Grow your brand: Shopper Repertoires

‘Your customers are really other people’s customers who occasionally buy from you’. So said Professor Andrew Ehrenberg, author of ‘Repeat Buying’, statistician and marketing expert. Continuing our exploration of Byron Sharp’s ‘How Brands Grow’; this week we delve into Repertoire brands, those brands whose customers are ‘loyal’ to both them and a handful of their competitors.

Shoppers are invariably ‘loyal’ to a handful of brands

A word on loyalty

Much has been said about customer loyalty but one thing is for certain; the proliferation of products and brands, particularly in the FMCG industries, make gaining a consumer’s unswerving commitment challenging, to put it lightly. According to Forbes the number of brands people consider when making purchase decisions has increased significantly compared with 10 years ago. This, coupled with the findings of Sharpe’s research that dismisses loyalty as a growth strategy (a belief shared by many manufacturing giants), means many marketers find themselves in uncharted waters.

Respect the Repertoire

The definition of a ‘Repertoire’ brand is based on the concept that a brand’s customer, on average, buys other brands just as often as their own. Typically, household goods, toiletries, food and drinks etc. fall into this group. For repertoire brands, loyal consumers do not necessarily represent the biggest opportunity for growth; even heavy users have a cap when it comes to how much product they can consume. As such it is imperative that Repertoire brands perpetually acquire new consumers of their products, and recognise the huge opportunity for growth lighter users present.

Shopper repertoires can and do change over time, but shoppers are invariably ‘loyal’ to a handful of brands. Consumers construct their repertoires over time through their own product experiences, exposure to media and word of mouth. The human brain filters the plethora of choices down to a more manageable set, creating lasting, easily triggered memory structures which then inform, almost subconsciously, which toothpaste to choose or which fabric softener to put into your basket.

Marketing to a Repertoire shopper

For Repertoire brands penetration will invariably be the single biggest indicator of growth, making reach and trial key marketing objectives. Physical availability is paramount - if consumers can’t see your product on shelf, they can’t buy it. However, solid distribution is not enough. Even if your brand is visible, how do you ensure your products become part of their repertoire? The key, as explored last week, is to build strong and lasting memory structures that will ensure your brand holds poll position at the moment of truth.

According to Sharpe, Mental Availability is crucial in building memory structures and is achieved by ensuring all potential shoppers are reached by your brand's messaging. Mass reach is easily achieved, quality reach, less so and reach is wasted if it does not also deliver impact. This is where we believe Sharpe is often misinterpreted by brands hastily diverting entire budgets into above the line executions – the ‘convert’ element is missing.

Here’s how to ensure your marketing plan delivers both reach and impact:

1. Quality reach – from a quality source

This is where consumer activation comes into play. Building personal recommendations as a planned and measurable element to a marketing strategy will improve the impact of more traditional media, increasing brand awareness by 69%. It’s scalable too. In a recent campaign we activated 1,000 people to spread the word about new Freixenet Ice cava. Collectively they reached 26,231 who, in turn, reached a further 159,983 prospective shoppers. That’s 186,214 people reached by credible, personal recommendations.

2. Quality trial – not anonymous sampling

Trial is critical in ensuring brands make it into a shopper’s repertoire. Again, it is easy to achieve trial at scale with mass sampling activities, but impactful trial? No. We’ve spoken before about the importance of getting product into the right people’s hands and anonymously distributing samples at a station just doesn’t cut it. While the initial cost per contact may seem attractive, conversion to purchase rates will not as the majority of samples will be given to people who’re just after a freebie, achieving reach, but not delivering impact.

When Penetration is key, trial must convert to a sale. Again, consumer activation can help here. By equipping those consumers who already shop your brand with the tools and samples to share with people in their social circles, they’ll not only distribute your product to new consumers but in doing so, will construct memory structures not just related to a product, but built on human interaction too - far more compelling than an image of a logo.

Given that, according to Lithium as much as 50% of all purchase decisions are influenced by personal recommendations, and WOMMA research shows that an offline word-of-mouth recommendation drives at least 5 times more (and up to 100 times more) sales than a paid ad impression, consumer activation is a hugely impactful method of driving penetration.

Does loyalty still exist?

Loyalty still exists, but for brands that fall into the Repertoire category, it has matured into a more casual affair. To stay ahead of the game Repertoire brands must activate the human potential of their customers. The good news is that your consumers actively want to be involved. If the product and the means of communication is right, people will happily engage with brands. And the results can be remarkable, take a look at some of our case studies, then get in touch to see how we can do the same for you.

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