Who really cares about the consumer?

You often read of the use that distribution makes of neuromarketing (applying neuroscience technology to marketing to learn and understand the attention levels that people display to different stimuli) and of how this is done in order to monitor the purchasing intent of consumers, to the extent of proving on more than one occasion that the consumer does not display a pattern of presumably rational behavior.

We are not about to deny here that studying the behavior of consumers and attempting to satisfy their demands is a key feature of this business. This is why we constantly and increasingly maintain contact, ask questions (nine million surveys in 2016) and make every effort to study new ways to approach consumers. We are also not about to deny that we hope to sell more by doing this; selling is the basis of any business, not just ours. We increase our product selection, offer the best quality to price ratio, improve our stores and make all manner of other efforts to sell more and get closer to our customers. An endless variety of initiatives, some more on target, others decidedly less so. The customer will tell us, because one thing is certain: if the customer says no, we don’t sell it.

Here at DIA we believe that consumers are rational and are masters of their own decisions; they are capable of choosing and do in fact make their own buying decisions. When we utilize or employ all our efforts to convince them, we display them there, within their reach. But what about all those conditioning factors that the consumer doesn’t see?

In this case, we address issues that influence operational and business performance and that affect consumer choices on a day-to-day basis. We have noticed how the aging of the population is an undeniable reality over the last few years, both throughout Europe and especially in Spain, as well as how consumption habits have changed. This results in increases or decreases in the consumption of certain products. At times, these changes affect very sensitive industries, such as the dairy industry. In the case of Spain, consumption of liquid milk dropped in 2016 by 2.2% in volume and 2.6% in value (price), based on data published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and the Environment. This decline repeats itself over and over again every year.

The sharp reduction of households with small children, the impaired image of a product with so many excellent qualities as milk (one more disputed food product, unfortunately) and the invasion of other types of vegetable-based milks with healthy images, all influence this. Not only is the consumption of milk decreasing, but also that of milk-based products. Given the situation, it would appear to make sense to feverishly promote the product, especially when demand drops, but then we are faced with problems like the downgrading the product.

This refers to the fact that when prices are dropped on a product, that product becomes mundane. It is widely utilized for it by a part of the Public Administration, and amounts to a serious headache and enormous rigidity when implementing a flexible commercial policy. And so I ask you, dear reader: does dropping the price of a product make it appear mundane? It would appear that the answer is yes, but at DIA we disagree. Putting on sale an extraordinary product like milk that is dropping in demand does not diminish the value of the product; it is designed to help increase consumption. The importance of a product declines when it ends up sitting on the store shelf because there is no satisfactory marketing policy.

The unusually low price control program in Spain doesn’t exist for no reason. Low for the consumer? We doubt that the consumer is aware of the existence of other variables conditioning his or her buying decision when selecting a product.

In conclusion, let’s take a recent example. Not long ago, a well-known media outlet echoed some allegations of the milk lobby. They accused distributors of bringing about a decline in the consumption of milk by putting vegetable-based milks next to milk on store shelves.

Just one point:

Both products have the same manufacturers.

And just one matter for consideration: it assumes that the consumer isn’t aware of the nutritional qualities of milk, and so underestimates the consumer.

So who really cares about the consumer?