Knowledge Bank Blog, Finding New Ideas

The Real Why

What are the real reasons that you do things?

Why do you do what you do?

Don’t worry.  We are not asking you to get on the psychiatrist’s couch and go back to the time you weren’t invited to a 4th birthday party.

What we are asking is, what are the real reasons why you do things, versus the reasons that you tell yourself?  Often these are very different.

For instance, posting a picture on Instagram.  The ‘why’ you tell yourself might be “this food is so great I should take a picture of it and show everyone else how great it is”.  However, the ‘real why’ is probably “this is a really swanky restaurant, I want everyone to know I’m here”.

We do this when we speak too.  We tell ourselves that by using the phrase “with all due respect to X…” we are offering them respect.  But in truth, any sentence that starts with that phrase is a way of giving you permission to totally disrespect them.

In all parts of life, there are real reasons why we do things and the reasons that we tell ourselves why we do things.

So, why are we talking about this? Well uncovering the real why has always been a big part of properly understanding consumer and shopper behaviour.  For instance, all the people who bought Harry Potter books will tell you about the quality of the plot, writing and characters.  What they won’t tell you is that the real reason they bought the books was that everyone else was buying them.

We think something similar happens with activities in our industry – whether that is launching new products, the promotions that are run or the communication that is developed.  There are the reasons that we tell ourselves and other people why we are doing these activities – to frame them in the most effective way.  Then there are the real reasons why we do them.

So, what are some examples?

The Frame =  “there is a real consumer need for this product”. The Real Why = “we can make this product”.

The Frame = “shoppers are looking for more choice in this category”.  The Real Why = “we are trying to protect shelf space”.

The Frame = “this can really help drive category growth”. The Real Why = “this can help us win brand share”.

The Frame = “this product segment can really grow”.  The Real Why = “our competitors launched it, we need to launch something similar”.

The Frame = “it is important to make shoppers aware of all the product benefits”.  The Real Why = “we can’t decide which is the most important thing to communicate”.

The Frame = “this new product can command a price premium”.  The Real Why = “let’s recommend a premium price so we have a high base from which to promote”.

The Frame = “this promotion will give shoppers real value”.  The Real Why = “we’ve got a sales gap we need to fill”.

We’re sure you can think of many more.

There is a serious point to all this.  The ‘real whys’ are typically short term reasons for doing things.   They often work in the short term – the extra promotion does fill a sales gap – and, if your main worry is the short term, that may be OK.  For a while…

However, the real reasons that we should be doing things are the reasons that help us in the longer term.  To develop genuine innovation that drives category growth.  To have a promotional strategy that gives shoppers value and protects category value.  To recommend base prices that products can justify and shoppers will buy at.

The frame shouldn’t be a frame. It should be the real why.

Next time you say “with all due respect to…” you could actually mean it.

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