Wednesday 29 July 2009

Trial: The holy grail !

Remember the last time you tried a new brand or product - how did you feel?

Let me take you back a week
As a happy Coke zero consumer, (and an occasional Sprite zero drinker) I happened to be thirsty and needed a drink whilst shopping in Target. So on auto pilot I searched for Coke zero and couldn’t find it in the chillers by the checkout (I don’t like Diet Coke).

A sudden appearance
Now, all of a sudden I noticed diet Pepsi. Why did I notice ? Well in the last few months Pepsi has rolled out new designs across the lineup, and they just seem to attract me that little bit more, and as they were the same price as Coke I thought why not try diet Pepsi. Why am I telling you all this, well it’s because I absolutely love diet Pepsi, in fact I prefer it to Coke Zero.

I have defected from Coke zero after one trial of diet Pepsi !

The Power of New
As a brand manager this experience troubles me. It seems that my action was sparked by 3 things:
a) there was no real risk to my decision, after all I was thirsty, so I was desperate to consume anything cold and wet.
b) no incremental cost - ie diet Pepsi was the same price as the Coke equivalent, BUT
c) there was something new and interesting about Pepsi. The new packaging design made me feel different about Pepsi, it made me think differently about Pepsi, it helped interest me enough to try Pepsi.

What's going through your mind ? Do diet Pepsi know that their taste beats Coke zero ? Am I going to revert back to Coke ? Why doesn't Target have Coke Zero in the chillers ?

It feels liberating to try something new, and I guess Pepsi were counting on that simple response.ix74wmjf2r


  1. Haven't you just played out the issue of consumer loyalty, or lack of it. Your resulting transaction, in this instance was based purely on 'need'. You were thirsty, and required something 'wet' to provide you with that instant hit of refreshment. Your drink of choice was not available, so you leapt out of your comfort zone and gambled on Diet Pepsi satisfying that need. Low and behold your thirst was quenched and a Diet Pepsi advocate was born. Or was it. What happens the next time you are in a store with a big thirst on? You say to yourself "I fancy a nice cold Diet Pepsi". So off you trot to the fridge cabinet (that is what they are called in the UK) and seek out that Diet Pepsi. But guess what? There is NO Diet Pepsi (because everyone read your blog and sales have rocketed!). But there is plenty of Coke Zero. So a dilemma presents itself. Do you walk away thinking, "I am not that thirsty after all and I'll pick one up from another store (or just make do till I get home)" or do you break your new found loyalty and pick up a Coke Zero? The packaging is the same as it always was and you know that you quite like it (you already said as much) and it is the same price. I think you know the answer.

    So I ask you, what is the biggest driver to consumer product sales? Need or brand loyalty? In a market where comparable substitutes are always available, brand loyalty is increasingly difficult to achieve. Small things (widgets, offers, new bottle shape) could make all the difference. But does that breed brand loyalty or promotional junkies?

    Alternatively, you could just pick up a Fanta Orange? Or Sunkist...

  2. Hey Nik, Thanks for the comments. To answer your question - yes I am indeed now loyal to Pepsi ! and have been for the past 2 weeks. So depsite the opportunity to switch back I haven't. My view remains, that you should drive trial when you believe you have a compelling (superior) proposition, and consumers will pay you back with $$ and hopefully loyalty !

  3. I wouldn't disagree with driving trial. After all, how else are you going to get people to try your product? My second question still stands, though. Through trial, are you attracting the right audience that will remain loyal once they have sampled and realised what a great taste Diet Pepsi has, or are you attracting promotional tarts who will fling you on the scrap heap the moment a serious competitor comes up with a compelling offer? If I take a look at your situation again, your purchase was based on a very immediate need. The purchase decision was impulsive. Therefore, you were far more susceptible to an 'offer' which could result in trialling a competitor product.

    More considered purchases i.e. ones that are planned prior to reaching the store and have become a staple addition to the weekly shopping basket is where the real battle of loyalty is won and lost. If the trialling of impulse type purchases leads to a regular bulk-buying addition to the weekly shop, then mission accomplished. ......until, of course, the other lot do a compelling offer and the cycle starts again!

    Incidentally, I am a Diet Coke fan. And loyal to boot...