I met an accountant at a Networking event. When he understood that I helped Small Companies grow through SOUND Sales & Marketing support he posed a question.
“What do you consider is a great example of first class marketing?” A good question, and one that I had an answer to, as I have always admired this example that we can all relate to.
So, here goes….. the subject of soap, yes, the stuff we all use, some more than others!
“Once upon a time there were bars of soap. Everybody used them (except one guy in my village). You could buy them in multipacks, and they were in abundance on the shelves in any supermarket. One day (many years ago), some clever upstart came up with an idea for liquid soap in a simple dispenser. In fairness it had been around for a while in the commercial world. But now it was being offered to the public. And it was between 5-10 times the price, and lasted 25% of the time. AND THE CONSUMERS LOVED IT, we all (all that is except the guy in my village) went out and bought it.
I recently went to a well known UK supermarket beginning with M. They had 3 bars of soap for £0:60 – a bargain. By contrast a single liquid soap cost typically £1:50, although there were some offers at £0:99 (333ml in volume).
I carried out a ‘highly scientific’ experiment. I placed a brand new liquid soap container next to a wash hand basin in my home and used it until such time as it ran out. It lasted just over 2 weeks. Then, I used a bar of soap in similar circumstances. Some 7 weeks on it is still there. Of course there are inevitably variables in my study.
Nevertheless, lets look at the figures, with a bias towards inaccuracies in my calculation.
Each bar of soap cost £0:20. Let us say it only lasted 5 weeks. That works out at £0:04 per week.
Each container of liquid soap cost £0:99. Let us say it lasted 3 weeks. That works out at £0:33 per week.
Now, many homes have a kitchen sink, a bathroom, and perhaps a spare closet. So let us assume there are 3 ‘sites’ in a household (there are 7 in mine including bath & shower!) where soap would be used. This means that the cost is almost £52 per year per household for liquid soap against £6:24 for the ‘old fashioned’ bar of soap.
Just go to the soap aisle in the supermarket, if you are French you may need directions. You will see a mass of liquid soaps, very few bars of soap.
Now lets extrapolate this to say 10,000,000 households (again underestimated). The big guys have transformed a £62.4m market into a £520m market. And the consumer didn’t even notice. And I have not included all the businesses and commercial premises using soap.
Now, that is SMART MARKETING. No twitter, no social media. Just plain first class marketing. How the big guys, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and others have changed consumers buying habits.”
The accountant said to me that when asked, most people he had talked to about Marketing had gone on and on about harnessing the internet, twitter, facebook and the like. However he felt that this example really got to the subject. The account then joked that “it was probably a smart accountant that came up with the idea”…. (yes, ‘accountant’ and ‘joke’ in the same sentence), to which I responded “either that or a poor chemist”.
So, when you approach marketing, think about what the consumer may want in the future. Think about how buying habits can change. Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, yes, all important, but I meet so many ‘marketeers’ who only understand the mechanics of the internet, without understanding REAL marketing.