Knowledge Bank Blog, Finding New Ideas

Winning at Shelf : Seeing What the Shopper Sees

How common is common sense?

Over the last few weeks, we have been writing about Winning at Shelf.  We have had some great feedback on these blogs.

A lot of what we have talked about sounds fairly simple and common sense.  We think that is partly about how you express it, something only becomes simple, once someone has said it, and partly because much of it is, indeed, common sense.

However, though much of it sounds simple, a lot of the principles we talk about are often not reflected in activities at shelf.  We think that a number of the things that happen in companies (e.g. systems, processes, incentives, culture) can often work against the application of common sense, rather than for it.

So, how can companies get past this, and apply some of the principles that we have been talking about, to win at shelf?

Firstly, we need to be better at seeing what the shopper sees.  We are all too close to our categories and our brands.  We see everything there is to see about them.  However, shoppers don’t see things in that way.  Life is too short to study every product in the supermarket in minute detail!

We need to be better at looking at things through the shopper’s eyes.  Asking ourselves a few simple, objective questions about how they are experiencing our brands in store.  Do we have the right plan to win with shoppers, and are we executing to that plan?

Secondly, we have to be prepared to focus on what appears to be the simple stuff.  There is an interesting tension here.  Most people see the value of simplicity.  Yet, they don’t want to do simple things themselves.  Our industry typically rewards new, clever, creative thinking.  Innovation and Advertising Awards appear on CVs, not the time we managed to move our brand from Shelf A to Shelf B.  Even though, the latter often delivers more sales.

There are typically 2 types of company who do simplicity best.  Big multinationals, that have to make sure the same thing, is executed in the same way, in multiple markets.  Or smaller, more entrepreneurial companies, that may not get a second chance with launches.  If you only have one chance, you had better make sure you focus on the simple, important stuff.

Finally, we have to know what to do and we have to do what we know!  Most companies don’t have a simple, consistent way of distilling knowledge on what is important to shoppers, and then using that to direct and assess their key activities before they get executed – whether that means merchandising, POS, Packaging, NPD.  Too often they are wise after the event.  Much better to be wise before it.

We have a number of tools that help companies distil and apply shopper insight much more consistently.  We can help companies deliver against the key Shopper principles, to win in store.  Let us know if you want to hear more.

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.