In the advertising business we get pretty excited over the flashy stuff. But when selling the every day products that fill carts and bags during the weekly grocery trips, Director of Brand Strategy and Planning, Adam Pierno, has three basics that can't be overlooked if you want the average American to make you a regular purchase.

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  • Adam Pierno
  • Director of Brand Strategy

Treat It Like a Luxury

In the advertising business we get pretty excited over the flashy stuff. When we get to employ our expertise on a famous brand or a high-end product, we have a little extra pep in our step. We get to rub elbows with the elite. We research their behavior we come to understand them. We become proxies for them.

But let’s focus on the 90% of the products that regular people buy every day. They’re not fancy. And by regular people, I mean the blue collar Americans that Presidential candidates are earnestly speaking to when they look into the camera. People like myself. We shop at WalMart, maybe sometimes Target. We splurge for the membership to Costco in hopes of saving a few dollars. We’re looking for ways to provide everything for our family and have enough left over to take the kids to Red Robin for a meal they won’t even finish.

When we’re building a strategy for those high-end brands, we are selling an image. Something bigger than the product itself in most cases. But when we’re selling the every day products that fill carts and bags during the weekly or monthly grocery trips – or the retail brand itself – there are three basics that can’t be overlooked if you want the average American to make you a regular purchase.

1. Execution.

To put it simply, do what you say you will do. People want reliable products to meet their predictable needs. Yes, there is room for delight in every experience but make absolutely sure that you meet the minimum requirement as promised by your brand. When we develop brand architecture, we repeatedly ask, “Is this true?” at each step of the process and debate the honesty even while presenting to the client. Why? Because we understand how consumers receive brand information, and the letdown that is suffered if it isn’t solid.

Five Guys executes flawlessly. They’ve resisted the urge to add panels to their simple menu and instead focus on getting the core items they serve right. They understand that people coming there want the burger the crave and they deliver on that craving every time with a consistent customer experience made up of little flash.

2. Humility.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. People need boots, they clean toilets, they want better frozen pizza. Understanding that you make a serious commitment to deliver your products, people don’t usually want serious conversation. Make room for levity in your brand. Think about meeting someone for the first time; the conversation is much easier if they have some sense of humor. Conversely, we are a little more hesitant to call on our friends who are always in crisis mode.

Duluth Trading Co. does this very well. They make a solid project for working men and women. They message very directly about their product features, but the do so in a lighthearted and engaging way which connects with core audiences. Their TV ads, for instance, tell their consumer ‘we get this problem, and that’s why we designed this product.’

3. Value. Not price.

Yes, people compare prices. In a commodity environment, which we’re all working to avoid, price is king. Cents per ounce of this salad dressing or that one. But when you correctly explain the value delivered by the attributes of your brand and product features, you buy a little leeway. This isn’t to say pricing strategy isn’t important – it’s critical. I mean everything you do must communicate the brand value.

For one client, we found that consumers who loved the brand were comfortable paying around 20% more. Because they understand the value and stopped focusing on price.

It’s easy to get caught up in our perspective inside the brand, and present an extremely serious toilet paper brand, or packaging for fruit punch covered in hyperbolic claims. Understand the basics of what people want when they’re buying the things they need. Treat people the way you want to be treated when you find yourself in the aisle at Safeway or Lowe’s.

Kris Krüg

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