Anyone who has been involved in the launch of a new and/or innovative product knows the importance of communicating its benefits. But even if consumers are convinced that your product is right for them and are triggered to make a purchase, other forces may be working against you. Those forces are barriers to action – such as a concern about convenience, taste or substantiation – aspects of the product that you may falsely take for granted. When those barriers are not met with thoughtful reassurances, they can easily become deal-breakers.
For instance, a consumer may be attracted to purchase a ‘light’ ice cream because of its promise of less calories and sugar (trigger) but may also harbour serious doubts that it will taste good (barrier). Those latter doubts may be strong enough to prevail over the appeal of the health benefits and ultimately prevent a purchase. However, when the ice cream brand communicates taste, the consumer is reassured that it will indeed taste good and the connected barrier will be overcome. This allows the health benefits to trigger a purchase. Thus, one has increased the likelihood that the consumer will at least try the ‘light’ ice cream.
By conducting specific research into the triggers and barriers for and against buying a product, one can create compelling reassurances that will effectively close the deal. This can be best carried out through a three-step process:
Step 1: List the potential triggers and barriers to using your product. This can usually be carried out in collaboration with an internal marketing or product team if there is sufficient market and consumer knowledge within your company. Alternatively, research strategies (briefly outlined below) can be utilized to help uncover the most prdontdontevalent triggers and barriers.
Step 2: Quantitatively validate the importance of each trigger and barrier. This enables you to see how much of the market possesses a particular trigger or barrier, and which are most important for your communication efforts.
Step 3: Ask your consumers to identify reassurances that can help them to overcome their barriers in order to provoke trial or increase usage. Ideally, these consumers should either be potential first time users or those who do not engage in repeat trials.
A full understanding of triggers and barriers to action helps to reveal the full decision-making process of consumers when they are considering a purchase. A product runs the risk of failing to convince a consumer at every stage of the decision-making process. However, one can use triggers and barriers to increase the likelihood that the consumer will at least try the product as long as he or she is willing to pay for the cost of purchase.
For very expensive items or new-to-market products, pricing should be considered as an independent trigger and/or barrier. However, if willingness to pay is not a key step for the brand or category in question, it need not be forced into a consumer’s decision-making process.
Designing the study
Prior to running a triggers and barriers study, researchers typically define separate lists of statements to test as triggers, barriers and reassurances through preliminary qualitative research. There is a wide variety of sources from which these statements can be found, such as a brand’s existing key claim, a tagline, or any form of communication that is directed towards consumers. Statements can also be derived from aspects of other brands or products that dissatisfy consumers, or those that are genuinely appreciated and could thus be mimicked.
What is key to developing an optimal communications strategy is to gauge a consumer’s known or unanticipated triggers or barriers, which can be accomplished by including cheap topamax 50mg open-ended questions. By incorporating open-end questions into the design, researchers can combine qualitative with quantitative results from the triggers and barriers method, to provide a full understanding of how to best formulate a communications strategy.
While the main purpose of the study is to gain category level insights, it is also possible to gain a better understanding of what statements apply most to key brands. After identifying which triggers and barriers hold true category-wide, one can explore the more specific statements relevant to key brands. For example, a category trigger for energy drinks might be “keeps you sharp, energetic and focused,” while a statement such as “a shot of long lasting energy that takes just seconds to take” is more likely to be linked exclusively to one brand. All energy drinks are expected to provide you with energy; only certain brands will resonate with the promise of quick ingestion.
Linking reassurances to barriers
An essential element of the proposed methodology is to identify ways to overcome barriers, allowing consumers to use the product without any concerns or doubts. In other words: what marketers can say to reassure consumers that the barrier they are facing is not applicable to the product and can thus be eliminated. It should be noted that these statements about barriers do not have to be restricted by the relevant triggers. They could also include more “reason to believe” statements that are not triggers per se but statements that could become very relevant in reassuring people that a specific barrier can be bested.
To better illustrate the differences that can exist between triggers and reassurances, let’s look again at the first example of a ‘light’ ice cream. In this scenario, the idea of a lighter option is appealing to consumers but they still have concerns about its taste. Communicating that the ice cream has 30% fewer calories, or that it has less fat than other ice creams, is a way to trigger the consumer to try the product. However, this fails to address the concerns of taste and leaves the consumer with lingering doubts. To reassure the consumer, the brand might state that the ‘light’ ice cream tastes just as good as regular ice cream. While the statement about taste may not be as effective as the statement about health in terms of triggering trial or uptake, it can be vital to the communications effort in reassuring the consumer to overcome his/her barrier.
The end result of a triggers and barriers study is a thorough understanding of what prompts consumers to use your product, as well as the most crucial barriers that prevent them from wholeheartedly embracing your offer. By also focusing on reassurance statements, marketers and communicators are able to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications in terms of overcoming these barriers and ultimately increasing product trial and usage.
This process delivers a forecasting instrument that determines what portion of the market can be reached by combining the right concept with benefits and reassurances. For example, if we know that 75% of those who do not use deodorant avoid it because they believe it causes cancer, we can also determine what percentage of those individuals could be converted with a reassuring statement that the product has been proven to be safe for your health. With this knowledge, marketers should be able to define an optimal communication strategy that can simultaneously prompt consumers to use a product while also removing any and all doubts that stand in their way.
By Scott Garrison, Project Manager, SKIM and Robin de Rooij, Director Asia Pacific, SKIM