Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Shopper Communication

Start With the Hook

Are you creating the right first impression?

Have a think about the songs in your music collection.

It is likely that many of them follow a very similar structure.   Short intro.  First verse.  Bridge.  Chorus.  Second verse.  Bridge.  Chorus.  Repeat the chorus a few times.  End.  Historically, most songs followed this structure – start slow, build to the chorus.

But, not everyone did that.  Nile Rodgers & Chic turned that structure on its head.  They started with the chorus.

This is how Nile Rodgers describes it.  “Chic songs don’t sound like anybody else.  To most artists, the chorus is the pay off.  But we thought, if it’s so good, why don’t we just give it to you straight away?  Why don’t we just go ‘1-2 awwwww Freak Out’?  By starting the song with the hook, it almost guaranteed us a place on somebody’s playlist”.

What Chic pioneered in the 70’s, is now followed by a lot of songwriters.  In a world of music streaming and short social media clips, if you don’t catch attention instantly, people move on to the next track or clip.

The old saying is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.  But, let’s be honest.  We all do.  We judge a song in the first couple of seconds of listening to it.  We judge people in the first couple of seconds of meeting them.

First impressions matter.  A lot.

Why are we talking about this?  In our industry, shoppers have never had so many different options to choose from.  There is more choice of what to buy (and where to buy) than ever before.  When making these choices, shoppers are paying relatively little attention.  They often judge packs with a glance, messages with a quick scan, product quality with the first taste.

Many of the activities in the industry – NPD launches, shopper marketing activities, promotions – have limited time to make an impact.  A new product launch might have a 3-4 week window to drive awareness and trial.  So first impressions really matter.

We think there are 3 types of first impressions.  So, what are they and how can you influence them?

The first time shoppers see the product.  This is about stand out – to make a good first impression, you have to be seen.  It’s about visual identity.  It’s about simplicity and clarity – arguably even more important online in a world of quick scrolling.  It’s about the body language of a pack – if you are about health, is your pack signaling healthiness?  It’s about messaging – if low fat is important in the category, is 0% fat the first thing shoppers see?

The first time shoppers use the product.  Exactly the same product can lead to two very different usage experiences.  Think about tea.  If you are making a cup of normal black tea, how long should you leave the bag in for?  What about green tea?  What about a fruit infusion?  What you do can lead to a very different taste experience.  It can be the difference between the rest of the green tea bags being used or the box sitting in the cupboard for the next 3 years.

It’s the same for many foods.  Do you get a better result in the oven, stir frying or in the microwave? If there is a difference (and for many foods there is) give shoppers direction.  Don’t just tell them what the options are, tell them what they should do.  Don’t assume they know.  Don’t assume they will select the best option.  Coca Cola still say “best served chilled”.

The first time shoppers receive the product.  This is a third moment of truth that is becoming increasingly important as more shopping moves online.  Did the delivery turn up on time?  Did I get everything I asked for?  Did the product arrive in good condition?  Is this the product I would have picked myself?  Is the use-by-date good enough?

A chilled product that turns up with squashed packaging and two days of shelf life is not a good first impression.  This experience could be the difference between a shopper becoming a regular, loyal online buyer or not.  It could be the difference between a shopper buying that category or brand online again or not.  A key question – are you arriving in the condition that you want to arrive in?

Make the wrong first impression and you may never get the chance to make a better second impression.

Start your song with the hook.

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