What Are We Selling?

What Are We Selling?

What Are We Selling?

The first question to be asked is what exactly do we think we are selling? To say that we are selling a breakfast cereal, a tin of shoe polish or a toothbrush-to pick random examples-is not enough. We are making the mistake of approaching the subject from one direction only. Good marketing, as we have seen, should be consumer-orientated. Therefore, it is necessary to rephrase our question and to ask: what does the user think he is buying? One can, in fact, go deeper, in an effort to probe the housewife's likely motivation which results in her decision to purchase. If she is seeking, merely, a breakfast cereal, then she will buy any cereal, regardless of brand. But the sales figures for the various makes of breakfast cereals will show that she does not, in fact, buy any brand. The majority of housewives show an allegiance to a particular brand by their repeated purchases. One would not, perhaps, have thought that there was a marked degree of difference in quality or price between one nationally known make of breakfast cereal and another. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the housewife, in choosing a specific brand, makes a distinction on grounds other than quality and price. Is she influenced in her choice because the brand she selects carries with it a premium offer of some kind? If this is so, then perhaps-it is the premium offer, rather than the cereal itself, that she is really buying?

Let us consider the toothbrush. Brand loyalty in the toothbrush market may not be as prevalent as it is with breakfast foods. People have occasion to buy a new toothbrush less frequently than a packet of cereals. The manufacturers of toothbrushes tell us that, according to their market research, not everybody uses a toothbrush. Of those that do, a large proportion continue to make do with brushes which have become worn and have ceased to do an adequate job of dental care. It is also an established fact that many people buy a new toothbrush prior to going away from home on their summer vacations. From this it is inferred that they would feel ashamed of the condition of their existing brushes if these were to be seen by the seaside landlady or the hotel chambermaid! Thus we can, perhaps, say that consumers' motives for deciding to buy a new toothbrush are:

concern for the care of their teeth

concern for the opinion of others about the way in which they care for their teeth.

If this is true, then we are selling not just a toothbrush, but also health and social acceptability.

Similarly, with regard to our other example, the tin of shoe polish, we can point to the well-known fact that shoe-leather needs a regular application of oils if it is to remain supple and in good condition. When a pair of shoes is seldom cleaned and polished the leather is liable to crack and become porous. Regular shoe-cleaning, therefore, is a form of thrift. But clean shoes have another merit: that of imparting a good appearance to the wearer. Thus, we find that we are not merely selling shoe polish: we are selling economy and we are, once again, selling social acceptability.

Advertising specialists will endeavour to establish these under lying motives for consumer purchases and to reflect them in their preparation of the advertising platform for the product.

Site links - The Product 2012

Please Note

The Trade is, of course, a major source of product ideas. All manufacturers examine, with avid interest, the new products of their competitors.

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