“You’re hot then you’re cold; You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out; You’re up and you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right; It’s black and it’s white…”
Chances are if you’ve heard anything about Katy Perry’s 2008 hit Hot N Cold recently, it wasn’t good. Perry, an extremely popular singer-songwriter, filmed a version of the song for the children’s show Sesame Street and got roundly criticized for wearing an outfit that was deemed inappropriate. Sadly, it wasn’t the only negative publicity she’s received of late.
But who knew that Perry also was such a wiz at marketing. For one second, forget whatever you know about her and re-read the chorus to the song listed above. Now think about your shoppers and the whole thing makes sense. Sometimes they are hot then they’re cold; they’re yes and then no.
In other words, they are filled with contradictions and constantly changing opinions. It’s the job of every marketer to figure out the mess and find a way to provide answers.
It is increasingly apparent that shoppers become many different people in the course of making various purchases or even on a single shopping trip. In food stores that means choosing some items solely on price, while others are purchased for indulgence. In fashion it means mixing high-priced designer items in the same outfit with bargain-store apparel. It’s why we see BMWs at Dollar General and price-oriented advertising in Whole Foods. And it’s why one retailer reported shoppers drinking high-priced coffee while waiting in line to buy cheaper gasoline for their cars.
In short, it’s a world of contradictions.
The challenge for marketers it seems is cutting through this clutter and confusion. More than ever we need to ascertain the type of value different shoppers apply to different experiences. We need to be sensitive to their contradictory style of making choices and help show them we understand their need for value in all its form.
That means doing everything possible to cut costs in areas that provide no benefit to the shopper. Going lean and mean has never been more important because it allows you to spend your resources on those areas that do matter to the shopper. If you do that you can help build a relationship with the shopper that is sensitive to price even as you build other values.
But also remember that no one can get is all right. One of the lessons of The World According to Shoppers, the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council report I profiled in Shopper Marketing is the importance of understanding these limitations. The report challenges marketers to examine your shoppers and competition to determine where you are and are not strongest. It’s impossible for any one company to dominate all areas and an honest assessment will help you understand where to focus. (You can download the study for free at www.ccrrc.org. Look under the tab for the North American council.)
Sure, you have to change to meet the changing needs of shoppers. But your ability to develop a consistent reputation of value will help shoppers know why to shop your stores or products. Even when they are up and then down, or in and then out.
About the Author
Michael Sansolo - Guest Blogger for Phenomena.com
Michael Sansolo works with some of the most innovative retailers and manufacturers in the US on a range of business issues including competition, marketing and management. His most recent book, The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies was released in January.
The past senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, Sansolo is now research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council. He is a frequent speaker at a wide range of industry meetings.Contact him at www.michaelsansolo.com