Is The Classic Purchase Funnel Flawed?

Quick Read: With most products in any given category tending to have total functional parity, the only way to drive trial could possibly be through a singular route – curioisty.

Often times I am curious why “curiosity” doesn’t even figure in the classic purchase funnel.

In fact I tend to believe that without inciting a threshold level of curiosity in a consumer, awareness and consideration could end up proving to be moot pursuits.

Let’s take Kaviar. (or Smörgåskaviar to be specific)

Kaviar is a Scandinavian spread – a paste consisting mainly of lightly smoked cod roe that has a salty/sweet/fishy taste and a gooey pink/orange colour. Packed full of omega-3 goodness, kaviar can be eaten at anytime and practically spread on anything edible – breads, eggs, meat, cheese etc. (source)

Mills Kaviar

(Source: Mills Kaviar)

No wonder the Scandivaians swear by them, with the category that is sufficiently crowded with brands like MillsStabburet, Kalles, Kavli etc battling out for market share by commanding fierce loyalties.

However kaviar supposedly has one catch – it is an acquired taste and a first timer might find the taste disgusting

Now that’s where the Kalles Campaign proves to be a genius. (Kalles is a Swedish Kaviar brand)

The campaign holds a mirror to other nationalities’ incomprehension and their reaction at having something that tastes – let’s just say – strong and funny.

It starts with Los Angeles where obviously the Californians don’t hold back their feelings upon tasting something weird.

As it moves to Switzerland, the taste test yields more hand and eyebrow gestures than actual verbal responses.

“It tastes … ” a serious looking man in a tie says. “It tastes … ”

“Fantastic?” the Swede asks.

“No,” the Swiss man replies, with a resolute firmness.

In Budapest, the reaction is icier. A woman takes a bite, exchanges cold glances and upon being asked if she likes it, she smiles, and says “yes,” with a look that clearly says no.

The Costa Ricans laugh and gesticulate.

And the Japanese are very polite even as they appear to be gagging at the taste.

 The Kalles commercials began in 2012 and were made by the Swedish ad firm Forsman & Bodenfors.

As this NYTimes article says, if nothing else these ads are a whimsical cultural excursion into manners.

Now, can anyone get me a Kalles Kaviar please?

I want to try my own gag reflex.

I am really curious!

Now, where am I in the purchase funnel?

(Featured Image Source: My Guilty Pleasures)

Duality And Everything In Between

Quick Read: We seem to have a thing for things that are dual in nature. Be it a town, a person or perhaps even a brand.

Baarle –  a town at the border of the Netherlands and Belgium, is perhaps the world’s strangest international border.

Why?

Because the town is an enclave that consists of pockets of the Netherlands nested inside Belgium, nestled inside the Netherlands.

The result?

The international border cuts through Baarle indiscriminately, crossing streets, dividing roads and slicing through buildings forming Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog – two municipalities that are in Netherlands and Belgium respectively.

Naturally many peculiarities arise.

For e.g., many homes are cut in half by the border, so as a matter of convention each household’s nationality is determined by the location of its front door. Which also decides where taxes are paid. So some houses apparently swap the location of their front doors between countries to benefit from the most favourable taxes!

Baarle House

(Pic: Source )

And if the border runs through the front door, the two parts then belong in different countries, and this is indicated by two street numbers on the building.

So duality has become the central character of Baarle where everything is two fold: two churches, two town halls, two post offices, two fire stations and even two police forces and so on.

And it is this charm of duality that makes Baarle quite popular with tourists around the year.

baarle-nassau-hertog

(Pic Source. HT Credit)

Caitlyn Jenner

Recently an unknown 65-year-old woman has become an internet senstion overnight. She was revleaed to the world through the cover page of Vanity Fair and a Twitter account that amassed 1 million followers in four hours – faster than the account launched by the US president, Barack Obama! Four days later she was up to 2.37 million followers, with another 1.5 million followers on Instagram! (source)

Why?

Perhaps it is the enigma of a duality the Vanity Fair’s cover story revealed.

Caitlyn Jenner

(Pic sources: Bruce Jenner | Caitlyn Jenner)

During the 70s, the Olympic hero William Bruce Jenner had the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete” and nearly 40 years later, in 2015, Bruce became the world’s most high-profile transgender woman named Caitlyn Jenner.

She has now become a hugely powerful cultural figure almost overnight and could soon become an important voice in the transgender rights movement. Apparently even Obama tweeted in response saying “It takes courage to share your story”.

Duality, it seems, has a certain enigma to it! Ask Buzz Bissinger – the Pulitzer winning journalist who crafted Caitlyn’s reveal for Vanity Fair over a period of 3+ months leading to this watershed of a cover story.

Duality & Brands

The human brain is said to possess this intrinsic nature of actively labeling everything it encounters into neatly defined buckets. That’s probably why anything that has a strong duality ends up becoming such a tease to our minds and perceptions.

