Serena Jacob
Oct 18, 2017

Maximising the moment

Marketers should take a moment to better explore moments in their customers' day. Doing so can provide inspiration and innovation, explains Kantar TNS' Serena Jacob.


The latest Finnair TV commercial caught my eye recently. As the lyrical copy washed over me, I couldn’t wait to board a plane and experience those moments that the ad extolls so beautifully: 

The moments when you set your mind free. When time and space exist only for you… For us flying is an opportunity. An opportunity to find the moment between goodbye and hello.

Through its narrative, the ad successfully lifts flying out of the mundane business of getting from A to B, and into an experience to cherish. In doing so, it connected with me, and reminded me of the power of identifying and leveraging meaningful moments.

The marketing task is getting ever more challenging as the world becomes more complex. Consumer needs are changing constantly, and the digital revolution has created a touchpoint explosion. It’s getting increasingly difficult to connect with consumers in this cluttered and unpredictable environment. However, focusing on moments is a way to navigate this complexity and reach consumers in a way that is relevant, timely and effective.

Marketers have been talking about occasions for a long time now, so how is a moment different? A moment is an individual experience, defined by the context you are in: the time, the place, your surroundings, who you are with, what you are doing, your mood, needs, goals and motivations.

Think about the breakfast occasion. This could be someone grabbing a roll and coffee on the way to work, or that same person cooking a family breakfast at the weekend. Both instances are about eating and drinking something as a morning meal, but the two are very different moments if you consider the needs, choices, place and mood.   

Examining and exploring these critical moments—moments of habit, moments of decision, moments of change—can provide inspiration for brands, from developing new communication strategies to ideas for innovation and ways to increase product usage. Quantitative research is adept at identifying the contextual moments where there is opportunity. However, to get truly under the skin of these moments, brands need to investigate the ‘why’—why people are making these decisions in these moments, and what is influencing them.  

The answers are often different depending on the lens we use, and it is vital to choose the right mix of methodologies to explore an issue. Qualitative exploration allows for this deeper analysis that unpicks the reasons behind behaviour, the psychological, social and cultural influences that nudge people in one direction or another. 

Sometimes this kind of exploration can inspire new ways to connect with consumers. Earlier this year I was in Kuala Lumpur listening to die-hard coffee drinkers explain what it is they love about coffee and why it’s essential to their lives. In the session, they were describing the various coffee moments in their day.

The morning ‘wake-me-up’ moment was clearly sacrosanct and dedicated to coffee, however once I probed further it became clear that there are other moments in the day when they yearn for a hot beverage, but don’t need or want the caffeine kick. These are moments when they want some stimulation or a moment of respite. Once we explored this, we concluded that this could be a moment for a cup of tea. This was something most of these coffee drinkers didn’t consider an option, but would do so if it was positioned in a way that spoke to their needs in that specific moment. This insight provided guidance on how to a tea brand could effectively communicate with these coffee-drinkers if it wanted to convert them to tea.

Moments can also unlock innovation opportunities. Let’s go back to that breakfast moment. During the weekday, this is a somewhat frenetic moment where parents want to give their family a filling, nourishing breakfast, but also need it to be easy to prepare. Instant cereal is the perfect answer in Western markets. However, brands found that instant cereal didn’t do so well in Asia.  

We worked with one brand to explore the busy breakfast moments across the region, and found that the preferred breakfast option was usually hot and savoury, which is why western cereals were not performing well. As long as ‘instant’ was associated with ‘cold and sweet’, there was an unresolved friction. Understanding this need, and marrying it with the cultural context, helped the brand develop a range of savoury, ‘just-add-hot-water’ oats that provided an instant option, yet met the cultural and palate needs as well.

Whether you’re looking for the next brand communication strategy, or ideas for your innovation pipeline, take the time to identify the moments relevant to people’s lifestyles. As human needs and wants change, keep your brands relevant by rethinking the moments when your brand could be beneficial, or moments when your brand is vulnerable. Continuously ask why behaviours are happening in order to find the moments that matter to your consumers, and make them last.

Serena Jacob is regional managing director for qualitative at Kantar TNS.



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