Supporter-type people strive for safety. They don’t like change and prefer well-established, familiar paths. The opinions of others matter to them; what the majority finds appropriate is suitable for them. They are follower types, and if they are in trouble, they need a leader. Caring for people is not only their mantra, but thanks to their tremendous empathy, they really pay attention to their friends, loved ones, and even strangers. They have a tough time deciding, and often try to shirk responsibility. They cannot deal with crises, just as they cannot handle new rules and structures. These consumers of mass-market goods do not like to stand out from the crowd.
The Supporter Strategy
Following personality type-specific information, the Supporter strategy always builds to reach and serve the masses. It is crucial that the user is delighted with the product or service. It essentially determines the price strategy as well. The Supporter strategy always entails low prices and low margins. Although they want to reach the masses, they do not consider communication and sales important. The Supporter type includes such costs in their plans but will only spend minimally on these “elusive” elements. The Supporter strategy, unlike the Ruler or Individual ones, focuses on slower and more stable construction. There are no plans to get rich quick but to move forward with predictable, continuous, small steps. This is true even if they can address greater market potential where appropriate. It should never be forgotten that a central element of the Supporter strategy is to ensure careful development. It is not about available potential, but the production capacity, usually an over-assured, pessimistic version of it. The Supporter strategy is obviously worth planning primarily for the Supporter owner or company manager, for whom there mustn’t be too many positive things at once. For them, the shock effect is a shock no matter what: if positive, if negative, the result will always be shocking. The Supporter strategy plans for wide distribution, since physical presence, proximity, and easy access are particularly crucial to the Supporter type. This is true for the parameters and composition of the product as well as for the communication used. A simple message and brand name that is easy to remember; no need to overdo it. The pricing and its messaging play a key role in communication. And it should always reflect the “cheap effect”. Even if, in absolute terms, the product itself is not cheap at all. We all know the typical trick that goes something like “was 3 euro, now only 1.99!”? We know that, in many cases, the product was only ever worth 1.99 anyway, but this Supporter technique is used to encourage Supporter customers to make a purchase. And even if the Supporter consumer is at home or in calm conditions, and even though they tell themselves that it is a trick, the product still ends up in their cart in the heat of the moment, driven by emotions. The Supporter strategy always operates with emotions and does not target the specific customer directly but focuses on the customer’s loved ones and other people who are important to the customer. We should note that although the Supporter strategy targets Supporter people, those people are not buying for themselves. Two essential elements of the Supporter strategy are the structure of the organisation and the motivation system of the people, which is to say, everything that revolves around the employees. The Supporter strategy cannot cut costs in this area, even if it is often justified.
The success and failure of the Supporter strategy
Many in the management world do not value this strategic direction enough. Nor do textbooks in the West teach this in the first place. The reason is simple: these types of strategic solutions, which do not focus solely on business growth and focus too much on human factors, are considered weak. However, in many countries, a business does not work without this. Moreover, it can be said that it is challenging to imagine a long-term, successful operation without decision-makers moving in this direction sooner or later. A Ruler or Individual strategy provides a suitable path for market entry, but those successes will not be sustained without moving towards a Supporter strategy. After all, a customer focus, a loyal workforce, and a dedicated customer are still the bedrocks of a stable business. Moreover, while the two proactive strategies are not viable on their own, the Supporter strategy has built huge multinationals in recent decades. Another issue is that nowadays, Supporter-only strategies would die from the beginning, and huge investments would go nowhere. Supporter strategies were successful until the start of the Great Recession. From then on, they have not been functional, and companies operating with a traditional Supporter strategy have had to move in a new direction; otherwise, they have slowly but surely downsized.
The Supporter Strategy in 2021
Well, the Supporter strategy is certainly not the solution to the current situation. Right now, people need strength and professionalism, not emotions along simply constructed tracks. While one might think that the COVID crisis has made customers more sensitive, more emotional, this is by no means true. Everyone sees that the most important things are predictability, the perfect professional background, and building rules and following them. And that’s not what the Supporter strategy is all about. It is too weak to propel businesses towards success. While in 2008, experts said that after the first two or three years of the crisis, we should return towards the Supporter path just like before the crisis, today’s opinion is entirely different. The Supporter strategy, which ignores awareness, rationality, and facts, will not be successfully applied for a very long time, as humanity is now frightened. And this fear is not unfounded. We already have the first research on how the COVID crisis has pushed awareness and factuality into the foreground, and how it has shoved rational decision-making into the background. This drastic change will teach a lesson to a lot of large multinationals companies for years to come!