A Multi-Pack of Relevance: How to Capture Your Customers’ Attention and Deliver Value in a Fragmented Marketplace


This article was written by Jamie Perry, Client Partner at Material.
Selling consumer packaged goods used to be easy. All you had to do was create a good product with a catchy brand and a memorable jingle, spend the GDP of a small country on TV advertising to build awareness and then leverage your sales clout to force retailers to dedicate as much of their prime (and finite) shelf space to it as possible. Then sit back and wait for the millions to roll in. OK, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple. But it certainly is a lot harder now.
Three key elements of this paradigm have changed:
  • Unlimited shelf-space: Accelerated by the pandemic, consumer spending has increasingly shifted online. In the ecommerce universe, shelf space is unlimited, so consumers face a paradox of choice, making it harder for large corporations to dominate prime real estate and product discovery. Brick & mortar retailers are also struggling to accommodate the glut of new CPG products that are fighting for space on their physical shelves.
  • More specialized products: The move to ecommerce has also made it easier for new market entrants with more specialized products to enter the market and thrive. Dominant established players no longer hold newcomers back. Search rules the day online, and anyone can pay to play and target niche audiences with specialized products.
  • Fragmentation of audiences: As consumers continued to cut the cable TV cord and content moved online, audiences fragmented across the internet, making it harder to reach a mass audience with a single, high-budget marketing campaign, leveling the awareness-building playing field. The same digital ecosystem dynamic makes everyone a potential customer and personalization a mandate for success with the consumer.
The answer to all three of these challenges is something we talk about a lot here at Material: Relevance.


The relevance of relevance

In a world of ubiquitous connectivity, time is consumers’ most scarce resource. They are busy, distracted and exposed to a huge number of brands and ads. The first thing brands must do is stand out from the noise, which means getting consumers’ attention, and that requires you to be relevant.
Relevance both captures and rewards consumers’ attention. Consumers notice brands that are relevant to their identities and remember those that align with their goals and identity. You cannot buy demand, but you can align your products and messaging to meet consumers’ needs in the right moment, with the right message and improve their lives.
To connect to consumers’ identities, brands must deliver on what we call “Big R” relevance and “little r” relevance:
“Big R” Relevance is about connecting to identity. Identity shapes what we pay attention to, how we think, how we behave and how we react to norms and expectations in our environment. You must know who your consumer is, what they need and then deliver it memorably to become the go-to brand in their everyday and aspirational lives.
“Little r” relevance is about the moment – about being there in the small moments, like habits and rituals that shape how consumers make decisions. You must know how your consumer decides, anticipate their needs and have the right offering available at the right moment.
The goal is to create consumer experiences where the minor details are easy and habitual, while the focal experience is emotionally engaging and memorable. Positive memories create strong emotional connections, which ultimately drives loyalty and advocacy.


It’s the consumers’ world now.

This age of fragmentation has created an excess of opportunity, but brands must exercise restraint. It is more critical than ever that CPG brands have a deep understanding of consumers’ identity, especially their fundamental needs and motivations. To imagine the products of the future, brands must think about the consumer habits, patterns and rituals they want to create, based in this understanding of consumers, and then work backwards to create products which are both Big R and little r relevant.  Only in this way will brands be able to cut through the noise, grab consumers’ attention and command a place in their busy lives.
Want to learn more about “Big R” and “little r” relevance and how Material uses them to create business outcomes? Click here.