Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Marketing .. is it Market Research Led .. or just an attempt at Market Manipulation ?



I was reminded the other day of the difference between ‘Good Marketing’ – ie the positive and beneficial placing of a product to its target audience after sound market research has shown a real need - and good old fashioned ‘Market Manipulation’ – where the findings of that same market research are simply ign
ored and a completely different ‘agenda’ is pursued by the Companys Marketing Campaign.


That "Sudden Joy" moment ! !





Two things brought this home. The first was one of those ‘sudden joy” moments … I recently found a box of Shredded Wheat on sale in my local SuperU … and bought it home lovingly and indulged in a long forgotten treat ( being out of the UK for nearly ten years leaves its toll !)


The second trigger was seeing a TV advert last week from good old Ian “Beefy” Botham showing him inside a huge Shredded Wheat ( best place for him some might say).


Ian was banging on about the goodness of the product for the heart and the fact that it contained no additives. Both very admirable and factual observations. No ‘trickery’, no ‘slight of hand’, no ‘hidden agenda’. First class factual marketing telling the audience the benefits of the product. And I for one will not begrudge him his rather large fee cheque that will be arriving in the post shortly no doubt.



Contrast this with the campaign that thrust Ian’s face all over our TV screen some time back. You remember the one .. a rather smug Mr Botham cradling an overloaded bowl of Shredded Wheat and proudly exclaiming ‘Bet you can’t eat three’ ! !



Well … I don’t know about you but I certainly couldn’t and, more to the point, never have wanted to. Just like the dry cream cracker challenge, no matter how hard you try and comfortably eat three Shredded Wheats, the third one just sticks in the throat. If you don’t believe me .. try it.



Now apart from earning our Mr Botham vast sums in appearance fees ( I must have seen that advert at least twenty times) the campaign was a complete marketing failure. Why ? because it ignored the basic rule of good marketing .. that you can’t get people to buy something that they don’t want/need. .. at least not more than once!



So why did they even bother with that ludicrous series of adverts? I’ll tell you why. Because they did some in-depth market research on peoples attitudes to Shredded Wheat. And do you know what came out as the main finding? Most of their customers complained that as the biscuits were wrapped in threes, and almost everybody only ever ate two, they were left with lots of ‘odd ones’ that as they were unwrapped went stale quicker.


Brilliant … and it should have told Shredded Wheat Management that they needed to respond to that observation … ie repackage the product to suit their customers needs . But did they ? .. No …. They decided that they would try and ‘change peoples eating habits’ .. rather than invest in new machinery to change their packaging. A classic example of a “Bad Marketing”.



And do you know what ? .. when I eventually got my newly acquired packet of Shredded Wheat back home from SuperU … and looked inside .. Guess What .. the biscuits are now wrapped in Twos ! ! People Power ONE .. Shredded Wheat management NIL .. ( and Ian Botham ? … about 350,000 I should think !)


....