Q&A: Bob Klein, chief strategy officer of Blue Chip Marketing

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Bob Klein
Bob Klein

Blue Chip Marketing chief strategy officer Bob Klein discusses how to prevent consumer 'de-selection' of brands and the importance of customer research.

Q: How did you become head of strategy at Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide?


A: I spent the first 28 years of my career at agencies where the perspective is about the consumer. The classic expression is that the consumer is king or queen. We look at building brands from a slightly different perspective, which includes the consumer as a very central part of discussion, but we look at it through the lens of all constituents who unite a brand to sales. 


Q: Who are those constituents?


A: It begins with deep insights into the consumer who may or may not be the shopper. The four intersecting circles that unite to form the brand are consumer, shopper, retailer and sales. You can't have a consumer if people don't buy the product; they can't buy the product if the retailer isn't convinced to stock and display it properly. The retailer can't do that if a brand's sales person isn't persuasive. 


Q: How do you harvest those insights?


A: It depends on the target constituent, but we do a lot in shopper and retailer insights where we try to under
stand the path to purchase and the barriers that exist along the way to ultimately getting a product in the cart.


Q: How do you identify those barriers?


A: It depends on the segment. One of the greatest challenges we see across clients is the phenomenon of de-selection, which is ignoring certain sections of a store that shoppers no longer realize are relevant to them. Understanding what makes shoppers de-select a certain section or brand within the sector is an enormous challenge. Figuring it out can lead to new avenues of growth, particularly for a well-established brand. 


Q: Do big brands have an advantage over small brands in overcoming de-selection?


A: We're usually talking about brands that have lost relevancy to new shoppers and consumers. The challenge is getting consumers to stop, pause and reconsider their auto
matic perceptions of a category or brand. A great example is coffee, which was in decline for years and had lost relevancy to a whole new generation of consumers. Many pre
dicted its demise, yet today coffee is more vital as a beverage than ever.

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