Friday, October 31, 2008

Small comforts

You have to love CNN. How else would I find out in the midst of one of the greatest shifts in our economy for decades that the big selling items in the UK are safes and chocolate? Safe sales have been up 45 percent in the last three months and chocolate up 20 percent over September.

It’s classic fight and flight. Fight the bastards trying to lose your cash by putting it in a safe, and flight to the world of small comforts with the mega-comforter chocolate. That is especially true if it is made by one of my Lovemarks, Cadbury. And let's not forget their Irresistible Gorilla either (Thank you Fallon!)

I expect many people see the purchase of a safe as a highly rational decision, especially in these tumultuous times. I see it as completely emotional and in fact rather romantic. I suspect most people who buy safes aren’t doing it to prevent burglaries but to buy into emotional metaphors for safe-keeping. That’s the way we are. I further suspect that any safe salesperson who found a way to touch this emotional need would be on their way to a tropical island as Salesperson of the Year. For most people safe-sellers are not in the security business at all; they are in the comfort business. The chocolate people have always known that’s where they belonged and built a US$74 billion business on the insight. No one who sells chocolate ever thinks of it as food. Try and talk about chocolate as a food without sounding ridiculous.

Keeping an eye on what your business is really selling to consumers is the way to get focus and stay focused. The archives of every business school are littered with case studies of the many, many companies that have faltered for the want of understanding that, for example, while they thought they were selling cameras, consumers were buying boxes to capture memories. Take a few minutes out to capture what you think you’re selling and then go out and listen to consumers. Is that what they think too?

3 comments:

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I find the concept of separating comfort and security quite odd, as I've always been under the impression that security instills comfort. Isn't the whole point of buying a safe for your home to protect belongings that you otherwise don't want others to get a hold of rather than protect from burglaries. It seems to me like a different type of security.

That being said, I'd have to agree that the way to truly engage a consumer is to make that emotional connection. Something that Polaroid and Kodak failed to capitalize on as the digital revolution broke out. They also failed to innovate.

Oh yes, and chocolate is never food. :) E. Wedel from Poland is my favorite.

Sophee McPhee said...

In 2008, women’s magazines have generally focused on one of two markets: ‘tween fashionistas’ or ‘yummy mummies’. Their pages are saturated with ads, sponsored editorial and articles which pound readers’ self esteem to dust. Their ability to foster intimacy is also hindered by the fact that they adopt a national or international marketing approach. They don’t connect with the unique needs, interests and experiences of ‘Anna Jones from Wogga Wogga’. As such, I believe there is room for something a little more focused, positive, inclusive and authentic in the cut throat world of women’s magazines.

A couple of months ago, I gave birth to Queensland Calendar Girls Magazine. Hopefully, in the years to come, a tailored version the magazine will be available to women in each state of Australia. Inspired by the movie "Calendar Girls" (not the raunchy Ralph Calendars), its purpose and dreams are intertwined with those of Queensland’s Lady Boomers (i.e. women aged 40-70...I've included the outer margins!). A community which is poorly acknowledged by marketers, the Queensland Lady Boomer family is overflowing with mystery just waiting to be shared. The stories, skills, experiences and memories of this ‘prosumer’ group (i.e. QCG’s readers are also its writers) are as interesting as they are diverse.

A hub, which brings all these riches together, QCG Magazine exists to connect, inspire, support, celebrate and inform Queensland Lady Boomers. It’s skin, not plastic, and it’s in the business of building connections and confidence. Beyond the sensuality component, the physical magazine is little more a distribution channel.

KR Connect Community, I'd love to hear your thoughts...

derek said...

Sales of safes are driven entirely by the price of good dark chocolate in the UK. What the market actually wants is is a security fridge.