It is true in almost every aspect of our modern lives and no more so than for the products and brands that we manage. We must constantly move forward to keep up with our consumers and to stay ahead of our competitors. As brand owners we must be agile, quick on our feet. We need to make decisions fast and follow them through with urgency.
Brand Managers, Marketing Managers, Product Developers… are rewarded for fast efficient actions, but all too often that reward, the promotion to a bigger brand, often means that they are not around to witness the mess that often results from fast, efficient but wrong decisions.
Don’t skip the Research and Analysis stage
The established Brand Management process starts with research, analysis and diagnosis before moving on to strategy and execution. Unfortunately, all too often, the need for speed combines with the availability of ample data to convince brand owners that they are completing the research, analysis and diagnosis stage by simply looking through the data and jumping to their own conclusions about what is happening and why.
Once they have convinced themselves that they understand the market and they have dug out the appropriate stats to support their view to their colleagues and bosses, they can move onto the sexier side of branding, strategy and execution (or more often tactics and execution).
It is fast, but even when the results are not disastrous for the brand, it rarely drives sustainable medium- or long-term growth.
It is only when we Understand the Psychology and Emotions of our Consumers that we really start to Understand our Brands.
The quantitative data tells us what is happening, but in order to understand why that is happening and to start to imagine the best ways forward we need to spend just a little time researching the drivers of our consumers decisions. The whys and hows of their decision making. It is only when we understand the psychology and emotions of our consumers that we really start to understand our brands.
It does require a little time, but not as much as most expect. It does require some investment, but how much would even a 1% uplift or drop-off in your brand sales be worth?
And on a completely different level, how much more would you enjoy what you do if you really understood the levers of your brand and you saw the results as you tweaked the right levers at the right times.
Understanding the Psychology and Emotional Journeys of a Snack Brand
We did a project recently for a significant UK snacking brand. It is one of those brands that everyone knows, almost everyone eats and yet is unlikely to feature in many consumers’ top ten favourite brands. Not because they don’t like it but because it is so every day that they don’t think about it.
Akin to most in this market they are feeling the pressure from all angles. At one end more indulgent brands are encroaching into their traditional space, whilst at the other end more health-conscious consumers are dropping out of the category. Supermarket own brands are copying their products, whilst at the same time new products and well supported American “icons” are disrupting, but not really growing, the market.
Our client wanted to understand the psychology and emotional journeys of their consumers. They wanted to understand how, in the eyes of the consumer, they were different from the competition and what, if anything, the new competitors were bringing to the market. They wanted to know how they could strengthen their position in their traditional market, how they could compete more strongly against own brands and new competitors and how they could expand into adjacent markets.
We explored the mood shift consumers experienced when eating our client’s product versus the mood shift elicited from the competitors. Once it became clear how our product was differentiated from the competitors, product development directions became clearer and, most importantly, it became apparent why product developments in one specific direction were not working.
It was all quite clear in hindsight. Once we understood the mood shift that consumers were getting from the snacks, including some of the subtleties and limits of that mood shift, it became clear how to communicate the products against the competition and what types of new products they should be launching under the brand name – and, equally important, which they should not.
And it really did not take that long or cost that much.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Understanding the connections between the consumer experience