Knowledge Bank Blog, Behaviour Change, Range & Portfolio, Shopper Communication

Using Current Products to Sell New Products

Are you maximising existing assets?

Today the new Ed Sheeran album came out.  Who do you think is most likely to buy it?

Well, most likely the people who bought his last album.  Unless the little ginger fella has radically changed his sound, you can be pretty sure that if you liked his previous stuff, you are probably going to like his new stuff.

And if you didn’t like his previous stuff, you can probably relax, safe in the knowledge that you won’t like this much either.

In life, the best predictor of future preferences are past preferences.  This is why the algorithms that the tech companies use are so effective.  Why show people everything, when you can show them the things that you know they are likely to be most interested in?  Amazon can predict which books you will like better than you can.  Netflix can predict which TV shows you will like better than you can.

For a few people this may seem a bit scary.  However, for the majority it builds trust.  If Netflix says I will like this, then I probably will like it.

So, why are we talking about this?  Well, there has been a lot of focus in our industry in recent years on penetration growth.  The theory that brands only really grow by growing their buyer base.  Whether you agree with that theory is one for another time.  For now, let’s just say that having more buyers is a good thing.

But there are different ways that you can get more buyers.  You can take a blanket approach and try to get everyone to buy or shop with you.  Or you can take a more targeted approach and focus on the people who are most likely to buy you.

One of the key ways in which you can do this is to utilise your existing portfolio.  Getting people who buy one of your current products to buy another one of your products – particularly when it is a new product.  For instance, when Innocent launched Veg Pots a few years ago, who were most likely to buy them?  People who were already buying Innocent Smoothies.

So, how can you more effectively use current products to sell new products?

Prime.  We’ve talked before about the 2-3 week activity burst that a new product typically gets.  In many categories that burst of activity is not enough for many shoppers to see the product – even once.   So how can you extend this launch activity?  Well, why not use current products to tell shoppers that a new product is coming?  You can tell shoppers 2-3 months in advance, that the new product is coming.

This plays to the psychology of anticipation – if they are telling me it is coming it must be good, right?  You can also use this method to tell shoppers about changes.  For instance, Higgidy Pies recently put a sticker on current packs to tell shoppers they were about to change their pack design.  Which, if any of you have seen the new design, is just as well, because it is completely different!

Drive Trial.  Heinz have been driving trial recently for their Mayo and Mustard by putting stickers on their Ketchup packs.  There are 3 advantages to doing this.  Firstly, a lot of shoppers buy Heinz Ketchup, so a lot of shoppers have an opportunity to see the communication.  Secondly, Heinz Ketchup is a trusted product – if they make good Ketchup they should make good mustard.  Thirdly, Heinz are utilising their assets.  It will cost them a lot less to put a sticker on their own packs than to buy lots of POS materials.  And they can run the communication for much longer.

Cross Promote.  By this we don’t just mean putting all your products together on a secondary display, but having a more targeted link between two products.  For instance, when Knorr launched Gravy Pots a while ago, they put a money off coupon on their current Stock Pot packs.  This plays to the same points as the Heinz example, but with two additional factors.

First, is the incentive of the coupon.  Behavioural Economics says that once we have something – in this case a money-off coupon – we are much more likely to use it.  We don’t want to miss out on the saving (even if we don’t have a huge desire to buy the new product).  Second, is that this tactic drives two purchases.  Buying the new product is dependent on buying the current product.  You are encouraging shoppers to buy both products not choose between them.

In the modern world, with so many communication platforms and touch points, it can be hard to reach and target the right people.  Yet a lot of brands have access to the right people – current buyers.  They have access to the right assets – their own products.  So, why wouldn’t you use them more?

And if you got nothing else out of this blog, at least you know the new Ed Sheeran album is out today.

You’re welcome, Ed.

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