Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication

The Small Details

What are the small details for your product?

In many things in life it is the small details that count.  The signs that something is good or that people care.  Take the free ice creams on Virgin flights.  Nobody is going to say ‘let’s fly Virgin because they bring round free ice cream’, but the ice cream is one of a few small details that add up.  They act as positive signals for the overall experience, which together can drive the choice of which airline to use next time.

So many of the decisions we make about what to buy are driven by smaller, often more emotional, signals.  These signals have a disproportionate effect on the overall feeling about a product or service.  They can work for you or against the product or service. Get them right and you win.  Get them wrong and, no matter how good the actual quality of your product, or the price point at which you are selling, you will probably lose.

The shopping process, particularly grocery shopping, is complex – lots of products and information all competing for attention.  Often the only way for shoppers to deal with this complexity is to use simple rules of thumb or signals to judge things.  These signals help determine whether a product is worth buying or worth paying more for.  Quality perception is driven as much by how a product looks as how it tastes or performs.

So, what are some of the small details in FMCG?  What are some of the things that can work for you?

Quality Visual Cues.  For instance, garnish, herbs or rubs on a piece of meat. Like the restaurant that drizzles some raspberry coulis on the dessert plate and charges you £2 extra for the privilege, it can make you look so much better and will probably allow you to charge quite a bit more.

Pack Usability.  For instance, ease of opening, re-sealing and usage.  Would you pay 50p more for a re-sealable pack of frozen peas?  Many shoppers would.  And once you have bought it once, will you go back to a traditional pack? Probably not.

Descriptions.  How much is the word ‘pulled’ before pork or chicken worth?  Quite a lot.  How much is the word ‘Saucy’ worth to the ‘Saucy Fish Co’ in terms of quality perception and potential price point?  Quite a lot.

Language & Tone.  Any language expert will tell you that how you say things is as important as what you say.  Innocent were the pioneers of a more informal, irreverent tone on pack, which has now bred a lot of copycats.   However you do it, though, talking in a slightly different way from everything around you on shelf, can make a big difference.

What about some of the small details that can work against you?

In food, it could be the colour, shape or cut of the product.  It could be squashed or dented packaging – the supply chain and replenishment process is not always as kind to our products as we’d like it to be.

It could be the tester in Personal Care that has lots of residue on the dispenser.  That acts as a barrier to testing and trial, but also signals that this is what the product is going to look like in your bathroom in a couple of weeks time.

Or it could be SRP that is torn, or has to be torn, in order to access the product.  The harder a product is to access, the more you are implicitly saying to the shopper ‘don’t touch’.

So, yes it is still crucial to focus on the big things.  The quality of your product and the price point it is sold at – the things that play to the rational part of the shopper’s mind.  But also pay enough attention to the small details.  The implicit cues you are giving shoppers, that signal that you are worth buying or worth paying more for.

That sprinkling of herbs may be worth a lot more than you think.

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