Knowledge Bank Blog, Category Strategy, Finding New Ideas, Channel Execution

The Importance of Fit

On 8th October 2012 the film ‘Lincoln’ premiered at the New York Film Festival.

It covers the final four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life. A time that was spent trying to get the 13th Amendment (to abolish slavery) passed by the US House of Representatives.

The film was a commercial success. Grossing over $275m at the box office. It was also a critical success. Nominated for twelve Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.

Day-Lewis went on to win the Oscar. In doing so, he became the first person to win the Best Actor Oscar three times. The same month he featured on the cover of Time magazine as “The World’s Greatest Actor”.

It’s fair to say Day-Lewis put a bit of work into the role of Lincoln. He spent a year in preparation. He read over 100 books on Lincoln. He spoke in Lincoln’s voice throughout the entire shoot. He asked the British crew members who shared his native accent not to talk to him.

nnSteven Spielberg, who directed Lincoln, said “I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. I never asked Daniel about his process. I didn’t want to know”.

Shortly after winning the Oscar, Day-Lewis announced he would be taking a five year break from acting. He was true to his word. He next appeared in the film Phantom Thread in 2017. Getting nominated again for the Best Actor Oscar.

Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t do many films. But when he does, he does them properly.

Why are we talking about this? In our last blog (well done if you remember…) we talked about “Behaviour Led Growth”. Taking a more structured approach to looking at potential growth opportunities. This approach helps you identify the things you could be doing.

This time, we wanted to go a step further. To talk about identifying the things you should be doing. To do this, you need to think about FIT. Identifying the opportunities that have a good FIT with your category and brand. The things that you are best placed to go after.

The things that, when you do them, you can do them properly.

So how can you do this?

Think about Channel Fit. Let’s take eCommerce as an example. There is no shortage of opportunities. You can sell through online grocers. You can sell through Amazon. You can sell through delivery services (e.g. Deliveroo). You can sell direct to consumers. However, the fit with each of these opportunities will differ by category and brand.

If you’re a bulky category (e.g. bottled water, detergent) that is bought as part of a regular grocery trip then you have a strong fit with online grocery. If you’re a category that people spend quite a lot on over a regular purchase cycle (e.g. nappies, razors & blades, coffee) then you have a strong fit with direct to consumer. If you’re a category that is more impulsive (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, alcohol) then you may have a strong fit with a 30 minute delivery service. Don’t go after all the opportunities. Go after the ones where you have the best fit.

Think about Retailer Fit. There are two main ways to think about this. First, in which retailers do you currently over trade? These are likely to be the retailers where you have a strong fit. With their proposition. With the shoppers who shop there. These are the retailers where you should prioritise activities. The ones where they have the best chance of succeeding. A current example is Charlie Bigham’s new pudding range. They have launched into Waitrose and Ocado first. Where the brand has the best fit. Establish then grow. Rather than trying to grow and risk never getting established.

Second, what are retailers prepared to do? For instance, which is the retailer most prepared to try new and different things at the moment? We’d definitely say Sainsbury’s. Reimagining aisles (e.g. health & wellbeing). Discover Zones for new products. Sacrificing shelf space to support new product communication. Showcasing new and innovative brands. Try things in the retailers who are most likely to say “yes”.

Think about Brand Fit. A key trend in recent years has been for brands to move beyond their ‘home’ category into new categories. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should (looking at you, Lynx Africa & Marmite collaboration). You need to think about the fit of your brand with the category you are looking to enter. A great example of doing this well is Bonne Maman. They have expanded into adjacent categories – yoghurts, desserts, biscuits, cakes. They’ve done so in a way that is instantly recognisable as Bonne Maman. That reinforces the Bonne Maman proposition.

We see a similar trend around new benefits. Many brands (across categories) seem to be in a benefits race. Take one example – sleep. You have vitamins, drinks, personal care products all offering ‘sleep’ benefits. If you used all the products promoting sleep wouldn’t have any time left to actually sleep! This is just one example. There are plenty of others. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Do what you are best placed to do.

First look at opportunities. Then look at FIT. Do fewer things and do them properly.

You don’t see Daniel Day-Lewis in a Fast & Furious film.

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