Winning in 2016

Are you focused on what won’t change this year?

So, here we are, starting another New Year.  We are only 8 days in and already you will have been bombarded with advice on how to live a better life.  The top 3 things you need to do to transform your relationships, leadership, health, fitness – the list is endless.  Whilst this is all nice, we can’t imagine many of you have begun setting the alarm for 5.30 so you can start the day with 15 minutes quiet meditation.  Don’t worry, neither have we.

At this time of year, it is very easy to focus on what is new.  Everyone is telling us to do so.  However, when we focus on what is new, we can often forget about what is important.  And what is important often doesn’t change very much.  Indeed a lot of what we do, and what we like, doesn’t change that much year to year.  The 2 top grossing films last year in the UK?  James Bond and Star Wars.  Were we living in 2015 or 1979?

As things progress, it is often not the WHAT that changes, but the HOW.  We are still watching Star Wars, but how it is created and delivered, and in what environment we are watching it, has changed significantly.  We will still have James Bond, but who plays him might change.

So, rather than talk about all the things that will change in 2016, all the hot new trends you need to be all over, we thought we’d remind you of some of the things that were important last year (and the years before that) and will continue to be important this year (and the years after that).  The things that have as much, if not more, longevity than Bond or Star Wars;

Here are some of our (fairly safe…) predictions for the year;

Bestsellers from 2015 will be bestsellers in 2016.  People like what they like.  We buy what we have bought before.  Yes, there will be emerging flavours, but tomato in soup, vanilla in ice cream, strawberry in yoghurt, are not going out of fashion.  Ask yourself, have you got the best bestseller?  Is your product winning where it is most important to win?  Where the volume is.

We will eat the same core meals in 2016.  Kantar FFP regularly publish the Top 10 Meals in the UK.  They rarely change.  People are still going to be eating a lot of Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner.  They are still going to eat a lot of sandwiches at lunch.  The challenge is not to change what people eat, but to make that dish more interesting or to get your product in, or associated with, the top meals.  Don’t launch that Italian Korean ready meal just yet.

People will still do what it is easiest to do in 2016.  We always have.  In our world, this means going to the retailers or channels that are most convenient.  It means buying the products that are easiest to buy.  Using the products that are easiest to use.  Are your stores easier to shop, or products easier to buy and use, than the competition?  And if not, do they need to be?

Shoppers will spend very little time thinking about, and buying, our products in 2016.  Much less time and energy than we spend thinking about them.  Our goal should not be trying to change this – often the more time you spend thinking about something, the less likely you are to do it.  Our goal should be about adapting what we do – messaging, POS, pack design – to this reality.  Don’t tell people everything we’d love them to know about Product X, just tell them what it is and why they should buy it.

The reasons shoppers buy things will be the same in 2016.  If taste was the biggest reason for buying a category or product last year, it will be this year.  If health was the biggest reason not to buy last year, it will be this year.  The big triggers and barriers change little.  Don’t waste your time and money reconfirming that it is health you need to address.  Focus on what it is about health and how to address it in a different or more compelling way than the competition.

We all want to influence consumer and shopper behaviour.  But the key to doing so, is to work with the existing behaviours, not try to fundamentally change them.  Disney didn’t try to develop a competing Star Wars franchise, they bought the existing one.  And then modernised it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Have a great 2016.

Feel free to forward.  Speak to you next week.

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