Consumers are fickle for the most part. And we have technology to thank for that.
With the acceleration of technical shifts, consumers have been trained to expect the new, whether that means better, faster, shinier, or just different. The prevailing argument---that some consumers will gravitate toward things they know because they can’t deal with so much complexity and so many choices---does not hold up. The reality is that a majority of consumers feel compelled to keep up with progress, either by necessity, for social reasons, or because they have accepted it as the norm.
But is this simply leading to commoditization? Marketers need to create more loyalty or, at least, make a long-lasting difference in a day and age when the art of browsing prevails over the idea of commitment.
Brands need to focus their efforts on proactively capturing a consumer’s attention at key trigger moments when change is still deliberate. Strong brands can truly re-engage with consumers on a deeper level by embracing those trigger moments and analyzing how they inform changes in attitudes.
General Motivators for Change
To better align behavioral change with attitudinal change, we must first determine the emotional drivers of change. This requires segmenting among different consumer groups.
1. The evolutionary consumer adapts to change by necessity and has developed a rationale belief that the next generation of stuff will bring compound benefits that justify re-visiting a product or a service. This type of consumer will constantly investigate and develop a clear point of view until the conditions are there to change ship.
Key triggers for this type of consumer are based on rational necessity.
2. The socially aware consumer is primarily motivated by peer pressure or by the desire to be or feel ahead of the curve. But not all categories prompt an adoption of change. Therefore, we must understand their relationship to a given category to determine if it lends itself to a meaningful trigger moment.
3. Consumers born with change in mind. We may refer to them as "millenials," but tomorrow they will be everywhere. Born during an era defined by technology, this generation is expecting change (because it fits their values of experimentation), and it doesn’t associate a benefit to change.
Marketers need to build strategies that will effectively turn trigger moments into recruitment opportunities.
Talking About Trigger Moments
If trigger moments are the real sign of a deliberate attitudinal change, marketers should be able to design campaigns around them to create preference and engagement, and overcome fickle decisions. Trigger moments should inform businesses about what a brand should look like, feel like, and communicate when a serious decision is being made.
For example, a car brand trying to attract affluent professionals should focus on trigger moments, such as a career milestone or a critical life stage. A young professional is more likely to consider buying or trading up when seriously dating (to help seal the deal) or just getting promoted (to reward himself). Plan your strategy (whether promotion or retail) based on these triggers.
Another example is a mom who changes her food shopping habits after the first child (for obvious reasons) and the third child (change of perceived portion/inventory) are born. Track these demographic changes, and build them into your promotional plans as well as your innovation strategy.
By determining the change of emotions (both positive and negative) towards your category at each critical trigger moment, you can identify new insights that will lend themselves to untapped innovation platforms.
Structuring your portfolio around trigger moments will help to define the role of each product/brand by aligning them with a specific target and set of need states. For a portfolio of personal care products, understanding the impact of such triggers as signs of visible age (e.g., acne or wrinkles) or life-changing events (such as child birth or surgery) can help identify discrete need states and ensure that the portfolio is addressing them.
So, consumers' fickle behaviors may not be all bad news after all---as long as you can identify impulsive changes from deliberate changes and handle them strategically.
To find out if you are making the most out of the power of trigger moments, ask yourself the following.
- What are the critical trigger moments that define a potential change of attitude for my top two targets in my category?
- What changes (if any) does this trigger elicit (either positive or negative) in consumers' minds?
- Is my brand addressing these changes in attitudes?
- Which other brand (or brands) in the portfolio or organization is best positioned to address these changes in attitudes?
- Do these trigger moments yield new insights that could lend themselves to innovation platforms?