How to win in your category


We work for some of the best brands on the planet. Toothpastes that really do make your teeth whiter, cleaning products that kill all known germs, leave your surfaces shining and mark free and are still environmentally friendly, over-the-counter medicines that really do relieve pain, improve how you feel and improve your life.

The best companies have the best scientists to improve formulations and product performance to keep their products ahead of the competition.

But consumers do not always buy the ‘best’ products. They are not scientists and do not have lab facilities to test products to prove to themselves which are the ‘best’.

Consumers buy a product because they believe in it. This is an emotional response to the brand, not a rational one.

Improving the performance of a product is rarely a bad thing to do, but it is invariably not the best way to improve brand performance.

Consumers will feel better about your brand not because it does an even better job, but because they believe that it does.

Understanding the factors that prompt consumers to believe is at least as important as understanding how to improve product performance.

Targeting consumer belief can be a far more effective – and less expensive – way to improve brand performance.

The appearance, the aroma, the taste (but not for a bleach), the way it makes the consumer feel when using it, the after effect. Each aspect of the brand’s communication and the product in use prompts an emotional reaction in the consumer. This is not a single emotion but a whole series of emotions that take the consumer on an Emotional Journey through their experience of the brand.

This Emotional Journey is the essence of your brand. It is this that differentiates your brand from others in the category, it is this Emotional Journey that prompts consumer belief or otherwise.

Each element of your communications and product delivery will prompt different parts of this Emotional Journey. Sometimes elements of the product that have nothing to do with its efficacy – such as colour, aroma, taste or feel – can have a significant effect upon the consumer’s emotional response.

Your product may be the most effective in the category, but if it is the wrong colour, or its aroma is just slightly off, this may have a significant affect upon its success. Get the consumers’ Emotional Journey right and you may find yourself leading the category despite being behind on actual product performance.

Targeting consumer belief, targeting their emotional response to your brand and product performance, can be a far more effective – and less expensive – way to improve brand performance.

Chris Lukehurst is a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional responses.