Brand Strategy / Marketing Strategy

“Have you tried…” isn’t good enough. We need smarter cross-category selling

Buy a box of own-brand cereal from any supermarket and you’ll probably see “Have you tried our other delicious flavours?” emblazoned on the back.

In terms of maximising the brand’s sales opportunity, this isn’t good enough – as I shall explain using a bottle of shampoo (while illustrating how you can maximise your owned media advantage).

Let me be clear about one thing.

We buy food stuffs to eat within a defined time period.

I buy a box of cereal this week, I replace it in two weeks time.

I might try a different flavour (as advertised on the back of the previous pack), but my spend is still the same.

We do this with most of our purchases – replacing what is worn out with something of similar price/properties – and they’ll often self-refer back to their own categories with a “Have you tried…” or “Here are the other products in our range…” on-pack message.

This is bad for multi-category –  especially producer-retailer – brands.

What these brands should be doing is moving me efficiently from one of their categories to another, in order to increase my spend and maximise my profitability as a customer.

Last December, I opened this thought by suggesting that the Co-Operative could offer a free downloadable Italian language less to anyone buying an own brand pizza.  The idea here is to maximise the profitability of that customer buy directing them into holiday choice and currency exchange through giving them additional knowledge at minimal cost, while developing Shared Value as a best business practice.

Now I’m extending it, because of shower gel.

Look very carefully at this packaging from the Possibility brand.

Yes, that’s right.

The product not only smells of pumpkin pie – but also has a recipe for the pie on the bottle.

Brilliant tactics for getting noticed at the shelf-front.

However, it shows a gaping whole in multi-channel product packaging strategy.

Imagine if this was a Tesco’s own branded product.

You’re in store doing your weekly shop; the packaging catches your eye.  You give the shower gel a sniff, approve the aroma and then go to put it in your trolley.

But something stops you.

The smell is almost good enough to eat.

You’ve never made a pumpkin pie before.  But you can almost imagine the taste of it.

The recipe is in front of you (no need to go hunting through books or the internet).

Everything you need to make the pie is in store, just a few aisles away (no need to make a special trip).

You’ve got every reason to give it a go right there with no extra effort required on your part.

And you’ve got a reason to spend more money with the producer-retailer brand.

If you’re given a “Have you tried…” message, that’s not applicable to the here-and-now.  That’s only relevant to your next shop.

If the message is printed on a till receipt, you’re not going to see that until you’ve left the store. By which time it’s too late.

Both of these tried-and-tested tactics are too late, they miss the here-and-now immediacy moment.

Getting your customer to buy in that moment, while the idea is fresh in their heads, is going to be far, far more effective than trying to get them to remember to buy later.

Your packaging is more than a container for your product and a flashy on-shelf “Notice ME” scream.

It is, in fact, the most important piece of owned media that you possess.

It’s the piece that will sit at eye-level in your customers’ shower cubicle for weeks; it’s the piece that they will pick up daily in some cases.

It’s the piece that could guide them from one of your categories to the next, frictionlessly.

So don’t ask your customer “Have you tried…”. Either ask them what they’re going to try next (if you’re a single category brand) or give them reasons to explore the full range of your category portfolio.

As retailing gets ever more cut-throat, this kind of smartly-thought-out, cross-channel, relevant, customer-utility-focussed, design isn’t just going to be a nice add-on; it’s going to be a necessity…

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.


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