No wonder then, there are brands that thrive on duality. (The classic Coffy Bite and more recent Cadbury Oreo are some well known Indian exmples)

In fact, this allure of duality seems so high for Twix – a Mars’ chocolate bar brand –  that the brand thrives on teasing out a duality that never actually exists.

twix Dual2

(Source: Twix.com)

See a reel of its “Left Twix vs Right Twix – Pick a side” ads here.

Can you think of any other brands that leverage ‘duality’?

(Featured Image: Twix)

Imagination. For Selling and Unselling

Quick Read: Evoking imagination has always been a classic trick in the marketers’ book. Let’s see some recent examples where it’s been used to sell. And to unsell.

Man-eaters and the ritual of imagination

For four years, Dutch designer Daniel Disselkoen made the same journey on the same tram route to his art academy, and realised that he had stopped looking out of the window and being curious about what he might see. So he developed a simple little real-world hack called Man-eater.

Predicated around the idea that familiarity with a subject, our environment, surroundings or routine can limit discovery, Man-eater is a simple yet compelling call to action to invoke our imagination to make extra ordinary out of the ordinary.

Is at about seeing the world through a child’s eyes? 

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood (yes, there indeed is a museum by that name!) says exactly the same thing in its recent campaign – wherein with a bit of imagination, the medium and the context become the key parts of it’s message. spaceman_aotw

whale_aotw

(Check out the other executions at this blog post)

Banana Bunkers that look like…um.. bananas?

It appears that it doesn’t require a hell lot of imagination to see why this particular product of GroupOn turned to be its most popular post on Facebook ever! Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.28.33 PM But GroupOn’s real imaginativeness came to the forefront in what happened after the post went live.

Knowing full well of what is to come, they decided to stay ahead of the hilarity and replied each and every one of the comments on their Facebook post. Check out this snapshot of the epic comments that followed!

Now that’s some great imaginativeness to combat (and perhaps even abet) imagination!

And meanwhile else where..

Can imagination be used to ‘unsell’?

The Gun Shop‘ had recently popped up on Manhattan with a store front that read “First Time Gun Owners” in big, bold letters. The catch? Each gun in the store had been tagged with its history: from shooting a mom in Walmart to the Sandy Hook massacres. The result: imagination that just ‘unsells’!

This video captures it well.

The Gun Shop has been a pop-up demonstration created by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence – a partner of States United Against Gun Violence that seeks to make families and communities safer.

Can you think of any other examples? 

(Man-eater –  H/T Neil Perkin | Museum of Childhood – H/T L.Bhat)

Featured Image: The Gun Shop store front on Manhattan, Source

Food Is Food Is Food. Or Is It?

Quick Read: Good design can drive a price premium –  and this adage could hold good even in a category like perishables. 

Have you heard of flour by Prada, infant formula by Chanel, coffee by Cartier,  fruits by Nike and pasta by Ferrari?

coffee1

(Source: Peddy Mergui: Wheat is Wheat is Wheat)

Well they do ineed exist. Albeit as exhibits by Peddy Mergui under his series titled Wheat is Wheat is Wheat. These funny and provocative exhibits challenge our notions of branding and perception by casting them against a category like perishables/food.

Eggs by Versace anyone?

Let’s drop brand names for a moment and see how else can a product possibly command a price premium. We know tons of examples across different categories where design has helped a product command a premium.

Now, could design play a prominent role in commanding a premium within a category such as perishables? These two examples prove this point.

1. Whole Foods: 

When it comes to applying design for selling something as commoditised as veggies, there’s only one name. Whole Foods.

Avinash Kaushik recently posted this picture and the following lines regarding what he found at a Whole Foods store.

Avinash Kaushik Whole Foods

(Source: Avinask Kaushik)

“Do we shop at Whole Foods simply because the produce is so exquisitely displayed? And we pay a premium?

I think there is something to that. Look at it! Everything so perfectly symmetrical and lovely. There was a sprinkling of mist on all the veggies, drawing out the color and freshness.

For an engineer, me, all this organization definitely had an impact. It looks good, it shows people care deeply about the food, they went into extra trouble, it must be all good (and it was!).

What a great way to get someone to pay a premium.”

His lines encapsulate everything in this context.

2. Nuna Ice – Cream:

Billed by PSFK as a molecular-gastronomy popsicle that is set to take next summer by storm, Nuna is a design innovation in ice-cream born at the intersection of disciplines such as architecture, design and science.

Nuna(Source: Nuna)

According to it’s spokesperson, the Nuna Popsicle is design innovation in a crystal/pyramid shape, and stands for the ultimate refreshment that reflects the sensation of ice crystals bursting on the tongue while causing a unique and intense tingling in the mouth.

While it is expected to have a soft launch in art openings, fashion shows and music festivals during 2015, Nuna – which got its name trademarked recently – is expected to contract with a major manufacturer soon. (source)

Now that’s form following taste!

(Featured Image: Tiffany & Co Yogurt byPeddy Mergui)

Inspiration From Across The Category Fence

Quick Read: Sometimes, the best idea for a brand campaign might be just around the corner, albeit with another category. Even when the core of the campaign idea is ‘Originality’. And perhaps rightfully so.

