News recently that Dick Smith is winding up his food business which champions Australian made products. He took aim at the big supermarkets, and in particular Aldi for their low cost model aimed at delivering savings at the checkout. This, he believes comes through sourcing ingredients and labour from overseas, something that is generally seen as cheaper than ours here in Australia.
We’re still riding the wave of patriotism that was generated through the ‘Made in Australia’ campaign launched a number of years ago. We’ve been conditioned to seek out the familiar green and gold kangaroo logo in the knowledge that by purchasing Australian, we’re helping fellow Australians. I’ve been in research for a number of years and whenever a study has focused on the decision making process when purchasing items from the supermarket, the findings always show that buying Australian is always at the top or running very close behind. It’s no surprise though, we all want to be seen to be doing our bit. Dick Smith should be thrilled by this. But without the bounds of context, known more commonly as ‘real life’, things are often very different. In a perfect world, we all want buy Australian, but the fact of the matter is, it’s not always possible. Household budgets are stretched, there’s that car service that’s coming up and the holiday to the Gold Coast to pay for, so more often than not, the first thing to drop away is the willingness to pay a price premium to buy Australian. And this is where Dick has come to grief.
I know that I’m simplifying the situation somewhat and there are more factors at play with the Dick Smith brand – his shelf space visibility, his personal attitudes to social topics, etc. but put simply, the price we are willing to pay for a product outweighs our patriotism in most cases.
At the Interpreters, we know this and work hard to ‘get under the hood’ of the decision making process. Rather than just asking a consumer the importance of factors that weigh on a decision, we place them in a familiar situation that they may face in their household – ‘this week when buying groceries, you’re $50 shorter than you were last week thanks to an unforeseen medical bill, tell us how your decision process changes’. This digs deeper and takes them out of their ‘perfect world’ scenario, something that as researchers we probably don’t do enough of.
So when thinking about what factors into the consumer’s decision making process prior to purchasing your brand, get them to take off their rose coloured glasses and put them into situations more common to them, or stretch their thinking to mirror ‘might happen’ scenarios rather than just the sunny days which we always wish for. After all, the ‘perfect world’ scenario that we all like to see ourselves in is somewhat of a pipe dream for many of us.
By Chris Binney