Deep insight in consumer behaviour is what marketing should offer, writes branding guru Tom Doctoroff, author of What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism, and China’s Modern Consumer, on his LinkedIn page. Cluttering that insight with “exaggerated faith in algorithms, programmatic efficacy and hyper-personalization,” is not helpful he adds. And: “Insights are not observations.”
Technological innovation is not the only starting point for branding, customer experience, and product development. A brand’s relentless relevance must also spring from deep insight into consumer behavior. In an era characterized by exaggerated faith in algorithms, programmatic efficacy and hyper-personalization, marketers should answer a higher calling to embrace psychology and cultural anthropology to penetrate the souls – and lives — of consumers.
Insights are not observations. They latter record what people say or do. The former reveal inner desire.
The first character of the word insight in Chinese is dong, which means “hole.” It is a fitting parallel; insights into consumer behavior are deep. They need to be unearthed. Insights explain fundamental motivations for behavior and preference, answering the question “Why?” More specifically, this article advocates the most powerful insights are tensions – between and within cultural and/or human truths – and brands must use them maximize relevance.
It’s worth noting global brands often struggle to maintain relevance across far-flung markets because they ignore the importance of underlying urges in determine buying behavior.
Some of the greatest failures in China, for example, have been caused by cultural tone deafness. Ebay didn’t appreciate the need for reassurance when making virtual transactions. Kellogg cereal misjudged the importance of a “mom’s warm hug” in the morning when launching cold, crunchy breakfast cereal. Best Buy underestimated price sensitivity when promoting the expertise of in-store sales personnel.
Across the developing world, Unilever’s Dove “Real Beauty” positioning – advocacy of women defining their own standards of attractiveness irrespective of social context — fell flat because the brand failed to appreciate the role of external admiration in non-individualistic markets such as the US and Europe.
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