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Shopper Insights: The devil in the details

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | February 11, 2010
At the Shoppers and Consumer Insights Forum, presented by imint, brand marketers discussed what they've learned over time about shopper trends and consumer behaviour

At the recently held Shoppers and Consumer Insights Forum, which was organised by imint during the Asia Retail Congress, Sujan Roy of Volkswagen presented notes from his personal life. He explained the insights that he had learned from his wife.

Quoting the ad legend David Ogilvy, "The consumer is not a moron; she's your wife", Roy, head of product and price for Volkswagen Group Sales India, began his presentation on consumer behaviour and tricks for dealing with it.

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Roy called the target group a "spoilt brat". He justified this statement by stating that the TG has been spoilt with all the choices that it has; that it is always unhappy with whatever is on offer.

And here, added Roy, the trick is to exceed the TG's expectations in at least one key area. "How do you know which area?" asked Roy, explaining that the marketer needs to find the smaller details and difference between his product and the competition's. As Roy put it, "The devil is in the details."

The TG also wants more than what's offered, said Roy. So, the easy way out is to simply tell the consumer how your product offers more. However, he cautioned, the communication must be short and simple.

A related concern is that the consumer isn't always all ears to what the brand has to say, since the TG has a short attention span. Hence, emphasised Roy, it is very necessary for the communication to be interesting and concise. Also, this communication cannot be preachy, because like a teenager, the consumer would just ignore the brand. Roy suggested intelligently sugar-coating the information in an engaging story.

The next issue is whether the brand knows exactly what the consumer/TG likes, because more often than not, the TG itself is not sure of this; and brands end up having to make changes at the eleventh hour. However, Roy said, that it is essential for a brand to have this flexibility; if it aims to be relevant to its TG and gain its loyalty.

Roy then gave a few pointers that would help a brand in staying ahead. Apart from creating a compelling story in communication and anticipating change, Roy said that cannibalisation of a brand's most successful product, before competitors do so, is very important. He cited Maruti Suzuki as an example, which pulls out the best features of its last product, and adds them to the new model with a few other changes, before anyone else can do so.

Finally, Roy made his own addition to the set of P's in marketing. 'Pace', he said, is what makes or breaks the brand; and a brand that can create this pace will be able to nail it.