Learning from others’ mistakes

The old adage ‘you learn from your mistakes’ has been adapted slightly for a more risk-adverse marketer. Instead, FMCG brands can learn from others’ mistakes, according to the latest research from Datamonitor.

Many products hit the shelves with nothing more than a whimper and are dropped within months. The reason is simply because consumers are being bombarded with brands and don’t notice when a ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ one hits the shelves.

Many shoppers find it hard to stray from their shopping lists, and stick to their old faithful, dependable brands. Online supermarket sites like Ocado let you know exactly what you ordered last time. I have to confess – and I bet I’m not the only one – that I regularly ‘tick all’ and get exactly the same shop as the time before without considering new brands.

Put simply, it can take a lot of persuasion for shoppers to try something new. Unfortunately, it seems that many FMCG companies are needlessly pumping out new products without a second thought. Between 2007 and 2009, more than 1600 products were launched, according to the research. It doesn’t say how many of those are still on the shelves, but I bet a large portion of those ‘innovative’ products have been quietly forgotten about.

Rather than being one of those mistakes, Datamonitor has studied 100 brands in detail to see what made them irresistible to consumers. Giving people a real reason to buy a brand, like having a strong ethical positioning was identified as a key reason for success.

Tapping into rituals was another reason why some brands succeeded. Rather than slashing the price, making your brand a habit for consumers can make it irresistible.

Market conditions also play a vital role, of course. Research suggests those brands that analyse competitor products, gaps in the market and other conditions are most likely to succeed.

So rather than learning from expensive mistakes, there is a long list of failures – and a few successes, of course, that marketers should study.

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