In 2000, an article in Wireless called into question whether machines were quite the panacea we hoped they were. It was possible, said the author, that this dependence on machines was not going to a good place.
At his presentation at The Un-Conference, Chris Wren included this deceptively simple observation: “Follow the insights,” he suggested, “Wherever they may lead”. I was struck immediately by the extent to which brands don’t. Too often it seems research functions as something of a confirmation bias – reinforcing beliefs that are already deeply held.
Marketers can be surprisingly heavy-handed. The temptation, especially with big brands, is to thunder out answers that let customers know, in unequivocal terms, that they have been recognised. Think about the almost coarse way in which airlines greet their frequent fliers – with a bunch of features dressed up as privileges and a tiered recognition system that allocates them a colour.
Short answer – yes it is, but not in the way it was. I haven’t met a brand manager yet who didn’t tell me that they had a differentiated product. I’m not surprised. It’s part of the job description of any brand owner to be marketing something that is disruptive, market-changing, blue-ocean, category-killing … 15 years on from when I first suggested “parity is the real pariah”, every brand’s still talking up difference – but consumers are increasingly hard pressed to see any.
This is the year of wearables it seems. Morgan Stanley are predicting shipments will top 70 million this year and grow to 248 million by 2017. But the thought that wearables themselves will feature in consumer and business spending across areas ranging from fashion and fitness, healthcare and insurance also points to escalation of another trend. Products and services are now less about what consumers have or get and more about who they are and want to be.
In the first article in this series on purpose, we looked at the nature of purpose and espoused the view that purpose has two facets: functional (where it describes what the company must get done); and intentional (where it articulates what the company would like to see change in the wider world.) In this article, we look at how purpose and its impacts might be quantified and the benefits that a measurement system might bring.
Some thoughtful work by John Hagel in this article in which he suggests that economies are increasingly divided by two dynamics – those sectors that are scaling, and those that are shattering. As those dynamics become more radical, the pressures they exert on businesses are also becoming more extreme.
Making people more interested in your brand is one challenge. Making them more loyal is quite another.
Dr Gerrard Gibbons once shared this wonderful insight: “Every day, brands make bets on human behaviour”. He’s absolutely right – but it’s a confronting thought because, at first airing, it puts so much of what marketers do at risk and beyond our control.
Every brand wants the insights that great research brings. And every consumer wants the relevance. They want products that fit with them, service that gels with them, ideas that excite them, attitudes that ring true … They want brands to read their minds, even though they themselves may not be clear as to why they make the decisions they do. But no-one wants intrusion. And no-one wants the same questions and the same ratings system and the same format. Perhaps it’s because they know that the researchers aren’t actually interested in them at all. It’s not personal, it’s research. The people asking the carefully formatted questions are just looking for data. They just want another answer to their questions coming out of another mouth in a format that they feel comfortable with. It’s always hard to get people involved if they don’t believe that the feedback they give is going to make any difference. It’s even harder when they see brands then making changes that they don’t believe are in their interests as consumers or …