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What do you think is more effective for acquiring new customers?

23 February 2015

The average customer has an attention span of


How does a brand catch a customer's interest when their attention span is now less than that of a goldfish? I spent a few seconds Googling to discover the average person's attention span has shrunk since 1998, by 11 minutes.

The average attention span today is 8 seconds

The National Center for Biotechnology Information says our attention span is now 1 second less than goldfish. What hope does a brand have to convince us to buy?

Consider a tube of toothpaste. The average main grocery buyer now spends less than 20 minutes in the supermarket for the big weekly shop. With over 10,000 items to choose from it's not surprising when faced with so many options brands are struggling to catch shoppers' interest. At the dental care section 27% of shoppers walk away without making a decision.

You may be aware Australians have never been better educated, the number of university graduates has almost quadrupled since 1986, from 6% to more than 21%. Are we any smarter or better prepared to make purchase decisions?

We are exposed to five times the quantity of information every day than we received 30 years ago, (you may be surprised just how many ads we are exposed to). Yet we have less free time to consider. The Economist explains that time poverty is a wealth syndrome, the more money we have the more we value our time and the more choices we are confronted with to spend that time. At the other extreme, cash strapped people have largely given up trying to decipher so much information, they are influenced by price like never before.

Price is increasingly winning over brand appeal. It's at the heart of the growing success of ALDI – less items to choose from, mostly unbranded, all at lower prices. This has seen their share of grocery sales reach 10%, a big slice of the market brands are mostly missing.

Even brands are struggling to be seen in Woolworths

According to Woolworths own research "more than a third of the items in Woolworths’ supermarket trolleys are purchased on promotion." That's an increase of 10% a year for the last two years.

"Australians hunting for bargains are the big winners, with one in four customers (25%) purchasing nearly half of the food and drinks in their trolley on special."

How do the retailers manipulate the time poor if not with price?

One journalist recently warned shoppers something brand marketers pay dearly for:

  • The most expensive brands, or the ones being promoted heavily, will always be on the two shelves that sit between waist and shoulder height.
  • Cheaper products are often stocked below knee height.
  • Supermarkets know that you may only want milk so put it at the back of the store in the hope you’ll pick up items you don’t need.

Not only are the retailers asking brands for price rebates, Private Label substitutes are also catching once impregnable brands in a pincer movement. So if you believe in protecting the value of your brand you'll probably want to avoid discounting too often. Only the biggest and most desperate can afford to pay Coles and Woolies to be on promotion. In the past sales managers have encouraged the benefits of putting products on promotion to drive sales. Does it still work in the era of short attention spans?


My associates at consumer benchmarking specialists B4P spent a year researching the impact of sales promotions at Point of Purchase (POP). The clients were several of the largest global FMCG companies that are active promoters in Australia's supermarkets, every week of the year. They tested awareness before promotion, cut through in-store, trial, impact on sales and recall several weeks later.

Across all promotion types, (price promotion, competitions, bundled offers and bonuses), shoppers generally don't notice any of it. This is despite multi-million dollar spends on displays, cardboard, posters, banners, gondola ends and shelf strips. Most in-store promotions have become invisible.

Earned and shared media can still gain attention

As we learned over seven years growing Pacific West from a $6million pa frozen seafood minnow to a $38million challenger brand, you can drive shoppers to your product by creating original content to tell your story and social media to spread the word. Just remember your audience has a short attention span. Here is a charming infographic that shows the optimum number of times to post content on social media channels.




Glenn | Tags: brand marketing Point of Purchase

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