“How Brands Grow”, by Byron Sharp. Some top line implications for Shopper Research.
This book and the thinking within it is gaining a great deal of traction across the packaged goods Industry. If you haven’t read it, my layman’s summary is that panel data meta-studies over time show that it’s far more powerful (effective) to increase penetration (ie recruit more buyers) than to try to enhance loyalty as an engine of growth. Prof Sharp takes the view that brands rarely demonstrate above-average loyalty so this might be a bit like chasing fools gold.
He also concludes that in reality trial/purchase and experience builds brand familiarity (not the other way around) and this improves the extent a consumer views a brand as suitable for them – and wins their choice next time around.
Furthermore, all brands are inevitably, and continually losing current users to other brands (in the shoppers’ repertoire). Unless you “steal back” at pace, you will lose out in the long run. Standing still is not an option.
All this places a lot of emphasis on activity that helps “grab” a large number of shoppers in your category who are not buying your brand today.
So, what do we need to find out from research to support shopper marketers with this “penetration agenda”? To us, the four big questions are
- How and when do shoppers decide to buy the category? Should you seek to influence them before they shop (ie via advertising) or during the shop (via promotion and display)
- What occasions (and users) trigger the purchase. How can you grab attention by projecting your brand as an alternative solution for the specific need implied by this?
- What are the dominant requirements of the category (your target)? How do your brands best amplify these so appear more suitable to less knowledgeable shoppers?
- What are the best (most noticeable) ways to remind shoppers of your brand at point of purchase using the familiar aspects of your brand (the colours, the images etc)