Drivers & barriers: preparing to expand in a new category

Anna Raventós

Drivers & barriers in market research

When it comes to buying a product, many factors -beyond the need itself- influence our final decision. Drivers and barriers are one of the critical factors that make us decide to buy one or another product and/or brand. Therefore, knowing the consumer’s motivations and barriers is crucial when expanding into a new category. Thanks to market research, we can identify the drivers and barriers of our target, thus determining the opportunities that will ensure success in the new category. Read on to learn more about how to conduct a Drivers and Barriers study.

usage and attitude research guide

The drivers & barriers of a category are all those factors that influence the purchase and consumption decision, i.e., all those motivations and barriers that lead us to choose one product over another. Choices that go beyond the decision at the point of sale, since as a consumer, we have a mental map in which many elements are involved, both rational and emotional, in relation to each category.

Brands must know the motivations and barriers to purchase and consumption and their importance for the consumer. In this way, it’s possible to understand why a consumer is loyal to our product, and why we fail to attract new consumers. Insights will provide us with the keys to identify what elements are necessary to attract consumers.

Why is it so important to know the “Drivers & Barriers” when expanding into a new category?

Knowing the purchasing and/or consumption habits of a category is a fundamental element for any company since understanding the factors that influence consumers when purchasing your products will allow you to promote those that most capture their attention and, in this way, increase sales.

Therefore, it’s essential to know the factors that influence positively and negatively to design strategies adapted to consumer demands. Hence the importance of understanding and sizing consumer insights on:

  • The drivers of the category, thus knowing what currently motivates the purchase and/or consumption.
  • The barriers currently hinder the category’s purchase and/or consumption.

All these insights will allow us to identify the opportunities for entry into the new category and define the “triggers” or key levers of action to achieve an impact on the consumer’s purchase decision.

Drivers and barriers research

To analyze the Drivers & Barriers of a category is key:

  • IDENTIFY a list of motivations and barriers.
  • DIMENSION each of the motivations and barriers.

To identify the Drivers & Barriers, it’s recommended to conduct a qualitative study that allows knowing in depth what mobilizes and stops the consumer, thus obtaining sufficient information for designing a list of drivers and barriers for the category. Answering, for example, questions such as:

  • Why do consumers buy a product for the first time?
  • Why do consumers make repeat purchases?
  • Why have consumers stopped buying?
  • Why have NON-consumers never bought the product?
  • What should the product offer to make the consumer decide to buy it?

Once the list has been defined, it’s essential to determine the weight of each driver and barrier through a quantitative study, thus identifying the importance of each for the consumer.

Knowing what drives the consumer will allow you to design and adapt the product to entry into the new category, ensuring the success of your product.

Drivers and Barriers examples

A leading premium formula milk brand in the infant nutrition category decided to enter the infant cereal category. The brand’s goal was to be considered a global benchmark in infant nutrition, but the leading brand in the infant cereal category was very well positioned. Read the full case study here.

So the first step was to conduct a consumer habits study of the category, identifying drivers and barriers. This was followed by a concept test, where naming options were tested and options for possible packs with images of the baby with the cereals were included. The results showed a higher preference for the brand name followed by the category and a significant predisposition to purchase the product.

A communication plan was then created in collaboration with nutrition experts and the communication was tested to identify the most relevant messages. During the first 6 months of the new launch, the brand tracked Brand Awareness, which increased from 23% to 55%.

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