Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

Saying What You Mean

Are you being clear enough?

Sometimes we say what we mean.  Many times we don’t.  ‘Erm, yes, that sounds interesting’ really means ‘I would never consider it’.  ‘I hate to say I told you so’ really means ‘I love to say I told you so’.  ‘You look like you had a good night’ really means ‘you look absolutely terrible’.

Not saying what you mean used to be all the rage in politics.  In an interview in the late 90’s, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, was asked exactly the same question 12 times by Jeremy Paxman.  He still didn’t give a clear answer.  However, this is changing.  Whatever you think of people like Donald Trump or Nigel Farage, they say what they think.  And they say it in a way – clear, everyday language – that people understand and remember.

So, why are we talking about this?  Well, walk into an average sized supermarket and you will be bombarded with information – price, promotions, point of sale material, packaging – all with multiple messages on them.  A shopper will see, let alone read, only a tiny fraction of these messages.  And the few they do actually see and read, they will spend very little time and attention on.

No matter how clear we think our communication is, it is rarely as clear as it needs to be.  What we see and understand when we are looking at an activity is often not what the shopper sees and understands in store.

This is why we think the current UK re-launch of Coke Zero Sugar and the repackaging of the Coke range, is really interesting.  Genuinely interesting, not ‘interesting…’.  Even one of the biggest and most successful FMCG brands thinks it can make its range and proposition clearer. And what they are doing to make it clearer, offers some learnings for other brands.

So, what are these learnings?

Design Clarity.  Each of the four Coke Variants (classic, life, zero, diet) now feature a large red disc on the packaging.  This is clearly signalling to the shopper that each variant is Coke.  Red will act as the dominant colour to draw shoppers to the brand.  Then each variant has a secondary colour – black for zero, silver for diet – to clearly signal variant.  This ensures the pack design delivers on the 2 main jobs required in store.  Firstly, draw the shopper to your part of the shelf – brand visual identity.  Secondly, make the options within the brand crystal clear – variant identity.

Are your packs clearly delivering on these 2 elements?

Win the Primary Battle.  Coke, like a lot of soft drink manufacturers, have been under fire over sugar.  This is only likely to increase as the UK sugar tax comes into play.  This leads to a big question.  Do you try to protect the sales of Classic Coke?  Or do you accept the fact that Classic Coke sales are likely to fall and do everything you can to make sure that those sales go to other parts of your portfolio?

Coke, undoubtedly with a little nudge from the industry, have chosen the latter.   By more clearly defining the 4 variants under the Coke umbrella, they are saying ‘we have an option for whichever need or preference you have’.   The primary battle is sales of Coke.  The secondary battle is which variant.

Are you fighting the primary or secondary battle?

Absolute Clarity of Message.  We’re sure the team that worked on the initial launch of Coke Zero thought they were communicating no sugar clearly.  However, Coke have said their research showed that half of UK shoppers did not know Coke Zero contained no sugar.  So Coke are spelling it out and have renamed the product ‘Coke Zero Sugar’.

Is ‘Zero Sugar’ clunkier than ‘Zero’?  Probably.  Will a lot more shoppers who see Coke Zero Sugar understand that it contains no sugar?  Definitely.  Is that going to be a really important thing for shoppers to know when making choices about what to buy and drink over the next few years?  Definitely.

Clarity is going to be increasingly important for food and drink products.  But it is no less important for personal care and household products.  Translating science and expertise into simple and compelling information will be key to cutting through and helping shoppers make choices.

It has been said that the first rule of marketing is to make it easy for people to make a decision.  Then the second rule is to give people confidence in that choice.

To do this you need to clarify.  Say what you mean and say it clearly.

It’s a good motto for life.  Well, apart from when you are asked ‘how do I look in this…?’.  We all know the answer to that one, right?

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