Shopper Communication, Knowledge Bank Blog, New Product Launches, Pricing & Promotions, Range & Portfolio

The “WHAT” AND The “HOW”

Have you made any New Year resolutions?

For those of you that have, they are likely to have a common theme.

You are likely to have focused on the WHAT. “I’m going to exercise more.” “I’m going to drink less.” “I’m going to read more books.” “I’m going to spend less time on social media.”

You are much less likely to have focused on the HOW. How are you going to exercise more? Are you going to run or cycle or do weights? Are you going to do it on your own or in classes? How often are you going to do it each week? Which days? What time of day?

We are all good at the WHAT, because it is easy. It is easy to say that you are going to exercise more.

We are bad at the HOW. Because it is hard. It is harder to say exactly how you are going to exercise more.

But the HOW is key to success. The HOW gives you the means to achieve the WHAT.

The absence of the HOW is the reason most New Year resolutions fail before the end of January.

Why are we talking about this? In our industry we are great at setting out the WHAT. There are strategies with lots of WHATs. There are marketing briefs with lots of WHATs. There are customer, channel and brand plans with lots of WHATs.

These are often at a high level. We want to increase penetration. They are often too vague. We want to differentiate more. They are often too motherhood. We need to have the right range. Who doesn’t?

But we are bad at the HOWs. Setting out the key things we are going to do to get there.

It’s like the annual New Year resolution cycle. Except it takes us a lot longer to realise that we’re not going to achieve what we hoped.

So how can you move from being good at the WHAT to being good at the HOW?

Range & Tiering. You say, “we need clearer tiering.” Yep, you do. But HOW? What are the principles that will get you there? One principle might be “to have a clear & common way of signalling tiers to shoppers.”

Great. Now ask which categories or brands can you learn from? Well, you can learn from Laundry. They do it (a) by brand – private label, mainstream brands, premium brands (b) by format – powder, liquid, unit dose (capsules, pods).

Then use this to build the HOWs for your category or brand.

Promotions. You say, “we need to make our promotions more effective.” Yep, you do. But HOW? What are the principles that will get you there? One principle might be “our promoted price will always remain above X.”

Great. Now ask which categories or brands can you learn from? Well, you could learn from Peroni. They have been promoting more frequently over time. But they never go below £1 a bottle and you always get a better price per bottle, the more bottles you buy.

Then use this to build the HOWs for your category or brand.

New Products. You say, “we need to make our new product launches more successful.” Yep, you do. But HOW? What are the principles that will get you there? One principle might be “use existing products to drive awareness of the new product.”

Great. Now ask which categories or brands can you learn from? Well, you could learn from Heinz. They often put stickers on the front of lead products (e.g. Ketchup) to drive awareness and trial of new products (e.g. mustard, garlic, burger sauces).

Then use this to build the HOWs for your category or brand.

Communication. You say, “we need to communicate value to shoppers.” Yep, you do. But HOW? What are the principles that will get you there? One principle might be “give shoppers a simple value shortcut.”

Great. Now ask which categories or brands can you learn from? Well, you could learn from Fairy Liquid. They constantly reinforce a “lasts longer” message. A simple shortcut to reassures shoppers that it is worth paying more for.

Then use this to build the HOWs for your category or brand.

Take a look at your strategies and plans. They may have the WHAT, but do they have the HOW? If not, they need it.

And so do your New Year resolutions. If it’s not too late already…

Feel free to forward. Have a great weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.