So I’m about to have a baby. Which is both hugely exciting and full of learnings, most of them predictable.
One of the less predictable learnings has been about how we shop for stuff. Not that I didn’t have strong views about the act of shopping already, just that it’s rare in life to need to buy so much stuff and spend so much money on a category you know so little about.
In short, shopping around in the ocean of baby stuff helped to refresh my insights into how anyone buys anything these days.
Here are my three headlines.
ONE. Advertising doesn’t influence, but brand does. There is no question in my mind that our shopping was framed by the experience of friends, and then informed by a combination of what was on display in stores and what was recommended to us through a combination of blogs and classes. At no stage has advertising had a dominant influence on our desire to purchase items. Brand, on the other hand, has been seriously influential. Product design, packaging, sales materials, storytelling, heritage, websites, brand personality, feedback on customer service issues, personality and tone of voice…every piece of data on the brands we have been interacting with has been part of our decision. Advertising has, at times, been one piece of that brand jigsaw. That’s all.
TWO. Reviews matter, a lot, both in traditional and new media. The difference? They no matter more than ever, because there’s more of them. And more information means more pressure to access information. And more connectedness means more likelihood that somewhere among the branded content and biased one-offs will be tens or even hundreds of relevant opinions and insights.
THREE. The retail experience is key. Distribution, display, retail staff engagement…it’s all critical. Critical. Just like the consumer electronics category…most product is sold in large, soulless, multi-brand stores where individual brands and products easily get lost. The only way to win in there is through price, unshakable consumer preference, or sales staff advocacy. I know which I’d bet on every time.
That’s it. No rocket science. No revelations. But instead a timely reinforcement of long-held instincts.