In 1932 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster met whilst attending Glenville High School in Cleveland.
They bonded over their love of fiction. Siegel aspired to be a writer. Shuster to be an illustrator.
Siegel wrote amateur science fiction stories which he self-published in a magazine. Shuster often provided illustrations for his work.
In January 1933 Siegel published a short story titled ‘The Reign of Superman’.
From there they really got to work.
They gave him a base character - ‘Clark Kent’. Created by taking the first names of the actors Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.
They gave him a visual design. The tight fitting suit, shorts and red boots were inspired by the costumes of wrestlers, boxers and strongmen.
They gave him superpowers. He could fly. He had superhuman strength. He had x-ray vision.
Their revised version of Superman appeared in the first issue of Action Comics published on April 18 1938.
The issue was a huge success. The superhero was born.
Where Superman led, many others followed.
Why are we talking about this? In the FMCG world we have our own Superheroes.
Most categories have leading products.
It might be a type of product – e.g. bananas in Produce. It might be a flavour – e.g. vanilla in ice cream. It might be a brand – e.g. Heinz Ketchup in Condiments.
These are the products that draw shoppers into a category. That they want to buy. The Superheroes.
Most brands will also have leading products.
It might be the Dairy Milk tablet for Cadbury’s. It might be Punk IPA for BrewDog. It might be the Strawberry & Banana smoothie for Innocent.
These are the products that draw shoppers into a brand. That they want to buy. The Superheroes.
They are the products that account for a high % of category and brand sales but often a low % of focus.
In contrast, the products (line extensions, niche flavours etc) that account for a low % of sales, often get a high % of focus.
We spend more resource trying to sell that stuff that doesn’t sell than the stuff that does sell.
So, how can you change this and refocus on your leading products? Your Superheroes.
Be clear on who they are. They are your bestsellers. The ones on the far left of the pareto curve. They are the crowd pleasers. The chocolate digestive not the fig roll.
They have often been around for a while. Punk IPA, “the beer that started it all,” not the latest Eton Mess IPA (yes, that’s a thing). They are the products that would really annoy shoppers if they were unavailable.
If you don’t know what they are, you don’t have any. So you need to develop one.
Make them accessible & visible. Get them in as many (relevant) stores as possible. Prioritise them in range line-ups. If you can only have a couple of products in the range make sure it’s your superheroes. Don’t try to sell prawn cocktail when you could be selling cheese and onion.
Be as visible as possible. Really visible in your home aisle. Glance at the category and they should be the first products you see. Look at your brand line-up and they should leap out. Be really visible in secondary locations. Coke never tire of showing shoppers Coke. Never tire of being within arms reach of being bought.
Don’t rely on shoppers finding you. Go and find them.
Reinforce your superpowers. All superheroes have superpowers. Something that you do that your competitors can’t do. Or at least you do better than them.
If you’re Cadbury’s it might be “a glass and a half.” If you’re Guinness it might be “good things come to those who wait.” If you’re Fairy Liquid it might be “lasts twice as long.” If you’re Activia it might be “supports gut health.”
Tell shoppers what your superpower is. Then tell them again. And again. And again.
Celebrate them. Lynx Africa was launched in 1995. That’s 28 years ago. It is still the biggest selling Lynx variant by far. Fathers used to (still…?) use it. Sons use it. Their sons will use it.
You can picture a can of Lynx Africa in their house in the country. Sitting in a leather armchair. Sipping a whiskey. Smoking a cigar. Seeing all the other Lynx variants coming and going. Thinking… one day the brand manager will come knocking.
One day the brand manager did come knocking. Said they wanted to do a campaign. Said they were going to call you the GOAT. Said we’re going to London for a photo shoot. Said they were going to make you a star again.
By the way there is a Lynx Africa GOAT campaign. This isn’t a crazy dream sequence.
Selling new and different stuff is important. Selling the stuff that sells is even more important.
Being Clark Kent is OK. Being Superman is much better.
Feel free to forward. Have a great weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.