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Darren Wingfield

Darren Wingfield

Commercial Manager

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‘Market-Led’ beats ‘Product-Led’. But what about ‘Conviction-Led?’.

Posted on 23/04/21  |  3 Minutes

When we read about marketing communications, particularly old(ish)school academic writing, the guidance is clear. Marketled beats product-led. What this means is that if we are primarily product-led, i.e. we develop products and services isolated from useful insights into market and customer behaviours and preferences, then we are in grave danger of developing an offering that nobody wants. But if we take a market-led approach, i.e. we develop products and services that are derived from useful insights into market and customer behaviours and preferences, then we are far more likely to sell things. It seems like common sense really.

But as competition intensifies in all markets, the ‘sameness’ that can result from too much analysis of customer behaviours and preferences means brands can blend into one. And who says customers know what they want anyway? Where does innovation and adventure fit into all this? And that brings us to consider something else. That brings us to consider a
‘Conviction-led’ approach.

A conviction-led approach to leading a business is an approach to building and running a brand that is brave, single-minded, fresh and exciting! It is an approach that relies on the orator or the author of the brand having a degree of personal profile themselves. And it is an approach that relies on the orator or author having way more than just great technique and skills. They need interesting and innovative ideas too. They need to have reliable and credible opinions. They need charisma – and attitude!

Uniqueness and differentiation are clearly valuable in a competitive world. So maybe the pendulum should swing away from the potential sameness of a world driven solely by what customers say they want, back to a more independent product-led approach. But it is with the additional layering of credible, interesting and useful attitude and opinion that a conviction-led approach is born.

Here’s an example.

Good chefs cook good food that lots of people might like.

But great chefs are different. Great chefs cook food that they themselves like and that a select few then get to taste and fully appreciate 

And so it follows that technique is a given with all significant operators in any field, and it is attitude that makes the real difference. It is the attitude that gives some offerings an undeniable edge.

There’s an example of this in real life.

Filip Fasten is Sweden’s most famous chef. Filip won Swedish Chef of The Year in 2014 and here’s something Filip said in an interview quite recently. It is worth thinking about and remembering, especially in the context of how these two tiny sentences make you feel about Filip and his food. Filip said:

“I am cooking for myself. And the guests get to taste my food.”

During the interview, Filip said this in passing and without batting an eyelid. He said it, then carried right on chatting. It’s just how he is. Filip has conviction.

So there we have it. Technique always plays second fiddle to attitude when it comes to the strength of a brand. When a brand leader has conviction, it can be very seductive. Those that shape opinion are followed much more closely and much more passionately than those that simply follow opinion.

Do we want to taste Filip’s food? The food that he is cooking for himself? Over the cook that cooks good food that lots of people might like? Too right!