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The Claim Game

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: December 6, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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To fully develop a set of product claims that speak to consumers and cause them to put your competitor’s product down and pick yours up, you’ll need to not only have a clear picture of what other brands are saying—be they emotional claims or numerical claims—but also how they are then using these claims in-market. Given the sheer number of claims out there, this is a tall order, to be sure. However, investing the time or money into a regular review of this data is a critical part of carving out a space for your product.

What’s the best way to tackle this? One way is to simply comb through every relevant magazine and read all the claims. Another is to pay an outside resource to conduct this exhaustive research for you. Either way, analysis into what claims currently exist in market should be a critical part of all your product development time lines. It won’t do your brand a bit of good to cull claims from a year ago for a brand you are seeking to launch in 2011.

Not All Claims Are Created Equal

With the sizeable number of claims in-market, deciding what to focus on might seem to be an impossible task. Generally speaking, however, claims fall into two categories: emotional (for example, Painful acne blemishes will disappear in two days) and numerical (such as, 97% of women saw smoother skin in two days). In addition, claims can be made through professional endorsements (dermatologist-tested and approved), and for purity and ingredient integrity (100% organic). And while all of these types of claims resonate with consumers on some level, when it comes to skin care, women tend to love numerical claims. Nothing inspires more belief that the product will work and is perfect for her than reading that an overwhelming majority of women just like her got the very same results she seeks simply by using the product.

However, not all of your target customers will be convinced by this type of claim. Some will need to be excited into purchasing your product emotionally; others will need a professional endorsement. Because it’s unlikely that you will attract all women with a single claim—and making a multitude of claims for your product could potentially be perceived as inauthentic—it is crucial to determine what claims are most successful with consumers in your category. Equally as important is understanding how easily consumers can form vastly different opinions on the same claim.

Take these examples into consideration.