September 9, 2010

Concrete cereal

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My cereal box usually has a graphic on the front that shows, "9g protein," "8g fiber," and "7 whole grains."

I noticed yesterday that the brand has a new flavor in new packaging, and now in addition to showing the grams of protein on the front of the box, there is also a large statement, "As much protein as an egg."

Now, if you're looking for specific nutritional benefits to your cereal, you can pick up the box and look at the nutrition label on the side, which takes some time, effort and manual labor. And then you actually have to know what those numbers mean, or go do the research to find out. You can also scan the front of the box for marketing messages. And in quickly scanning the box, which message is more meaningful: "9g protein" or "As much protein as an egg?"

This change in packaging reflects Chip and Dan Heath's concept of "Concrete" in their book, "Made to Stick." In this case, "As much protein as an egg," answers the question, "How much protein is 9 grams?" If you care about how much protein you're eating in a day, knowing that one serving of this cereal has the same amount of protein as an egg helps you make your decision about what to have for breakfast. You don't have to look up any nutrition tables or do any research to choose your preferred option.

A concrete message is a quick shortcut to your audience "getting it." Why beat around the bush, using abstract statistics and complicated numbers, making more work for your audience, when you can just give them a tangible example to grasp?

Share your examples of concrete messages in the comments!

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Jessica Pyne said...

Great point, Lisa, and a fantastic example of how to tailor your content to your audience - explain it in their terms! Grams and numbers are meaningless to most shoppers, but as you have stated, most should be able to compare it to an egg.

Presenters should always be thinking of ways to communicate their messages effectively!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, Jessica. I'm a pretty lazy shopper, as are probably most people, so I appreciate a concrete message on my cereal. And as an audience member, I also appreciate a concrete message!

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