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Millions of dollars in marketing opportunities and pitfalls are right in front of you. Do you see them?

It’s not an easy time to be a marketer.  Consumers are more fickle and less brand loyal than in recorded consumer behavior history.  It was recently reported that sales of low-fat Greek yogurt fell over 20% in a two month period of time as consumers suddenly worried less about calories and more about protein. Consumer “winners” and “losers” change in the bat of an eye.

The QSR, beverage, beer, natural foods, telecommunications, and fashion industries have all fallen victim to whiplash-generating changes in consumer purchase behavior, sometimes within a matter of months.

The billion dollar question is how do you thrive in this environment and regain the loyalty of previous customers and “non-considerers” without hurting your image among loyalists?  Here are 4 helpful steps we uncovered:

1. Understand Consumer Behavior.  It is imperative that you understand the purchasing differences between those who are still loyal to your product and compare them to those who have moved on.  To evaluate these differences, don’t just ask them about their purchase behaviors and drivers – watch them.  Did their purchasing habits changed across many different categories, or just yours?   Was price a prime driver in their decisions?  What about healthier food choices? Are they purchasing products that follow a dietary restriction such as gluten free?  Do they appear to be stepping up their purchases of brand name products? These real-world experiences provide the critical answers to the tough questions marketers are facing in boardrooms across the country.

2. Be relevant.  It is critical to test new introductions; and sometimes without the family name.  At PTG, we’ve found that maintaining a family name can occasionally prevent true consideration of an item that consumers may indeed want to try but are hesitant to do so because of a halo effect.  For instance, J&J had to introduce their now successful Aveeno line of skin products as a standalone brand because J&J was viewed as a company that made products “for babies”.

3.  Speak their language.  Be sure to study and approach non-considerers differently than your loyalists.  For example, non-considerers may have different reactions to the same TV spot, digital ad, in-store display, package or claim. You may even need to target them differently, with a unique brand in order to bring them back to the fold. However, if this segment didn’t leave you due to taste or quality, but, rather, they moved on seeking something special, then you have a good opportunity to get them back.

4. Give them what they want and what they always had.  Offer them what they’re seeking while making it sound that it is a natural feature of your (new) brand. If you are now additive-free, say “we always believe in nature.” If it is a new beer flavor say “always providing surprises for those looking for unique tastes.”  If you reduced sugar in your product tout the healthful benefits rather than admit you had high sugar content to begin with.

Use technology that enables you to follow and study the shopping and usage habits of your target audiences. Target your media strategy to reach this lapsed audience even if it means a separate campaign from your loyalists. Keep pressing and, lo and behold, they will be yours once again. 

Let’s discuss how you’re winning back your customers and how PTG can help. I can be reached at 201.569.4800 or dan.morris@pretesting.com.

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