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Education, education, education



On the surface, it can be difficult to develop a product or brand’s personality when the goods are relatively straightforward and have a clear single use. Yet fewer than one in ten consumers have no emotional engagement at all with a product’s provenance, which suggests that most people welcome the additional information that can bring a product to life.

Whether it’s a soft drink or a pair of socks, character can humanise a product and create an experience for shoppers which sets it apart from the competition. To do this, brands need to educate their target market and effectively create a personality for them to interact with.

There are two distinct ways brands, retailers and manufacturers can do this – giving consumers knowledge of the product, and giving them knowledge of their values.

Brand values vs product knowledge

Innocent was a trailblazer for the product knowledge method. Its quirky approach to telling shoppers about its simple ingredients has been widely copied, particularly in the organic and free-from food market, and helped it retain the position of best-selling smoothie brand for the past five years. Meanwhile, the technique of educating customers about brand values is being used by food retailers across the price spectrum.

The #LidlSurprises advertising campaign pursued an actively open approach to communicating the provenance of the retailer’s products, stimulating a response among consumers which helped bolster its image and premiumise its lines. Aldi’s use of social media to promote its products works in much the same way, in particular by dispelling antiquated ideas about discount supermarkets by comparing itself to its more traditional competitors. If brands are looking to generate both product and brand knowledge simultaneously, offering consumers an engaging backstory can be very effective.

Making a brand come alive in this way gives shoppers something to relate to, and a reference point when deciding which product to pick up off the shelf. It’s no surprise that of the top 10 most chosen FMCG brands in the UK, seven can be considered brands with a strong British heritage – for shoppers, choosing one of these brands over another can feel like returning home to an old and trusted friend.

Fast track to credibility

Backstory isn’t limited to existing brands. In crowded markets such as craft beer, new entrants are drawing on their local credentials or unusual ingredients – making consumers feel more knowledgeable about the products and fast-tracking their route to becoming a credible brand name. This is why being able to drink a pint two miles from where it was brewed is an experience for which customers are willing to pay a premium.

This does not need to be limited to premiumisation. A more proactive approach to sharing knowledge is a powerful tool in changing perceptions, such as McDonald’s use of virtual reality (VR) tours of its providers’ farms to dispel consumer myths around the quality of it ingredients.

This is an excerpt from our report "How does that make you feel?" about the power of consumer experiences. Get your copy of the report today, and watch the video in which Fiona Keenan explains how a compelling backstory can give your brand an experiential edge. 

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Fiona Keenan

Business Unit Director, Health and Beauty


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