Why understanding consumers’? mood shift will protect you from competitors.

We were recently working on a UK household snacking brand and I was struck by a few key thoughts:

Like many in this market they were under pressure from every angle: indulgent brands muscling in on their space and health conscious brands waving guilt at the consumer whenever there’s an opportunity. Own label products mimicking the big brands, together with trendy niche producers disrupting but not particularly growing the market.

What is a household brand to do? Especially when you are cherished for your steadfast reliability and homeliness – Great brand values, but hardly sexy enough to get the consumer’s attention in this crowded space.

We took our client on a journey. We began with the Taste Journey of their products and examined competitor products’ Taste Journeys as well. They wanted to understand: How their products were differentiated from the competition? Which aspects their competitors had got right? How could they strengthen their position in their traditional market? And how to compete with own label whilst expanding into adjacent markets?

Our research showed that the crux of the issue boiled down to one question:

Why do consumers eat the product?

Seems like an obvious question? However, in order to truly answer this question, and thus all the questions that our client was asking, we needed to understand:

• What mood shift does the product create in the consumer?

• How do our products and our competitors operate in relation to this consumer emotional journey?

We love food and drink products because of the way they make us feel. We come back to certain products time and time again because we feel better after eating them than we did before.

However, it is only by understanding exactly why this is and how our product delivers this mood shift compared to competitors that we truly understand our product and the power our brand has over its competition.

It seems crazy to try to develop products, write communications and plan strategy without understanding this basic but fundamental question.

Not just why do they eat biscuits, by why do they eat this type of biscuit as opposed to any other, and why do they choose this brand as opposed to other brands available.

Such preferences are emotionally based. Consumers do not choose the best product, they choose the one that makes them feel the best.

When you understand How and Why your product makes people feel as they do, you get a clearer picture of how you can improve your product and communications.

Chris Lukehurst is a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional responses.