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BW Businessworld

Action Delivers

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I wish, brand managers abhinav and salma had just walked into Spencer’s and picked up conversation with the customer. They would have got answers to many of their questions. One of the big issues in today’s modern world is that as marketers we do not speak to consumers or listen to them. In fact, many of us do the same in our office with our colleagues. We communicate to them through white mail, e-mail or Facebook and Twitter, although we may be a few yards away from our colleague in the office or an aisle away from the consumer in the store. Alternatively, they will engage research agencies to do focus groups with a few customers. Please talk, talk, talk to your customers, most of them love to get attention!

This reminds me of a store visit I was doing with the Coke CEO at Hypercity Mumbai a few years ago. As we were walking in the store, he saw a customer carrying a crate of Pepsi in the trolley walking towards the cash counter. He excused himself and started speaking to the customer enquiring why she bought Pepsi instead of Coke. In the next few minutes, I saw the CEO not only getting feedback but he convinced the customer into buying Coke, which he personally picked up from the shelf and put it in her trolley and respectfully kept the Pepsi case back in the right place. What a demonstration of customer interaction, power of convincing and a demonstration to me and his other colleagues that the customer is more important than a store walk or meeting the hypermarket chief executive.

In my understanding, every customer has a decision tree in her mind and all her decisions are accordingly made. For example, when she has to buy a pair of jeans, it will be, Fit, Colour, Style and then the Brand. Once the fit is established in her mind, the next purchase is Brand, Colour, Style and Fit, in that order, respectively.

My wild guess at the buying process is that the lady was probably looking at an attribute like “Sugar Free” or “No added sugar” or made from fruit pulp with no added synthetic flavour, etc. In this instance, the feature becomes more important than the brand. I have seen promotion and price offs playing a big role in the juice section clearly indicating that brands can be switched at the point of sale until and unless stickiness has been created with one of the features. Therefore, for Kanto and its managers it is critical to understand the decision-making process and the study of how the customer picks up the pack and what and where she looks in for the information. Consistency in placing of the key proposition on the packaging is very critical. Many a times we see brands not paying attention to the printing of MRP as well as expiry date, leading to both being neither visible nor readable, thus forcing the customer to leave the product on the shelf.

It may be a sound idea to tell the customer about the key features and also where to look for them on the packaging when creating a communication campaign or promotion material. I love the new Coke advertisement with Deepika Padukone and her neck, clearly talking about price and where to look for it.

In this instance, there could be strong possibility that they are already a loyal customer of another brand and the lady wanted to try Kanto juice for some features, which probably she did not find. The daughter only reminded her or prodded her not to change the brand, therefore she just picked up the brand she is used to.

We see in supermarkets the shopping behaviour highly influenced by children or family member. In such cases, adjacency of stocking plays a very important role as the presentation and the category focus ensures that the target audience is always kept in mind. Another unique behaviour we see in supermarkets is cross-merchandising with aligned needs of the consumer. For example, if this lady was looking at ‘no added sugar’ juice, then placement next to sugar free category can be of great help. Alternatively lead a category management initiative for breakfast category and with the supermarket player put bread, milk, egg, butter, juices and cereals at a point of display and see and understand the purchase behaviour of the customer.

Hi! Abhinav and Salma, please get inside the store and start interacting with customers, you may end up learning as well as selling in the process gaining market share.    

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-07-2014)

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