Reading Martin Lindstrom’s excellent book, Small Data, I am reminded of an example of how simple consumer observation blended with clear understanding of a brand's values can change forever the trajectory of a brand.
A few years ago I was leading the marketing for PowerBar Sports Nutrition. Endurance athletes are a very demanding consumer, but are prepared to pay premium prices to get “the edge” they need to perform. This translates into both equipment and sports nutrition. But sometimes seemingly obvious things are ignored.
PowerBar gels, (PowerGel), are a staple for marathoners, triathletes and cyclists, but have you ever tried opening the foil pack with sweaty hands or, worse still, using both hands while cycling? Not easy, even dangerous. The athletes' hack was to tear the top with their teeth, but this led to cut lips. Simple observation led us to quickly realise that an easier opening mechanism was needed. Obvious, maybe, but only if you were out in the field, (literally), with the consumer to see for yourself.
This insight led packaging improvement is also what I call a brand buttressing strategy. The packaging isn’t core to the function of the brand, i.e. fast energy, but still plays an important role - especially when you understand how the brand is actually used by athletes.
Big Data can tell you that you have a problem, small data can guide you to the solution. After 30 years as a marketing and branding professional I still believe there is nothing better than getting out there and meeting your consumer yourself.
Understand your brand, love your brand; it is probably your company's best asset.
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