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Product Claims - What really motivates the consumer?

There is an increasing complexity about the claims that companies wish to make about their products. To understand which are most motivating to the consumer and in what context is vital in the success of both new and existing products.

We only need to look at a yogurt as an example – which are the most motivating health claims – low fat, low sugar, natural? – environmental claims – recycling, source of ingredients? – ethical claims – animal welfare, human exploitation? Over and above this there are taste and texture claims – most tasty and creamy. Then, there are claims linked to usage and convenience – ideal for breakfast, on the go? Finally, we have emotional claims linked to brand positioning – such as fun and trustworthy.

What we do know is that inevitably a product's long term success relies on being tasty for food and drink products or performing (E.G. cleans) well for non-food items. So over and above these there is a need to understand what claims are most motivating.

There is a danger that companies (and we see this often with start-ups) tend to want to make and put claims on every part of their packaging and communication. More often, trying to put down all claims, whether on a pack or in advertising, can only serve to confuse and to the point where it is unbelievable. It can take away from those core motivations of does it taste nice or does it clean well or is it easy to use.

There is a clear need from a commercial perspective as to what claims are most motivating and to understand the best combination of claims. This can be in terms of implied linkage – if you claim 100% natural for example, then many positive health and sustainability claims can be implied. Or it could be which two types of claims go best together to motivate the maximum number of consumers? A combination of one taste and one key health claim may be ideal for a product pack for example.

We also need to determine what claims are most motivational at the different points that consumers interact with a product. A pack in store or seen online needs to ensure that the brand is known so the logo is of key importance – this means that core only claims should be visible on pack. Too often we see a whole host of claims plastered over a pack that leaves a cluttered look and takes away from the ease of stand out and awareness.

Supporting claims can be more numerous in advertising but again don’t over complicate, a clear message is key. Even then, depending on the channel, some claims are more suitable and impactful. Sustainability and environmental claims perhaps come more to the fore on social media where there is a more targeted younger audience.

Outside of the consumer there may be a need to have a more targeted set of claims to business investors and the trade for a product – sustainable and ethical claims become more prominent.

All this goes to show that there is a need to unravel the complexities and for companies to have a clear “claims plan” for their product incorporated within the wider brand plan.

There are several interacting measures that require evaluation:

  • What are the claims that drive the category?

  • What are the claims that are most motivating for individual products and what is the hierarchy of claims?

  • What are the emotions and reactions that surround a particular claim?

  • How do claims interact with each other?

  • What is the best way of describing a claim? E.g., low in fat, 0% fat, fat free, reduced fat…?

Then, there is a requirement to understand which work best at the different touch points of a product but to also ensure a continuity of claims messaging across these touch points.

At Touchstone, we have the expertise to help companies optimize a claims strategy. We use a suite of research techniques that we adapt into a bespoke study for each product and brand. These include:

  • Behaviour Change techniques to understand category claims

  • Neuroscience including MindTrace and Timed Emotional Response to measure implicit and rational reactions to claims

  • Conjoint techniques to understand drivers, hierarchy of importance and best combination of claims

  • Pack Testing – to ensure claims are maximized on packs in the context of brand logos, pack design and other pack information

For more information on claims testing contact:

Ian Hext

To read more from our latest edition of our Shopper StockTake Report - 2021 Shocks & Switches, click here.

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