Launching new products or services is often a key strategy behind achieving market share and profitability goals for all types of service and product companies. The need to develop high quality, winning â€œconceptsâ€ for these new products or services is glaringly apparent. Interestingly, because clients spend so much time with their product or services and examining the data, they often lose objectivity about their offerings. Therefore, it is critical to remember that at the end of the day â€“ the appeal of your product or service is ALL ABOUT THE CONSUMER. It doesnâ€™t matter what business you are in, at the end of the day everyone has a â€œconsumerâ€. One doesnâ€™t need to shop at some type of venue for a product or a service to be a consumer. A patient is a Doctorâ€™s consumer, while the Doctor is the pharmaceutical companyâ€™s consumer. Similarly, a business customer buying B2B is still a consumer because one person or a group of people are making the buying decision and â€œconsumingâ€. Fundamentally, everyone has a consumer â€“ so all marketing needs to be framed from a consumer standpoint.
I challenge my clients to ask themselves four critical questions when developing any concepts. Before any product or service is taken into the next level of development, it is essential that the marketer and/or the market research professional can answer, â€œyesâ€ to the following questions
1. Does the â€œconsumerâ€ care?
Immersed on their brand, clients often lose their objectivity about their offerings. Most often, this is driven by the shear number of hours the client hyper-focuses on something the consumer may even take for granted. For example, a client in the facial cleansing category thinks about how to clean and care for a face 40+ hours a week. Unfortunately, even a â€œface-involvedâ€ consumer may spend less than five minutes a day on her face cleaning routine. As such, any changes and improvements to the product may have claimable R&D benefits or advantages, but they may not be particularly important to the end-user because theyâ€™d be largely unnoticed.
2. Does the â€œconsumerâ€ notice?
Often clients want to upgrade a product with a technological improvement or an internally perceived difference. In some cases, that change might make sense because a more aggressive, consumer relevant claim can be made. For example, if a household-cleaning product is difficult to rinse, than a formula with improved rinsability would probably be noticed â€“ perhaps this makes sense to do. That being said, if a new process reduces the wait time on an 800# from 15 minutes to 13, I would argue that youâ€™d still have an angry consumer when the line is answered â€“ especially if you overtly claim â€œshorter wait timesâ€. Cutting that time from 15 minutes to 3, now that would get noticed!
3. Does the â€œconsumerâ€ speak in this language?
Writing a concept in a consumer-appealing manner is more difficult than most think. Because clients often spend more time in the office than with their consumer, often they lose track of how their consumer thinks and talks about their product or service offering. Nine out of ten concepts I read from clients that are â€œreadyâ€ to go to qualitative generally sound more like clients talking to themselves than reaching out and connecting with their consumer. It is a natural outcome of not â€œhearingâ€ your consumer often enough. Typically, the biggest toe stubs in a written concept for most clients is an Accepted Consumer Belief (ACB) driven by insight learning. I recall an ACB from a fast food client referring to their consumer in a written concept as a â€œtime-crunched party throwerâ€!!! It was good for a laugh, but that isnâ€™t how a consumer would refer to him or herself.
4. Does the â€œconsumerâ€ understand?
The written concept can make or break an idea in terms of getting the necessary feedback to take the concept to the next level of development. As such, it is critical to flush out the concept qualitatively with consumers to make sure that he or she understands the idea BEFORE it goes into some type of quantitative concept test. The last thing a client wants is to spend money on a test where the concept tanks because the consumer doesnâ€™t get it. I worked with one client who had spent $50,000 testing ten concepts where none of them received a top 2 box purchase intent meeting objectives. After scrutiny by an outsider (that would be me), it became glaringly obvious that every concept had a different format â€“ some were product descriptions, some were full concepts, some didnâ€™t have an ACB. In most cases, the consumer didnâ€™t understand the idea because it wasnâ€™t set up and approached in a relevant way. If the concept doesnâ€™t walk a consumer logically through the idea in a meaningful and understandable way, more often than not, the scores will be lackluster.
So donâ€™t let yourself get trapped in these common pitfalls. Simply ask yourself these 4 simple questions, if you canâ€™t answer, â€œyesâ€ to all of them â€“ you still have some work to do!