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Get out from behind your desk
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“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” goes John le Carré’s famous saying. It’s an important lesson for marketers to remember, as they grapple with sophisticated segmentation studies and sit in on powerpoint presentations about their consumers.

Yellowwood has recently released a white paper on brand relevance, entitled How to know more about your market than anyone else.  The paper serves as a guide for marketers to achieve and sustain relevance with their markets - the traps to avoid and the best practices to implement to get real insight.

One of the findings of the paper is the importance of getting out into your market to uncover real insight. Here's why getting out from behind your desk and into your consumers' lives is so important.:

Discover the unknown uses of your products and services

Did you know that in the townships, Sunlight soap is used for much more than washing dishes? When times are tough it is also used to ease constipation, to alleviate skin problems, as a deodorant and as toothpaste. By getting out into your market you may discover surprising ways in which your products are used - which can in turn lead to creative campaigns which really resonate, or to new product development to better meet the needs of your market. Kiwi shoe polish, for example, discovered that their polish was used for tyre maintenance and the interiors of cars, and ran with advertising that explicitly made reference to this - showing their consumers that they really understand them.

Better understand your consumers' context

Brand relevance is all about context. If you truly understand your consumers' ecosystems, you're much more likely to know what they love, need and value. If you get out and see what lives your consumers lead, you can see first-hand what their daily worries are, what stresses them out. You are no longer blinkered by your own brand and category, and are better placed to innovate to meet their needs - whether by tweaking your products and services to help them with a daily chore, or changing your advertising to connect with them on something they care about. Take an anthropological view. Live, think and act like your consumers.

Differentiate beyond off-the-shelf studies

If you are building a picture of your consumers by using standard studies and segmentations (such as generational profiles or LSM), remember that your competitors have access to exactly the same information. How will you differentiate based on the same information that your competitors have? For example, the financial services industry relies on income level to stratify the market, and the result is almost entirely undifferentiated product offerings between financial service providers.

Focus on quality of insight 

Big quantitative studies are important, and can provide invaluable data on which to base marketing decisions. But often not enough focus is placed on the quality of consumer insight required for truly revolutionary marketing. As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times points out, "big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary" - and understanding what is desperately necessary requires an empathetic, intuitive understanding of your market's needs and drivers. It requires a holistic view of the consumer, taking into consideration their rational and emotional, conscious and unconscious drivers. This kind of insight is much more likely to come from being out in the field, seeing and interacting with your consumers. As Shirley Harding, Head of Market Research at Standard Bank says, "sometimes it only takes observing five clients to give you a great idea, which often cannot be achieved with thousands of quantitative survey responses."

Data doesn't show you motivations. It's important to always ask why is something happening? What is driving this behaviour? Often consumers won't even know why they buy what they buy - and some won't tell you if they do. Getting out into your market lets you focus on the quality of your consumer insight, rather than the quantity of the responses you get.

Get over yourself - you are not the consumer

It's important to remember that South Africa is a massively diverse country. It's very likely that the market for your products and services thinks and behaves quite differently to you. Getting a good feel for your market is crucial, so that you do not base marketing decisions on your own experience, when that experience may be totally irrelevant.

If you approach research with an anthropological mind-set, you can truly understand what makes your consumers tick. Immerse yourself in their world, and step out of your own comfort zone to learn more about them than anyone else. Armed with this insight, you can create marketing that resonates, leads to loyalty and increased love for your brand.

 


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