the time (or inclination) to make fully considered choices.  To compare all the products.  To read everything a brand tells them.  To do the maths on a promotion.

So, they make quick, simple judgements about what to buy.

This means that they are very influenced by how choices are presented.  Exactly the same choice can be presented in different ways and lead to different outcomes.

The FMCG equivalent of the Patagonian Toothfish and Chilean Sea Bass.

So, how can you turn the same choices into different outcomes?

Inputs vs Outputs.  One way of framing a choice is based on inputs.  Which product has the best ingredient?  Or best vitamin?  Or best molecule?  It matters to you so you think it matters to shoppers. But most shoppers aren’t buying the ingredient, vitamin or molecule.  They are looking to buy the benefit.

Another way of framing the choice is based on outputs.  The end benefit your product delivers.  The end taste benefit of the ingredient.  The end health benefit of the vitamin.  The end beauty benefit of the molecule.  Inputs are important in the laboratory or factory.  Outputs are important at the shelf.

Same choice.  Different outcome.

Price vs Value.  One way of framing a choice is based on price.  Product A is cheaper than Product B.  There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two.  So, shoppers buy Product A.  If the main difference is price you would, right?

Another way of framing the choice is based on value.  Product A is still cheaper than Product B.  But now Product B gives shoppers a compelling reason to pay a little more.  It performs better.  Or it lasts longer.  Or you need to use it less.  Sure, some shoppers will still make a choice on price.  But many more will now make one based on value.

Same choice.  Different outcome.

Rational vs Emotional.  One way of framing a choice is rational.  Giving shoppers a list of reasons why they should buy your product.  All the stuff you said in the concept test a year ago.  Lots of consumers said they’d buy it.  Of course they did.  They had time to read everything.  They didn’t have to pay for it.

Another way of framing the choice is more emotional.  Reflecting the short amount of time in which shoppers decide.  A more emotional message. More emotional imagery.  That triggers an impulse to buy.  Think of the classic Wall’s communication.  A message saying “Taste Joy” with a visual of a joyful face eating an ice cream.  See that and you’re craving an ice cream.

Same choice.  Different outcome.

In our industry we often think we need to do more of the big things.  That offer shoppers something completely different.

When often what we really need to do is more of the small things.  That reframe the choice for shoppers.

Like changing the name of a fish.

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. 

If you’d like to know more, simply email 

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