Inspiration from across the category fences is no new news. But that’s no excuse why we should take such instances for granted. Some recent examples of brands taking inspiration from other categories and appropriating them in a way that is relevant to their campaign idea/ brand personality. Virtual High Five (Coke – KLM) In May 2013, Coke had this huge hit campaign that ‘connected’ people from different countries (India – Pakistan) through what it called as ‘Small World Machines’.

Cut to this year (Sep 2014),  KLM gave a reason for Amsterdam and New Yorkers to ‘get connected’ through this Virtual High Five campaign.

As this article says, KLM’s deployment of this idea is clever because it underlines the message that while technology has the power to interactively connect people like never before, it’s airlines that have the ability to physically connect people faster, easier and more effectively than we have ever experienced in the past. KLM-Live-High-Five-1-640x340

(Source: Creative Guerrilla Marketing)

Unique, Original & Extraordinary (Absolut – Coke) In Sep 2012, I wrote about Absolut’s brilliant execution of their limited edition design series called Absolut Unique. A story of carefully orchestrated randomness powered by 35 different colors, 51 different pattern types all governed by algorithms meticulously devised to induce a method to this madness of design. absolut-unique-vodka-bottles-02

(Source:Absolut)

Result: A first of its kind design spectacle at a massive scale resulting in over 4 million bottles where no two bottles are alike. See the video here.

And then in 2013, Absolut followed this up with Absolut Originality. Video here.

Cut to this year (Oct 2014), a new campaign for Diet Coke in Israel revolves around the concept “Stay Extraordinary,”  as part of which it produced over 2 million different bottles using a printing system that printed every bottle with a different look. Video here.

Any other examples of well executed campaign ideas inspired from different categories?

(Featured Image: Absolut Originality)

Exploring the Boundaries Of The Traditional Concept

Quick Read: The idea of Traditional Concept and its reliance on metrics like Purchase Intent for validating product ideas is being challenged. More so in the realm of Retro Innovations.  

The Traditional Concept and its classic three part construct – Insight | Benefit | Reason To Believe – to represent a product idea for consumer research has been coming under scrutiny. In fact, there are even obituaries being written about it citing reasons like:

  • It is too rigid, rational and over – engineered as a construct to represent a product idea
  • Puts far more emphasis on our deliberative ‘System 2’ thinking
  • Fails to take into account how consumers tend to make decisions (unconsciously, quickly, swayed far more by emotional impact and immediate impressions)
  • Relies heavily on metrics like purchase intent for validation

Academic arguments apart, one thing that a Traditional Concept cannot possibly help with is screening product ideas that fall into the realm of Retro Innovations – new products that are designed around connecting us with the past and invoking our nostalgia.

Two recent product examples where a traditional concept could have had a tough time cracking the consumer code:

The ‘Miller Light’ Retro Design And Its Placebo Effect

Miller Lite is known as the first mainstream light beer in the US. But over the years, the U.S. sales of the beer had been declining, trailing Bud Light, Coors Light, and Budweiser. Revenue dropped 7 percent in just 2013 (source). So in January 2014, as part of a product placement tie in with the film Anchorman 2, Miller released a limited edition version  of its original 1975 white can.

bottle(The Retro Designed Miller Lite Can)

Surprisingly for Miller Lite, this retro designed packaging proved to be a success (it sold 32 million cans more than that during YTD 2013) that by September 2014 it decided to switch back to this packaging full-time, including on bottles and tap handles.

And reportedly, taken by surprise, when Miller marketers conducted some post launch evaluation, they learnt that the Millennials had liked it because it seemed iconic and old while their parents had liked it because it reminded them of what they used to drink. Strangely, customers even started telling the company its “new” beer tasted better even though they were still drinking the same old beer(!)

Obviously, a Traditional Concept and conventional testing for metrics like Purchase Intent, could not have driven the brand along this unexpected ‘retro’ direction.

Leica M Edition 60 – The Digital Camera Without An LCD Screen

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the legendary Leica rangefinder system, the company recently announced the Leica M Edition 60. The unique thing about this camera is that it does something bold – it ditches the back LCD screen and all onboard menus. One cannot even review their photos. It leaves photographers with physical controls of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. And it forces them to look through just one thing – the viewfinder.

Is this a good idea? Will consumers like it? Does it even make design sense? The debate is on.

But one thing is certain:  this reductionism as a celebration of photographic art – as Leica calls it – could not have been conceived of through the lens of the Traditional Concept and testing for Purchase Intent.

Is the Leica M Edition 60 too high end to be a realistic example here?

Well, then let’s get a bit ‘low end’ – Music CDs and online music.

Let’s think of product ideas in terms of Traditional Concepts and test for their Purchase Intent to sell online music to the Japanese vs the good old CDs. 

And good luck to us doing that!

JAPAN-MUSIC-01-master675(AKB48, a popular Japanese group, has sold CDs containing tickets to its performances, encouraging fans to buy multiple copies. Source)

(Featured Image: The New Leica M Edition 60)