By Mit Parekh, Manager, Brand and Commerce for Insights Division at Kantar, and Ankit Dhingra, Director, Brand and Commerce for Insights Division at Kantar
Love it or hate it, 2020 and 2021 saw the “new normal” become part of our everyday vocabulary. Now, marketers must go beyond the platitudes and decode them to navigate their brands through these turbulent times. As the oft-heard soundbite on evolution states: “It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
In image above: Ankit Dhingra, Director, Brand and Commerce for Insights Division, and Mit Parekh, Manager, Brand and Commerce for Insights Division at Kantar
We have identified three aspects of the new normal that apply to the evolving consumer and shopper environment of today:
Make every FMOT count:
Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) A.G Lafley reshaped the marketing model and coined the term First Moment of Truth (FMOT), as "the moment a consumer chooses a product over other competitors’ offerings." There has been a substantial drop in the number of times families go shopping, with families across the UAE and KSA maintaining this new pattern of “fewer trips, bigger basket sizes,” even as lockdown and curfew restrictions have eased.
This has translated into more planned shopping occasions, with shoppers listing the categories they’ll continue buying and which ones they can live without. This holds serious implications for category leaders to ensure they continue building category relevance, as an increase in basket size does not compensate for the decline in frequency of purchase, limiting category growth. Marketers need to ensure they have a proper understanding of ‘destination categories’, that they feature in promotional materials to secure higher footfall and conversion on the shop floor.
While category planning increased, brand planning has remained on par with pre-COVID levels. Few brands have driven their brand equity to get into pre-planned baskets. as ever-increasing promo levels aren’t enough to correct category decline. As another former P&G CEO Bob McDonald stated in the Harvard Business Review: “We know from our history that while promotions may win quarters, innovations win decades.”
Remain consistent and persistent:
Andrew Ehrenberg, on whose work the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Sciences was built, said “Your customers are other brands’ customers that occasionally buy your brand”. They have a larger repertoire set today, from which they buy interchangeably, based on mental and physical salience. If your brand is not regularly reminding or intercepting your audience on their path to purchase your risk of losing out increases, because shoppers are more likely to choose the next best alternative if your brand is not on the shelf at the right place, at the right time.” Almost half of the purchase decisions are driven by brand equity, with less leakage in planned vs. purchased brands. To ensure brand growth, marketing teams need to work closely to ensure each touchpoint on the consumer’s path to purchase leads to effective ROI across business investments.
Refresh shoppers’ memories and drive need-based salience to build equity, while being present and visible at the right time and right place to convert on the shop floor.
Delivering on both these parameters is “the jeopardy in double jeopardy” that drives brand growth through an increase in penetration. Penetration is the % of households buying your brand
CRP = Consumer Reach Points, which is calculated as household population or number of households in a country)
Consumer choice is the number of interactions with your brand across categories in a year
Focus on experiential retailing:
Middle Eastern consumers seek experience from their brands, products, and services, with experience-seeking shoppers the biggest shopper segments identified in the UAE and KSA both on functional experience (quick checkouts, easy-to-navigate aisles, higher assortment) and emotive experience (aisle theatrics and aromatic infusions).
With such powerful touchpoints at marketers’ disposal, brands must deliver the shop-floor experience to create more long-lasting differentiation than levers like price and promotions.
Historically, the main category aisle has been the main location of product pick up but decoding the shoppers’ in-store movements indicates they visit the main aisle after visiting secondary product displays/aisles, so brands that deliver this experience through theatrics have grown.
With increasing pressure on space management for secondary placements, manufacturers and retailers need to relook at category planograms to ease shopper conversion and create impulse by giving a strong reason to buy at the shelf or at secondary placements. Re-look at main aisle location for margin-driven categories and the role of secondary placements to drive higher ROI from footfall to conversion.
The secret to sustainable brand growth for challenger and category-leading brands alike…
Different categories and players are impacted by market disruptions differently, making life difficult for emerging categories and challenger brands, as people stick to the familiar and the ‘must-haves.' Challenger brands must have a credible point of difference to justify their inclusion in the shopper’s basket. Mature categories and category-leading brands also need to invest in both physical presence and mental salience.
Successful brands’ marketing decisions have kept the shopper at the heart of strategies and tactics to generate sustainable brand growth.
Learn more about how to “ride the wave to growth” from the lens of consumer, shopper, and retailer.