the power of three

Analysis: why launching 3 distinct SKUs can help new food and drink products succeed

If you’re launching a new food or drinks product, my recommendation will be, if at all possible, to start out with three different and distinctive SKUs. 

Why? 3 is a profoundly appealing number for the human brain. It is the smallest number needed to recognize a pattern; for a pattern junkie like the brain, it delivers the maximum of memorability and efficiency. 

3 is culture and language

As a result, it is no accident that we find it everywhere, in language and culture. Three blind mice, The Three Musketeers, the Three Wise Men.

Research has shown that three bullet points do a better job persuading an audience than two or four, even in Powerpoint presentations. 

  • this point
  • followed by this point
  • and finished with this point

is the optimum format in communicating ideas and convincing people that your ideas have merit.

Take a look at this clip, where Steve Jobs, a master of persuasion, introduces the iPhone to the world, positioning it as “an iPod, a mobile phone, an internet communicator”.

The master at work

3 makes it easy to connect

When launching a new product, having three different variations available makes it easy for your audience to connect, both B2B and B2C. 

At my own startup, Boreal Botanical, we launched with 3 options, reishi, chaga and lion’s mane, specifically to be memorable. We had another option ready, but we decided to wait with adding it until we were established in market so we would not forgo the power of 3. 

Practical reasons to launch with a minimum of 3 SKUs

On top of this, there are, of course, practical reasons to fire your opening salvo with more than a single SKU. 

  • Three variants show the retailer that you’re serious about your product, that you’re a force to be reckoned with. 
  • Having variants allows you to colour block on shelf, creating a presence that a single product cannot hope to achieve. 
  • And finally, research shows that adding SKUs to a product range drives sales velocity but rarely leads to cannibalization. 
Colour blocking in action.

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