Stepping up in 2009: Knowing What Consumers Want- Today

No one doubts that Consumers’ deep feelings and emotions-what they really want -will impact the way they think about your company, brand and category.  Nor that those wants keep changing in response to a tumultuous world.

How can marketers keep nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, and mind both open to change and focused on the deep insights we need to stay relevant?

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A rigorous use of research techniques can help go beyond what Consumers typically say–to what they deeply feel and think in their hearts and minds. It’s there – in their often unspoken emotions – that new “aha’s” or insights are hidden that might drive action and reveal how your brand can uniquely respond.

Let the competition give in to impatience and costly temptations of believing that they already know, that their brand today is that same as last year, or that segments are just like them.  Mining for treasure takes a bit of time upfront, paying off by enabling an elegant solution. 

  • Ethnographers know how to live, observe and listen right in the consumers’ natural environment – whether this be at the ‘moment of truth’ at retail point of purchase, the doctor’s office where the doctor and patient/caregiver are communicating or not, or  the home or work place where they may be using your product or not.
  • Consumers can keep diaries that reveal unmet needs and concerns in new ways, and often provide concrete feedback about compelling visual imagery and language.  Insight from diaries of targets’ days or a week of a particular daily routine can be enriched with video, written stories or visual collages.
  • Further insight can be generated by bringing collages/diaries into qualitative settings to discuss. Much can be learned by directly listening and observing which pictures are part of their story, which ones are not, and striving to uncover the higher order emotions driving the greatest unmet needs that also best fit with your brand promise. More can be revealed by exposing them to further visuals and insights to encourage them to build a new brand story that is meaningful and unique.
  • The internet enables customers’ to think about your questions in the privacy of their homes and at a time that works for them. When they’re more comfortable and relaxed,  you’re more likely to uncover deep emotions, and hints about what may be holding them back.

Their responses – generated solo or within community   ad boards – can be analyzed and interpreted by psychologists, sociologists or anthropologists to help pull out the deepest meaning, consistencies and insights, to discover what might be motivating above and beyond the current brand profile or story.

  • Learning from a full spectrum of targets is often cost effective to further mine new and relevant insights, and help prioritize brand targeting efforts.  Identifying who to speak to in research is often not fully appreciated and approached with enough rigor – it’s a great opportunity. Segments beyond your traditional target can have significant impact on your business, for example:
    • If you market to caregivers/parents, have you also spoken to the actual end user or child?  Often a missed opportunity in Pharmaceutical DTC Marketing…
    • Juicy learning can come from current franchise or loyalists; they have a lot to tell that can help insure that your brand promise is spot on or not…

What are you doing to keep your brand up to date?  Feel like sharing?

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