Using psychology to understand Category Entry Points

Knowledge of Category Entry Points is becoming an increasingly important addition to the modern Brand Owner’s tool kit. If we understand the reasons, motivations, triggers, and occasions that prompt consumers to buy into our category, we can position our brand to capitalise upon these. To be communicating the right message and to be in the right place at the right time.

Who can argue with the logic and the potential power of getting this right and I see considerable effort and expenditure going into qualitative and quantitative research to understand Category Entry Points.

Unfortunately, much of this will produce mediocre results. Standard research methods produce standard results at best. They give you a clearer understanding of reasons, motivations, triggers, occasions etc. but only at a surface level and they will give you no greater understanding than your competition are also gaining. So, all that time and effort will serve you well in keeping up with you competitors but not in getting ahead of them.

The problem is that while ‘why, when, how, where, with whom/what and while’ may sound like rational, assessable questions to which you can come up with quantified and qualified answers, the truth is that most Category Entry Points, the things that really prompt consumers to move into your category or choose your brand are invariably more subtle, more subliminal than the answers that consumers tend to give to researchers.

Consumers are not rational beings, their actions are generally not thought out. They act on impulse, they buy what they are familiar with. Kahneman called it System 1 thinking – automatic fast and with little or no effort.

If you are really to understand Category Entry Points you need to understand the rational top of mind reasons that consumers give you, but you also need to go much deeper into their subliminal thoughts. Those emotional memories, hopes, desires and imaginings that they are less inclined to talk about, but are the real drivers of choice.

A professional Psychometric analysis of their lifetime involvement with the category and with the key brands within it will start to give you a much clearer picture of what prompts consumers to enter the category, to come back again and again and to choose specific brands within the category.

Understanding consumers’ emotional journeys into and around the category sheds a much brighter light on why they are there, what they are seeking when they are there and how you can best meet their emotional as well as their rational needs. How you can present your brand experience in a way that encourages them not only to come back into the category but to seek out your brand every time they do.

Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands