Hope, faith, or just plain proof …

February 9, 2016By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing

by Julie Bonnell

While there are numerous ways to classify products, sorting them by what a consumer believes or their state of mind, helps us view differences between products in a unique manner.

Here are three experiential product clusters based on consumer beliefs:

Hope: “I hope this will make me prettier, smell nicer, look younger, be thinner." External and cultural influences.

Hope products are often ones that have the shortest lifecycle and whose popularity is affected by consumer fickleness. A consumer may think the next product that promises whiter teeth, softer skin, or better hair is “worth a shot.” What they are using may be perceived as adequate, but they may think, “What if this is better? I won’t know if I don’t try it.” It may or may not work. If it does, the product will be used for a while until the next shiny new product comes out and the consumer will get that same familiar thought of “the product I am using now is just OK…” and the cycle repeats.I believe this product will help me


Faith: “I believe this product will help me.Trusted influences.

Faith products are much like hope products, but it becomes harder for consumers to measure the success. Keep in mind these products usually require a habitual use to experience benefits. Consumers might think, “I believe taking a multivitamin will make up for my rushed meal choices” or “I believe that taking a fiber supplement will help me maintain my GI health (if I don’t have issues now, why tempt fate?).” The word of trusted sources will influence the decision to try these products. Consumers are not as likely to be fickle, but can still be tempted.

Proof: “I have used this product or one with the same ingredient and it solved my problem.” — Personal experiences.

Proof comes when the product solves a problem — and quickly. Once the issue is solved, it is much harder to sway the consumer to try something new. They think, “I know this product helped with my problem [migraine, last cold, dry mouth], so I am going to purchase it again.”  Personal positive experience solidifies the relationship.  Additionally, consumers can be influenced by friends, family or anyone with whom there is a strong one-on-one relationship.

Viewing products this way can change how we think about a category or set of products being merchandised, how we communicate product benefits, and even the success of new products coming into the market. Keep in mind, this clustering can be applied within established segmentation already in play.

Bottom line is, depending on how a product is chosen — as hope, on faith, or based on proof — affects the approach taken by manufacturers and retailers. If you are a manufacturer, think about your points of differentiation and how you can highlight them in your messaging. If you are a retailer, think about how your shelves offer consumers solutions, and how you might facilitate their decision-making process.

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