The key to success lies in exploring what is happening parallel to the current customer experience before and after the product is in use. It’s not just about current pain points, or areas of improvement, but also constantly looking for gaps between consumer needs and the best way to fulfil those needs.
The success of brands and businesses lies in understanding what the consumer wants to achieve and not necessarily in what they are trying to buy. Very often brands miss out on the key aspects of looking into the gaps present in the consumer experience. Some categories as we know suffer from not looking into the unmet needs of consumers and hence are still stuck with a product mix which is largely unchanged since over a decade.
A case in point is the detergent industry in India:
The detergent category over the last decade seems to have been built around two key product deliveries:
1) Daag – Stains
2) Safedi – Whiteness
And rightly so, because a majority of the Indian population works outdoors and in India almost all the cities are very dusty. In such circumstances it is really hard to retain the whiteness in clothes, this one aspect of our life, is made into one of the biggest challenges in the life of a housewife in India. Her ability to ensure a clean white shirt has become one of the most valued aspects of her life.
Along with Safedi, another big challenge is Daag, the food that is eaten in India, has a high portion of gravy in it, whether it is dal or chicken gravy, and also the environment in which some of the SME’s work, all have a high exposure to stains.
So the category is built around two verticals and if we broadly classify the brands, they will fall under two category verticals:
1) Stains – Surf Excel, Ariel, Wheel, Ghari and Nirma
2) Whiteness – Tide and Rin
Almost as if, there are no other pain points in the “wash process” for consumers to explore.
To an extent Henko detergent has a very disruptive product, which promises that clothes will remain younger for longer. Now, clothes getting damaged, losing their shine and fading are age old problems, which no brand is talking strongly about and somehow, the category itself is ignoring this pain point. Moreover, even Henko, has failed to build it like the third biggest pain point in the category ahead of stains and whiteness. The consumers believe that that their clothes getting damaged is a part of the natural wear and tear process, failing to understand that there is actually a solution to this problem.
We have also seen speciality products in the market such as Vanish, Comfort, etc. and they have positioned themselves as additives and have not played in the core of the wash segment.
But if we speak with consumers and study their daily wash process, we can see that consumers have been struggling and need help at various levels of the wash process:
1) Fading and losing color
2) Resha nikal jaana or damage of clothes
3) Color bleeding during the wash process
4) Color fading due to sun drying
5) Overnight soaking
6) Germ build up due to sweat and dirt
So, if we look at what is happening in the consumer’s life parallel to the wash process, we see a huge gap between what is being fulfilled and what the unmet needs are. It is not just the current pain points, or areas of improvement, but also, constantly looking for gaps between the consumers’ needs and the best way to fulfil those needs. We hope that the detergent brands in the country deep dive into the unmet needs of consumers and understand what they are currently doing to solve these other unmet needs, then we can hope to see a real detergent revolution in an otherwise product stagnated detergent market.
When it comes to innovation, be it a new product or a proposition, the key to understanding what a consumer’s needs and wants are, comes down to unmet needs. The ability to define, “what problem the consumer is trying to solve differently”
At IBD, not too far from today, about three years back, when we looked at building a new category of LED lights with a new brand SYSKA, we were completely aware of the humongous task ahead of us. Big brands with big muscles in the lighting industry were not keen to grow the category beyond tube lights and CFLs, much like the detergent category today.
But we were aware of what the problems in the life of the consumer were and how they were trying to solve it. It is also during the same time, we as a nation woke up to the need of conserving energy today so that our future generations do not live with the scarcity of power and energy.
It is here we decided to help solve the problem of the consumers and the nation, and SYSKA championed the cause and the category of LED lights. Moreover, took the category beyond the incandescent and CFL’s and the rest is history. It is because of SYSKA, that the niche segment has become mainstream, it is because of SYSKA that all the other big brands who were initially reluctant to talk about energy conservation are being forced to engage and participate in such talk.
SYSKA is the answer for the gap in the consumer’s needs for power saving lights, because consumers were in a constant look out to find the solutions for rising power bills and also hoping for long lasting solutions.
SYSKA LED lights is also a solution to a nation’s need of energy efficient lighting. SYSKA has not only propelled the category forward, it is also an advertising and marketing success for understanding what was happening parallel to the current consumer experience, and giving them a solution that helped them achieve their goals.
The category which did not exist roughly three years back is pegged to be 60% of the entire lighting industry by the year 2020.