The Importance of Repeat

Are you building the habit of buying? What is your favourite one hit wonder?

‘Macarena’ by Los Del Rio? ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ by The Baha Men? ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba? ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Deep Blue Something? There are probably two answers to this question (a) none of them (b) depends how many drinks I’ve had.

The standard definition of a one hit wonder is something that achieves mainstream popularity and success for a very short period of time, often for only one piece of work. The shorter definition is ‘X Factor winner’.

These things, or people, rise quickly. Then they fall just as quickly. Only re-emerging as a trivia answer or in the celebrity jungle. Or at Christmas – a lot of one hit wonders will be attacking your ears over the next couple of weeks.

It is pretty easy to do something once. The qualifier can beat Federer at Wimbledon. Leicester City can win the Premier League. Iceland can beat England. Well that could happen more than once.

But it is much harder to do things more than once. To do things again and again. The greats do this. Federer has won 19 Grand Slam titles. Sir Alex Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles. Madonna had 13 Number 1’s – back when getting to No 1 meant something.

The same applies to our industry. It is easy to get a shopper to buy a product once. Slash your price or run a deep promotion and you will attract a lot of buyers. These buyers will appear in your 52 week penetration figures. And because everyone has been told brand growth is all about penetration, everything looks rosy.

But is it? Yes, you want more buyers. But a large group of shoppers who buy you once on discount are contributing very little to your brand. The quality of shoppers is what is really important. You want shoppers who buy you again and again. Shoppers who buy you at full price, not ones who buy you only on deal.

As you are starting to think about 2018 we’d urge you to think as much about driving repeat as you do about driving penetration. To do things that can build the habit of buying.

So, what does this mean?

Identify the barriers to repeat. What is stopping shoppers from buying the product again? Is it a product performance issue – e.g. taste or efficacy? In which case, address product performance. Is it a price issue – shoppers will buy it on deal but don’t think it is worth paying full price for? In which case, address the value proposition. Is it a usage issue – not easy to use, not relevant for key usage occasions? In which case, address product or pack format.

Deliver repeat focused activities. We’ve talked before about how most promotions reward shoppers for promiscuity (buying a different brand each time) rather than loyalty (buying the same brand each time). So, think about promotional activities that encourage more active participation from the shopper – e.g. ‘Share a Coke’. Think about rewarding shoppers who are loyal to you. This happens in lots of other industries – airlines, coffee shops, fashion – but it happens much less in grocery retail.

Be consistent and patient. This means consistency of message to shoppers. It means backing activities for longer. In our industry we are very quick to move on to the next thing. This happens a lot with NPD. Brands have a rolling NPD plan. This gives them a short window to launch product A because product B is going to be launched in 3 months time. Then product C is coming 3 months after that. Resources get spread too thinly. No individual activity lands as well as it could do. If something is worth launching, it is worth giving it the support and time to succeed.

Think about the future of repeat. Invest now to win in the future. Some of the most interesting business models at the moment are focused on building a buyer base then really driving lock in and repeat. Think Dollar Shave Club. Think how Graze started. Think about all the things Amazon do – Prime, Subscribe & Save, Dash Buttons, 1 Click Ordering, Alexa – to drive repeat. Over the next few years, innovation will be as much (if not more) about how you sell as what you sell.

Penetration is an important metric. But penetration doesn’t tell you if your product is any good. Repeat gives you a much better indication of this. Repeat gives you a much more sustainable business.

One hit wonders don’t stay in the charts for long. One hit products don’t stay on the shelf for long.

This is our last blog of 2017. Have a great Xmas & New Year. Speak to you in January.

© 2020 by Insight Traction