Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FMCG concept development - part 2. Concept crafting

In my little piece on Concept Development - part 1 I wrote about the importance of concept development. I also mentioned that concept development isn't as simple and straightforward as many believe. No, I would claim that good concept development is a skill that needs to be honed by hours of practice. And, in order to be a good concept developer, a marketeer needs to understand a great deal about the consumer or customer, have an idea to conceptualise, and be able to put that idea and the benefit it offers into words and imagery. Those words and the imagery need to carefully crafted so that the concept is crystal clear and can be truly comprehended by the target group (without empty words of marketing bullshit!). For me concept writing is important. And it is NOT about simply explaining an idea in words or some creative rhetorics. No, concept writing is a marketing skill. And a marketing skill that too few marketeers master really well. I've seen too many poor concepts die in qual or quant research - not because of a bad conceptual idea but simply because that idea has been poorly crafted into a concept.

The key building bricks of a good concept? Well, Ï believe those to be the following three:
Consumer Insight: your concept need to rely on a foundation of insight. What's the thing that you know about the consumer that makes your idea relevant? Ideally you've already researched the relevance of your insight.
Idea presentation
: This is the opportunity to explain your offer. This should be presented in an appealing way but do work hard on steering away from choosing 'sales' language here! The one thing that one needs to work very hard on is the uniqueness of the idea in the market - is it something new or different that's really relevant to your target group. If it's not I'm not sure whether you should bother writing a concept at all!
Benefit: concept benefits need to link to the idea presentation. What are the key benefits that your concept offers to the intended target? This is where many concepts really fail. They try to claim too many things, they sometimes claim non relevant benefits or they claim just poor, undifferentiated me-too benefits that no one cares about.

I find the above to be the basics of the actual 'concept crafting' exercise - But to that comes the topic of concept stimulus, not to mention the hard work of researching and honing concepts through different development and screening stages. To that comes the development of moodboards, illustrations, packaging shots or whatever other stimulus you chose to bring your concept to life. I'll get back to these topics at some later stage. Meanwhile, good luck with your concept development!

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  1. Hello Linda!
    How refreshing to read a piece on concept development from somebody that really does understand.

    In my working life I work together with many market researchers, who tell me that about 70% of concepts they are given to use as stimuli in focus groups are just nowhere near good enough. So, on the Garbage In-Garbage Out principle, that 70% of research that is being done is sub-optimal, because of the poor quality of the concepts...

    I look forward to discussing this with you!

  2. Thanks for your comment David. I know, it's so sad to see those great ideas die just because of poor concept crafting! Yes, look forward to good discussions with you too!