A lot of us work on brands or products that are completely or partially misunderstood in culture. Of course figuring out that something is misunderstood is fairly straight forward. Even simple surveys will help us do that.
The problem comes when we attempt to solve the issue or correct the misunderstanding. We quickly realize —
- It’s easy to be misunderstood. But very difficult to correct an inaccurate perception.
- Logical ideas and scientific approaches just don’t work.
A while ago we had a food retailer tell us that no matter what they do they can’t seem to shake off the perception that their produce isn’t fresh. Despite numerous initiatives to empirically correct the issue and logically communicate the correction, they hadn’t been able to break out of the perception that they do not carry the freshest ‘fruits and veg’.
To solve the perceptual misfire, we knew we had to identify the meanings that create the perception and of course, examine those meanings that go beyond obvious logic – those are often the places where the gains can be truly made. Exploring the meanings that shape people’s perception of freshness allowed us to identify the not-so-obvious connection to food waste. In essence, the consumer believed that if a retailer has the freshest produce, then they must also have a best-in-class food waste program so as to not only minimize waste but also ensure that excess food is donated to various communities programs. It’s not one of those obvious connections but once it was uncovered, it just made so much logical sense.
If you believe you offer the freshest produce, then you must demonstrate that you truly value your product offering. And the best way to demonstrate its value is by minimizing waste and maximizing the benefit to consumers and the community.
So, instead of trying to demonstrate logical reasons for why their produce was fresh, the retailer focused on creating and excelling in their food wastage initiative, especially when it came to fruits and vegetables. Within a quarter, they began to see a lift in their brand perception studies and over the course of a year added new equity to their brand and business and sizable gains to their balance sheet.
By going through the lens of meaning, MotivBase was able to identify the right narrative with which to attack the perception problem. We didn’t assume what that narrative was. We discovered it by exploring the implicit meanings that make up the consumer’s perception of freshness. Meanings offer incredible value to our respective businesses. They don’t just teach us about what the consumer is really thinking. They also teach us about how that thinking is modeled and framed up in their minds.