Ian Humphris, joint managing director of marketing consultancy Life Agency.
When it comes to marketing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and fashion seem to be polar opposites. What lessons can a trudge around a supermarket provide for an aspirational brand?
But marketing lessons can be found where you least expect them. FMCG grocery is the most competitive category there is
and FMCG brands are masters at understanding customers.
Brands that achieve results in FMCG use sophisticated tools to mine great insights, create sales-focused creative ideas, plot the consumer journey and execute brand strategies to generate sales. When it comes to applying these marketing techniques, most fashion brands are in the foothills.
In FMCG the product, packaging, store position, promotion and every little detail has to work towards convincing the consumer in the few seconds it takes for them to choose a brand.
If brands don’t win at this point, then it’s game over.
One effective insight of shopper marketing is that it may not be the consumer who is buying the product. For example, 100% of marketing spend on beer is targeted at men, yet 73% of beer in grocery is bought by women. In fashion, two-thirds of men rely on women to buy their underwear.
Do communications in store acknowledge this dichotomy and, more importantly, act on it?
The best fashion retailers realise they can learn from FMCG. Zara gorges on consumer feedback and introduces changes so quickly that consumers barely notice.
Like a supermarket, it constantly restocks and creates impulse purchases with a “when it’s gone, it’s gone” approach.
Elsewhere, the lessons still need to be learned. Supermarket owners don’t have it easy - right now the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are trying to grab back some of the market share lost to discounters such as Aldi and Lidl. But maybe it’s time that other fashion marketers stopped looking at Vogue for inspiration and took a trip to Waitrose - which is enjoying a very warm spring at the moment.