September 28, 2022

Want vs. Need vs. Emotional Benefit

The Professional tweets and says "Kevin, Loyalty programs work! Just look at Starbucks for proof."

That's not proof.

Starbucks sells an addictive substance with emotional benefits.

You sell widgets.

Starbucks checks all three boxes. You want the item. The content of the item is addicting, so you need the item.  Then you get your Honey Almondmilk Flat White with a heart forged via magic marker.

You accomplish those three things, and you can create any number of games to encourage customers to visit more often.

But you sell widgets.

In some cases the customer needs the widget. The NewPig Pig Absorbent Mat Pad in Dispenser Box comes to mind. If most of what you sell is "needed", your rebuy rates are higher and you have a reasonable chance of implementing a Loyalty Program.

In most cases, we sell products that the customer might want. You don't need Griot's Garage Car Wash, do you? You have to want it. And there isn't really an emotional benefit tied to it. So if the brand sells a lot of this stuff, there isn't need and there isn't emotional benefit across the assortment. This is where Acquisition trumps Loyalty. Go find somebody who wants something like this product right now.

Emotional Benefits, if you get them right, lend themselves to fat gross margins and wonderful Loyalty Programs. A Man doesn't necessarily want or need BLEU DE CHANEL Eau de Parfum Spray from Ulta. But there are emotional benefits associated with the product. Yeah, Loyalty Programs work here.

Loyalty Programs work when rebuy rates are high and purchase frequency is high. Those situations are satisfied by selling something that a customer Needs, or by selling something that a customer receives an Emotional Benefit for.

You sell widgets. The customer likely wants the widget, but doesn't need the widget and doesn't obtain any emotional benefits for using the widget. These end up being low rebuy / low purchase frequency situations, requiring the marketer to focus on Acquisition.


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