The Situation Function Analysis

The Situation Function Analysis

West-European consumers no longer act like sheep.

They’re too rich and too independent to be bothered about what you and I think of the products they buy or where they buy them. They are no longer to be influenced by that “social imitation” which directed consumer choice in the glorious marketing days of the 1980s!

There’s no longer any social stigma today in buying cold cuts at Aldi. And I don’t feel socially valorised because I bought a chilled ready meal at Marks & Spencer. Both retailers just made sense for the meal I had in mind at the time.

We all know that consumers today want solutions, not products. They simply want the products best adapted to the meal that they know they have to prepare. And brands are just there to tell them which these are.

But today’s consumer does distinguish – fundamentally – between an everyday “refuelling” meal, where the products have just got to “work“, at the lowest relative cost and with no risk, and a “valorised” meal in which the consumer is emotionally involved in its success. The former demands practicality, easy-to-cook, digestibility, filling, habit… The latter taste, conviviality, exoticism, novelty…

Lunch is no longer just lunch, nor breakfast. The same consumer wants different products, brands, packaging, communication etc. for a dinner on Saturday with the family and for dinner on Tuesday when she gets in from work and the kids are tired and starving. Same meal name, but very different products and marketing mix.

The key to product acceptance today is to be found in the Function of the meal to be prepared.

Together with the meal Situations, they allow us to build up a matrix on which we can segment, quantitatively and qualitatively, all demand for a given product or product family.

We can also derive the optimal marketing mix, so that consumers will know that our product really is the one best adapted to their needs.

In the initial, qualitative phase of our Situation/Function Analyses, consumers tell us the real moments when they consume our client’s products. They also tell us what function those meals play in their lives and in those of their families.

Once this Situation/Function “matrix” has been constructed, we can then go on and quantify – in volumes and/or meal occasions – the demand for each demand segment.

And we can even develop our segmentation to create an in-store planogramme for the whole product category.

The Situation/Function Analysis is today’s key to market segmentation and product positioning.

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