Psychology and sugar

Sir, Nearly half of us are ‘on the journey’ to reducing our sugar consumption, according to new research by Future Thinking. This, of course, is great news for fmcg brands with low sugar or sugar-free offerings. It is also an interesting example of deep behavioural change - a complex area that few brands know how to effectively deal with.

Behaviour change always involves the same psychological stages, from precontemplation (the stage where an individual is not even thinking about changing consumption behaviour) through to action and maintenance.

However, it is rarely a straightforward journey. People will travel forwards and backwards, even to the extent of achieving maintenance and relapsing to the precontemplation stage.

Understanding the drivers and barriers for each psycholgical stage in the journey, how to encourage progression rather than the status quo, is fundamental.

Brands need to develop a model for analysing behaviour change, so that they can quantify, predict and explain a consumer’s likelihood and motivation to change behaviour.

Whether it’s to encourage consumers to try new products, or supporting the journey to healthy eating, understanding and harnessing behaviour change will give brands an edge. Contemplate that.

Catherine Elms, senior research director, Future Thinking

Online advantage in store

Sir, With the trend for online retailers moving into physical stores continuing to grow, such as Amazon acquiring more than 450 Whole Foods Market stores and introducing lockers into them, brands should consider how they’re going to retain their current audience and keep them satisfied.

Broadly speaking, the typical online shopper is often younger and more savvy when it comes to marketing ploys, so retailers creating an in-store presence need to be innovative to stand out from the ferociously competitive crowd.

Bringing so-called ‘infotainment’ into stores is a sure-fire way to give consumers what they want and make the transfer from online to store seamless.

The beauty of online purchasing is that we can get the items we want, when we want. For example, consumers want to know that they can get the exact product they desire without having to try another store; with the online shopping process, it’s very rare that your required product is out of stock, so the in-store experience really should replicate this crucial element of customer satisfaction.

Other innovations such as holograms giving product demonstrations are likely to create excitement among shoppers and as a result build brand loyalty.

Stuart Geekie, managing director of HMY Group (UK)