Rotimi is seated on his couch, thinking about his last health scare. His doctor had told him two weeks ago that if he continued with his lifestyle, he did not think he would make it past 35. Rotimi is now 32, currently weighs a 20st 6lb at a height of 5 feet, 5 inches. Now that is clinically obese. He knows what happens next is up to him. Rotimi has a lot to look forward to; a bright career, top management level, a beautiful wife and daughter.
As he flips through the channel on TV, he catches a glimpse of McDonald’s new whopper advert. On a regular day, Rotimi would have driven to the nearest franchise and ordered about 5 of those without batting an eyelid. But no, Rotimi has a different view to life now. Since his last heart scare, he has had to rethink his lifestyle. He keeps flipping the channel until an advert of weight loss and fitness program came on. Rotimi froze and took in every detail of the program.
The expert facilitating the program had included his “before” picture and “now” picture which Rotimi could relate to. This is possible. If Chinedu could do it, I can do this too. Rotimi picked himself up, went online to search for shops into health and fitness apparel and equipment. There is no going back on this one he told himself.
Why did the McDonald’s advert just breeze through Rotimi’s ears? How come he connected immediately with the weight loss and fitness program? That is because it spoke to his current circumstance. I call this circumstance marketing. Once marketers can define market segments that correspond to the circumstances in which customers find themselves during the purchase journey, can they accurately posit which products will connect with their customers.
Circumstance marketing requires an understanding of the situation in which customers buy or use things. When customers became aware of a certain need, they then begin to search for a brand or service that can provide a solution to that situation. The circumstances in which customers experience life is worth noting for marketers. Organisations that target circumstances in which customers find themselves stand a better chance in the marketplace than others that directly target customers. Chinedu was not selling six packs, abs, and biceps, with his references to his previous health choices and health challenges, he was selling the good life; wealth, good health, mobility, self-esteem, and self-love.
Take for example the initial period of the lockdown, say the first four weeks. There was just so much uncertainty and people held tight to their money and were spending less if any on discretionary items. The fear of contacting the virus and restriction on movement meant two things. Families will be spending more time at home and needing more essential items too.
Quick to the rescue was the Hypermarket brand Spar. They knew a large chunk of people were on social media and home too. What Spar did was to develop a makeshift website where people could place their orders and have them delivered to their doorstep. It was strictly groceries at first and spoke to the current circumstance customers found themselves. More families at home equals more food consumption and customers will only turn their direction to brands that move in the direction of their current needs.
Just imagine the telecoms companies for example. It was a perfect time to connect to customer’s needs. Parents had only one option which may not be going away anytime soon; “home schooling”. Internet has now become a home essential. Making available models and doing deals at such a time as this can only extend their customer base. Instead, it is hardly available, if available it is sold on third party platforms and incredulous rates. It was an opportunity the players could have capitalised on and built brand loyalty.
But brands and service providers will struggle to get this right if they fail to watch customers closely, monitor current trends and even speak to customers. Pharmacies for example are getting all the traffic into their stores now based on the current situation. Customers are taking their health more seriously and boosting immune system seems to be the new trend. But is that circumstance really being served well by the major pharmaceutical outfits? I do not think so. Quite often, the most affordable vitamins and immune boosting options available are the expensive ones. This is an opportunity for other retail categories to step in. Imagine getting all those immune boosting goodies from source? I will leave the rest to the imagination of proactive business owners.