Published: 01/11/2017

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?

maximising touchpoints

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, the choices, the place and the 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 methodologiesto explore an issue.

 why qualitative

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. 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 – 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 in time. This insight provided guidance on a tea brand could effectively communicate with these coffee-drinkers if they want 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 when 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 Asian markets.

We worked with one brand to explore the busy breakfast moments across Asia, and found that the preferred breakfast option was usually hot and savoury – which is why western cereals were not performing well in these markets. 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 to 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.

Find out more about how you can maximise the moment here.

This article was originally published in Campaign.