Knowledge Bank Blog, Pricing & Promotions, Range & Portfolio

The Reframe

Are you looking at things in the right way?

Look at the picture above. What did you see? The old woman or the young woman? If you saw the old woman, look again, can you see the young woman? And if you saw the young woman, can you see the old woman? And if you didn’t see either are you sure you’re looking at the right picture?

You will have seen examples like this, perhaps this particular example, before. Exactly the same thing can be seen in two different ways depending on how you look at it.

This happens all the time in life. Our frame of reference influences what we see. Or particularly, how we interpret it. It’s a blatant penalty if your team is attacking. It’s clearly a dive if your team is defending.

Tap the word ‘insight’ into google images and you will get a lot of light bulb pictures. However, insight is rarely the flash of inspiration that comes out of nowhere. It is often the result of a simple change in the assumptions that we make. Change the assumption(s) and you start seeing things in a very different way.

This is particularly relevant for our industry. Competition is intense. We are all looking for small advantages (well, ideally big ones, but most of us would settle for small!) that give us the edge over the competition. That will make your store more likely to be visited by shoppers or your brand more likely to be bought.

To come up with these advantages you often have to think differently. Doing the same things you’ve always done is going to give you the same results. Possibly, worse results. One of the keys to thinking differently is reframing. Reframing the problem you are looking to address or the objective you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, just reframing the assumptions you make in the first place – why are we doing this activity?

As Peter Drucker, the management guru, once said “if you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”.

So, how could reframing help with some of the challenges you face or activities you do?

Product Mix. Typical Frame = How do I get more shoppers to change their behaviour to buy my product? Reframe = How do I adapt my product to fit with their behaviour?

Many more traditional categories, segments or products face this challenge. If you are a food that is typically eaten as part of a traditional meat & 2 veg meal, you are unlikely to get growth by encouraging more people to eat those meals. You are much more likely to get growth by adapting your product to make it a great fit with rice or pasta dishes. The things people are eating more of.

John West has been a good example of this in recent years. If you think you are in the canned fish business, you are going to aim to sell as much canned fish as possible. Any innovation is likely to be…canned fish. However, if you reframe this and think you are in the meal solutions business, you will start thinking about very different things – Infusions, Steam Pots, the new Spreadables range.

Product Role. Typical Frame = Our product is the primary purchase. Reframe = Our product is a secondary purchase.

For most of us our job is, quite rightly, to sell more of our product. Because of this, we often think our product is the primary purchase. It’s important to us, so it’s really important to shoppers, the first thing on the list. However, many products are not primary purchases, they are secondary purchases. Pasta sauce is a secondary purchase. Crisps can often be a secondary purchase – you buy them to go with a sandwich at lunchtime.

Even water can be a secondary purchase. We’ve seen great POS in coffee shops talking about ‘coffee for now, water for later’. Don’t compete, and probably lose, in the primary purchase. Win by being the secondary purchase.   Being a secondary purchase is OK. In fact it can lead to a lot of opportunities.   Opportunities you may not have found if you didn’t think in this way.

Key Activities – e.g. Promotions. Typical Frame = The incentive to buy is a price discount. Reframe = The incentive to buy is a (non price) benefit.

It is little wonder that 99% of FMCG promotional activities are based on some form of price discount. When we think about promotional plans that is our default – what mechanic, what level of discount, how frequent?

However, as soon as you reframe this, you think in a very different way. What if the promotional activity was an incentive to engage with our brand? Innocent’s ‘Big Knit’, Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’, Walkers ‘Do us a Flavour’ – all non price driven initiatives that shifted a lot of units. And drove engagement with the brand.

To think differently we need to start at the start. Our first assumption is usually the one that directs the rest of our thinking. What if you changed that assumption?

It may feel like a risk. But perhaps the biggest risk is not doing it?

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