Are you going to focus on the important and simple stuff?
So, we are 12 days into 2018. A New Year, but not a lot seems to be changing.
The NHS is in a winter crisis. Nothing is changing.
The England cricket team lost heavily to Australia in the Sydney test match. Nothing is changing.
Theresa May has delivered her big reshuffle which turned out not to be so big after all. If the reports are to be believed it sort of went like this – “I would like you to take position X”, “I’d rather stay where I am”, “OK, you can stay where you are”. Nothing is changing.
And Donald Trump continues where he left off last year. Building on last year’s “I think I am humble. I think I’m more humble than you would understand”, he has now offered us “throughout my life my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart” then calling himself a “genius…and a very stable genius at that”. Nothing is changing.
Why are we talking about this? Well, first of all, we love a Trump quote. But, secondly, and more importantly, this is the time of year that everyone is focused on change. What is going to be new or different in 2018? There is nothing wrong with this. Identifying the right new trends and going after them can be a great way to drive sales.
However, we think that in our industry, just like in many other walks of life, the important things don’t really change. The things that are important to winning with shoppers and driving growth this year are the same things that have been important over the last few years and will be important over the next few years.
So, with this in mind, here are our golden rules for winning in 2018. There are 2 parts. Firstly, staying focused on the important stuff. Secondly, staying focused on the simple stuff.
Let’s start with the important stuff.
1. Deliver on the drivers of choice – for a store, category or sub category. Stay focused on the things that matter to shoppers not the things that don’t matter.
2. Address the key barriers to buying a category, sub category or brand. The things that shoppers say you need to address. If sugar is an issue, address it. If taste is an issue, address it.
3. Ensure innovation delivers at least one of the following three elements (a) better quality or performance (b) healthier (c) convenience. If it doesn’t, think seriously about whether to launch it. Think even more seriously, if you are looking to charge a price premium.
4. Back your winning SKUs. Focus resource behind the products that sell, not the ones that don’t sell. Spend less time trying to protect weak SKUs and more time driving strong SKUs. They are weak and strong for a reason.
5. Focus as much on repeat as you do on penetration. Behaviour change doesn’t happen by doing something once. A buyer is not really a buyer if they only buy once.
What about the simple stuff?
1. Make sure shoppers know what you are asking them to buy. The poster of Serena Williams playing tennis is advertising…? Temper Mattresses. It’s live at bus stops at the moment. Well done to anyone who makes the connection. What is obvious to people who have worked on a project for 12 months, is often not obvious to the rest of us.
2. Tell shoppers where to find things. A nod to Nutella here. TV advertising for their new B-ready bar finishes with “find us in the biscuits aisle”. It won’t win an award, but it will drive sales.
3. Make sure you communicate consistently – across touch points and over time. Repetition of message is key in busy environments with shoppers who pay little attention. Brand Managers get bored much more quickly than shoppers do.
4. Prioritise your most important message. You get ‘feature creep‘ in technology as more and more features get added to products. We have seen ‘benefit creep’ in FMCG. The product does this…and this…and this…and this. Yes, but what is the one big thing it does – the reason to buy?
5. Design for stand out. This applies to POS communication and packaging (primary and secondary). The designs aren’t going to be hung in an art gallery. They are going to be on, or around, a shelf (or a busy webpage). You have to be seen to be bought.
None of these ‘rules’ should be new to you. We expect you to intuitively know them. We could have written them last year. We could write them again next year.
But they are things that can be very easy to lose sight of. And you often won’t realise you have lost sight of them until it’s too late.
At a time when everyone is focusing on change, focus on the things that don’t change.
Feel free to forward. Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.