From: Neil Davidson, Freelance Writer
To: Susan Webster, Virginia Veg
Hello. You have come up with an interesting idea for your company and I hope that my thoughts on how to position this new product will help. My background is in advertising and direct marketing, and because of that my focus is on consumer insight, data, targeting, and the power of words.
One of your biggest challenges will be finding data to test the validity of your idea. Mass-market data, such as the Target Group Index data held by media agencies, usually has limited information on niche areas such as this. Proprietary agency tools on consumer segmentation are often based on TGI data, so the same issues apply to any insights you would normally gain from these.
Because of that, a good place to start would be with Wordtracker. Anybody can use it and it gives great insight into what words potential customers use when they search on the web. I think that it also reflects how potential customers think generally about products, not just online.
I went into the Wordtracker website and decided to define your potential business venture as “vegetarian pet food” rather than “dog food,” as I could not see any reason to restrict the opportunities for the product. Some unexpected related keywords came up on Wordtracker as soon as I started:
They were surprising, as you seemed to be thinking about positioning the product as something for vegetarian dog owners with a conscience. These words seemed to challenge this thinking.
It made me consider whether a product positioning based around the healthy properties of vegetarian dog food might be more appropriate. Of course, you must already have a large database of existing customers who buy vegetarian food for themselves, but maybe they are buying it for health reasons rather than for reasons of conscience.
I also remember reading a piece of research that said that pet trends generally follow human trends, with a time lag of five years. People have been obsessed with healthy eating for quite a few years and the world is full of obese pets, so you could be ahead of the game! A health positioning could be more inclusive and more positive and could potentially connect with a larger number of consumers.
I did further work on Wordtracker, which seemed to back up my thinking in terms of the popularity scores of certain keywords:
- holistic dog food – 199
- healthy pet food – 91
- vegetarian pet food – 7
So, merely from the viewpoint of popularity it is interesting. However, as I am sure you know, popularity alone is not enough. When devising positioning strategies for products, you need to think about relevant differentiation. A product has to be relevant to a customer but also offer something that the competition does not. Wordtracker’s KEI rating gives a real insight into this – it balances a keyword’s popularity and competitiveness so it can indicate needs consumers have that the competition is not delivering. Our keywords turned up some very interesting KEI scores:
- holistic dog food – 15.385
- healthy pet food – 3.046
- vegetarian pet food – 0.348
It seems to me that positioning pet food as being vegetarian is not enough, but consumers are really excited by holistic food for their pets!
Of course, more work needs to be done on this, perhaps including some qualitative research, but I believe that it would be smart to consider positioning your products as benefiting the pet in some way, rather than clearing the owner’s conscience.
My four recommendations for you are:
- Broaden your offer to other pets.
- Emphasize the benefits for the pet, not the owner.
- Consider targeting healthy-minded people, who may or may not be vegetarians.
- Look at “healthy” media options, online and offline, to generate brand awareness for a potential launch.
This is page one of the HMTL version of Wordtracker's Free Keyword Research Guide.
- Why Keywords Matter by Ken McGaffin
- What You Can Do With Wordtracker by Ken McGaffin
- Not This Saturday (offline keyword research) by Ken McGaffin
- Convert Traffic Using Wordtracker by Bryan Eisenberg
- It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Emotion by B.L. Ochman
- Gauge the Size of the Market by Stephen Mahaney
- In Paid Search, Keywords Are Key by Kevin Lee
- Find the Keywords and You’ll Find the Marketplace by Ken McGaffin
- The Wordtracker Breakthrough by John Alexander
- Adopt a Healthy Position by Neil Davidson
- Designing an Online Marketing Strategy by Robin Good
- Only People Buy by Nick Usborne
- Where To Use Your Keyword Phrases by Ken McGaffin
About Neil Davidson
Neil Davidson is a marketing communications consultant and writer with fifteen years experience in advertising and direct marketing at a senior level, in client and agency organisations, managing several major agencies and his own companies. He now works with several partners in the areas of advertising, direct marketing, digital marketing, narrative marketing and writing. He also teaches creative writing from time-to-time. Read his blog at Silver Darlings