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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gary Witt

How to Help Insure Your Brand Will Succeed!

There are over 33,000 new products introduced each year, mostly grocery and health/beauty products. And nearly all of them -- over 85% -- fail to meet their sales goals! The failure of most new products proves that money can't buy success.

There are some products with tiny marketing budgets, and others like Crystal Pepsi. Consumers didn't care that Pepsi had spent $100 million. They looked at it on the shelf, then reached for "real" caramel-colored Pepsi.

Marketing Psychology tells us there are two questions which are key to a realistic prediction about any new product. Both come from the aphorism “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” another way of saying “You can show your customer what you are selling, but you can’t make him buy.”

The two relevant questions are (1) "Why does the horse drink?" and (2) "What would keep him from drinking?" The first question focuses on the buyer's "needs," "wants" and "desires," while the second is concerned with the buyer's "fears." Buying is a complex psychological process driven by logic and (especially) emotions. Answering The Two Questions Guides You

Let’s look at Go Gurt, a barnburner kids food product which had every chance to fail, but didn’t because its marketers had the right answers to both questions. General Mills didn’t try to make the horse drink, it created a product that would satisfy an existing "thirst" so the horse would want to drink. AND it removed any fears that would stop the horse from drinking – like an “un-cool,” adult image, or a messy package.

General Mills introduced Go-Gurt nearly 20 years ago. It is yogurt in soft plastic tubes with flavors like Chill Out Cherry, Berry Blue Blast, and Sour Patch Kids. Last year they sold over a billion tubes! In 2000, TIME called Go-GURT “the fastest-selling yogurt product ever released.” Its target market are active grade school children and, of course, their moms, who buy it.

Imagine this kitchen scene. Mom says to little Johnny, “Would you like a tube of yogurt in your lunchbox today?” Johnny says, “Ugh! No!!”

That was the big hill General Mills had to climb – WHY would a kid WANT to eat something as adult and uncool as yogurt, especially in front of his/her friends?

To answer that question, you have to ask “Why would the horse want to drink?” Both kids and moms have distinct sets of psychological buying motivations. For example, kids want a good-tasting sweet snack that's simple to eat, easily carried without spilling, and has a 'cool' image. Moms want a healthy snack that will please her child, won't spoil or spill, doesn't take any time to prepare, and has good value. A Go Gurt brand manager said, “We could show moms that this was a healthy snack, but we needed kids to think it was like eating sweets, candy. The names did that.”

Why Gu Gurt's Marketing Works

Underlying these surface motives are deeper, unconscious motivations -- ones the kids need to satisfy. Children certainly want a sweet snack, but they also want adventure, to feel admired by peers, to feel special by using brand new products especially designed for them, to not feel like a 'little kid,' etc. Sweet snacks which feed their psyche as well as their stomach will have the marketing edge.

How does Go-Gurt feed their psyche? Look at the packaging. The packaging features cartoon character kids having fun skateboarding while gripping several colorful Go-Gurt "portable yogurt" sticks. Its sweeping pattern of strong red, blue, and yellow primary colors says its exciting, not a "namby-pamby" snack. The edgy cartoon, a grinning boy with a modern haircut slashing through red space on his skateboard says this snack is for cool, active kids who others admire.

Its unstated promise is that a kid will never be embarrassed by eating it in front of friends. The blond boy is squeezing purple yogurt out of a big plastic tube, showing how easy it is to eat, and that it comes in cool food colors grown-ups would hate, like blue and purple. Finally, the whole image says this is a kids' product, not one which grown-ups might also like. Even the product name and flavors are cool, different, and active.

Grabbing Their Emotions

Go-Gurt's entire marketing message for kids is visual. It zips by the higher-order verbal processing centers in the brain and shoots right into their emotions with a powerful visual message -- "This is a cool product, so you'll look cool if you use it." Sound familiar? Its the same emotional message cigarette makers have used for decades.

On the other hand, Go-Gurt's message for mom is mainly logical and verbal. While the visuals tell her that it’s a snack for cool kids -- and what mom doesn't want to think her kid is cool? – it is the words that satisfy her underlying buying motivations for protection, love, self-worth, and time. She reads that Go-Gurt is made by trustworthy General Mills and Yoplait, a proven leader in high quality yogurt. She knows the product and package look so cool that her child will like it, which will make her feel loved and happy. She knows the cool, candy-like flavor names will be enticing. She knows yogurt is a healthy snack, one which a Good Mother would select. And the "portable yogurt" label suggests this product won't demand any of her scarce time to prepare, so she'll save time without feeling guilty.

Go-Gurt's successful advertising and marketing all play on satisfying these deep psychological themes. Your customers have them, too. Find your answers to the two questions and you will improve your marketing messages.

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