What Are You Really Selling? | Greg Hoyos



BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday August 31, 2017 – Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, famously said: “In the factory, we make lipstick; in the store, we sell hope.” It was a catty comment but it contained a valuable insight: what we produce is often not what people buy.

There are examples in almost everything we consume.

What goes into the manufacture of a product is less important than the benefit which buyers assign to it. Branded clothing is an easy example: wearing a famous name often matters more than the actual quality of the garment. Netflix is not just renting films, it’s providing a benefit of readymade cocooning – a form of personal luxury. Amazon isn’t really selling stuff; it’s selling convenience – shopping in jammies while snug in your bed.

Have you thought about what your products really are to people? You may be pleasantly surprised (or not) but it will focus your marketing on where it is most effective.

In Sydney, we switched Bacardi from trying to sell on its ingredients, and transferred the emphasis to “being yourself” (sales took off); for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, we focused on the simple things in life, not on the product (ditto results). And for Farmers’ Choice, we discovered that readymade meats gave mothers more time with their kids (yes!).

So I’ve learned that even in marketing established products, a new look at an old situation can often yield valuable results.

What benefit does your product really provide?

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Greg Hoyos is founder and chairman at GHA DDB. He started his first regional ad agency in 1970; has won five CLIOs (including the 1979 Worldwide Copywriting statue) and numerous Caribbean ADDYs; and is the author of ‘Marketing and Demand’ and ‘A History of Marketing in 32 Objects’. He can be reached at (246) 234-4110 or greg@greghoyos.com