We know that there are pro’s and con’s to all types of research, be it qualitative or quantitative, and we know that the debate as to how well market research works, is a hot topic in our industry. It’s an expensive exercise, and one that often doesn’t yield what we had expected or hoped. But irrespective, we know that this research is imperative -it’s the way that marketers and advertisers make sure that the inferences and opinions we may have are real and true, it provides us with the stats we need to convince an audience, and provides us with the rich narratives we need to buff up our point. For clients it’s used to cover their backs, so at the end of the day they can say their decisions were guided by research.
So it’s about listening to consumers. But is it really? Prominent marketing experts have shown and explained that research situations are vastly different from real life decision-making and are questionable in the insights they give us. Malcolm Gladwell explained that participants try come up with elaborate reasons to explain their behavior or choice when in reality, it was based on simple instinct. And Martin Lindstrom showed how a subconscious rational versus emotional tug of war takes over in decision making, something that is very difficult if not impossible for the participant to explain. Not to mention advertising testing, the method which is most highly criticized for encouraging participants to pick ad’s apart, rather than consider it in a real life frame of reference. Basically, it comes down to the fact that consumers don’t know what they want, so asking them and depending on their answer is bound to be flawed on some level.
So no, I don’t believe that the question should be whether we listen, but how we listen. As Velma, Head of OIL, wrote in her 2009 Head and Heart article in Strategic Marketing, it is “up to us to apply a dash of common sense when interpreting results”. It is about creating the most natural environment for research, and then using our judgment, our intuition and our instincts as experts to read between the lines and tell the rocky outcrops of nonsense from the golden nuggets of true insight.
Trainee Strat Planner, OILRead more
The marketing furor of the week: GAP changing its new logo back to the classic design after users erupted on social media and criticised the company for the change. At first the company thought they would win consumers over by getting them to help design the new logo – which also backfired http://www.makeyourowngaplogo.com/ and http://www.craplogo.me/.
So finally they admitted defeat: “We recognise that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way.”
Marketing research suggests that it may have been a storm in a teacup. A survey by Ipsos Observer found that 80% of people didn’t even know about the logo switch. Only 29% said that a new logo would impact their decision to purchase a product from the company. And I bet of that 29%, very few would actually not buy something they wanted/liked because a corporate logo was different. As for the huge backlash from “customers” about the new logo? Less than 10,000 people were vocal in their dislike of the new logo in the social media arena. Of those 10,000, how many were actual customers of The GAP, buying GAP products regularly?
There is no denying the power of the online community. But let’s be honest people are always going to find something to complain about. Almost every update to Facebook drives huffs and puffs from the masses. Yet six months later we cannot think of life without these innovations.
Whilst GAP are being lauded for ‘listening to consumers’ in their reaction I think they are just being cowardly. If GAP had really been listening to their consumers in the first place then they would have had a very clear and good reason for changing their logo based on real consumer needs & a long term strategy of ultimately improving the customer experience. Judging by their reaction if feels like the change was not based in a consumer need, but because the board felt it was time for an update.
One would have expected a company the size of Gap to have the courage of their convictions and to be able to justify the change to the moaning twitterati rather succumbing to their whims and then opting for collaboration as an alternative to strategy, design or creative. Let’s be honest nothing beautiful has ever been deigned by committee.
As Jon Burg says in his post “leaning non to listen” http://www.jonburg.com/future/2010/10/learning-not-to-listen.html#tpe-action-posted-6a00e008ddd10888340133f514a31f970b. Sometimes customers are wrong. . Because at the end of the day, it’s our jobs as marketers to build our brands. YOU have to be more invested in your success than your customers. To be honest, almost every brand and every business is replaceable. And so, it is up to you to make your business tick.
Velma BothaRead more
I’m reading an interesting book entitled Persuasion by James Borg, which explores the art of influencing people. As I got more and more into the content it struck me as to how brands seek to influence and persuade people (consumers) every day. The fundamental objective of all brand communication or innovation is to persuade people to buy, love and stay with them.
In order to persuade people James Borg explores Aristotle’s art of persuasion formula. This includes a delicate balance of Ethos (character credibility and reputation), Pathos (emotional appeal and EQ) and Logos (logical reasoning).
Ethos is the passport factor. Without credibility, people simply won’t see you as a credible representation of the argument. Logos is the logical reasoning people will use to post-rationalize their decision to agree with your argument. But the most important element of this formula is Pathos- emotional appeal and EQ. Simply expressed this is empathy. And empathy is the ability to understand a person’s feelings, ideas and situation.
Only once empathy is established can you truly and sincerely communicate with someone. If a person feels that you display sincere empathy towards them- there is not much you couldn’t persuade them of. Sounds easy enough right? That’s why we hold millions of focus groups- to understand our consumers’ feelings, ideas and situation.
Well there is one more secret ingredient that unlocks the sincerity of your empathy. And that is listening. See, the problem with us humans is that we are rather self-centered. And that means we hear what we want to and conclude – usually too early – what is the most compelling manner in which to communicate with others.
This behaviour is very apparent in brand management.
If brands are to become highly persuasive – then they need to learn how to sincerely listen to their consumers. Listen so well, that they even hear what she/he is not saying.Read more
E-mails, phonecalls, sms’s and telecons– a recipe for super efficient business, but a non-verbal communication disaster!
‘Non-verbal communication?’ you say, well how many of you know that one of the five skills of emotional intelligence is nonverbal communication? Gestures, mannerisms, signals and movements characterize a conversation in a way that is completely subconscious to most, but absolutely critical to all when it comes to getting your point across to others, gauging their response and recognizing when and where to navigate different situations.
Take Sunday nights Loeries MC’s performances – if only they could only see the reaction they were getting from the audience they might have known to up and alter their game. Or take that conference call where you thought everything was going great, but little did you know that your audience on the other side were scratching their heads, raising their eyebrows or impatiently looking at their watch as you made your case.
Its about intuition. We all have it, but it becomes highly compromised when we don’t make effort to communicate face-to-face. The moral of the story is that sometimes words are just not enough. Sometimes we need to take the time, effort and expense to engage in person if we want to achieve what we desire from an interaction.
Trainee Strat Planner, OIL Cape TownRead more
The biggest event of the year, the Loeries, has come and gone. Albeit tongue in cheek, it takes a very arrogant industry to refer to their annual awards as the “biggest event of the year” in a year where we all know what the real big event was. And let’s be honest, there was not a lot that was spectacular or big about this years awards. Cape Town failed to create a festival atmosphere. The Good Hope Centre proved yet again to be a far from perfect venue. The ceremonies were long and boring. The work that was awarded failed to inspire, in most instances.
The work that did inspire was not advertising or even communications. The design of Soccer City and the World Cup closing ceremony were truly deserving of Grand Prixs and I have to admit that my visits to the BA slow lounge count among the highlights of my week. These are so much more than just communication – they are truly inspirational experiences that have captured imaginations, made a difference to people, the country and maybe even the world.
In comparison the advertising felt bland, boring, average. Not all of it – there were some lovely pieces of work (Topsy Foundation, Arrive Alive, Chicken Licken) amid some of the scam (Masterlocks?) but to be honest most of it was just more of the same.
Rather than patting themselves on the back with 3 days of booze and drug fueled hedonism, is it not time that the advertising industry took a long hard look at itself? Rather than celebrating mediocrity how can they use the Loeries to challenge themselves, promote thought leadership & encourage healthy debate?
The Design Industry have got it right with the Design Indaba & maybe that’s why they are walking away with all the memorable Grand Prix’s?
Head of OIL, Cape Town