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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Unclear Messaging Hurts Your Brand

If a grocery store promised "If it's not fresh, it's free", what would that mean to you?

A photo of a grocery store entrance with a "Fresh Promise" message printed on the glass.

Does it mean that if you find something in the store that isn't fresh, you get THAT product for free...

... or would you get a DIFFERENT product for free as a result of your discovery?

I have to believe it's the second one because, if it isn't, then what the store offers you for free is a product they would otherwise have to discard...

...which means your reward for spotting a spoiled product in the store is the privilege of discarding it on the store's behalf.

But I can't be 100% certain this is what's intended because those details aren't provided.

Let's think about another, related scenario: what if you didn't realize the product you purchased wasn't fresh until after you got home?

If this happened and you returned to the store with your purchase, would you expect a refund for your spoiled product, a "fresh" replacement in exchange, or BOTH?

If the store honoured the spirit of a "Fresh Promise", I'd expect both; a refund for a spoiled product that shouldn't have been sold in the first place seems like the bare minimum the store should be required to offer, and a replacement for that product means I paid for the product AND the inconvenience of returning it to the store for an exchange.

But once again I'm left to speculate about what the "Fresh Promise" really means in practice.

When I saw the "Fresh Promise" image, it elicited a love-hate reaction from me.

I love the idea of a "Fresh Promise" that presumably assures me everything I buy at this grocery store will be of the highest quality, particularly since "quality" is usually among the top reasons grocery shoppers choose where to buy their food.

But I hate the execution of this campaign because it doesn't provide me with the details I'd need to be reasonably confident about the promise being made.

The "fresh-free" sentence is wonderful alliteration. But if the goal of that sentence is to provide me with confidence that this grocery retailer will guarantee the products I buy are fresh without exception or limitation, it leaves me unconvinced.

I'm not saying paragraphs of fine print should burden every well-written headline.

But think about how much better that "Fresh Promise" on the glass door would be if it was accompanied by a simple QR code (and a "Learn more" call-to-action) that directs those interested to a website page outlining the program's details and restrictions.

(Sadly, I can't even Google the details myself; as of this writing, the "Fresh Promise" guarantee is nowhere to be found on this grocery retailer's website.)

Unclear messaging hurts your brand.

So if you're going to say something, say it clearly to minimize the possibility of any misunderstanding.

And if there's even a slight possibility that what you say might be misunderstood, make the supporting details easily accessible in a consumer-friendly way.

Doing otherwise isn't just a waste of effort, it's a recipe for disappointed shoppers.

And disappointed shoppers are never great for your brand.


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