Maintaining Sales in a Declining Market

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Growing sales in a growing market is easy. Maintaining sales in a declining market is what differentiates good marketers. But how is it done?

There is normally no shortage of generally recognised reasons for a whole category decline but these tend to be rational and obvious and if the answer was to simply respond to the obvious then it would be easy. If carbonated soft drinks were declining just because they contain too much sugar then the problem would have been solved with sugar-free versions, but it isn’t.

The real problem is that there has been a change in the psyche of the consumer. This change may have been prompted by something obvious such as a change in attitudes towards sugar content, but how this affects the way that the consumer sees the category is not always rational or logical.

Every time a consumer consumes your product it gives them a whole series of emotional messages. These messages are invariably mixed and often conflicting. A chocolate bar is relaxing and calming as well as stimulating. It gives us sustaining and energy giving messages as well as fattening and bad for me. When the consumer psyche shifts the balance of the way that they interpret these messages changes.

So, if your category is declining you need to understand all the messages that your product is giving to your consumers and which elements of the consumption experience and of your communications are prompting which emotional responses. You need to understand how your consumer psyche is changing and which elements of your product are prompting an emotional response in the consumer that is no longer relevant or maybe is increasingly negative. And you need to know how to change your product and your communications to send more of the right and less of the inappropriate messages.

When you are dealing with consumer emotions what you need to do is not always logical and very rarely obvious. But when you get it right it can make a huge difference – and the difference in sales can be even greater while your competitors are still groping around with the logical and obvious solutions.

Do you understand all the emotional messages of your product, how they are prompted by the consumption experience and your communications and do you understand how consumer attitudes to each of these messages might be changing?

We have helped companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, GSK… with problems like this in markets around the world. If you think you might need our help too, drop me a message.

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