KEY IDEA: Marketers are in love with numbers but numbers don’t tell you why a consumer becomes a customer or why they chose a competitor’s product. It’s time to stop getting buried with tons of research and take a common-sense approach to branding.
Earlier this year a client spent a lot of money doing qualitative research on his product category. When the research was over he read the findings and said: “this doesn’t make sense because it’s contrary to what we have learned from current customers”.
I love sitting in research and listening to people talk about shopping but when I go out and watch customers shop I often see the opposite of what people told us in research. Too many marketers rely on research that doesn’t answer key questions.
A lot of retailers will let marketers watch people shop from vantage points within the store. I have spent hours doing this and it can tell you a hell of a lot about how customers shop and compare products. For example, a pasta brand wanted to know why they were losing sales to private label even with a price drop. We saw people comparing ingredients with packages side by side. It seems people were not interested in “protein” anymore. It came down to calories, salt, and other ingredients.
Gen Z, Millennials and Boomers are not that different
There has been so much written by certain demographics but time and time again I continue to find that there really isn’t much difference between them for certain product categories. Magazines and research companies would like us to believe there re huge differences but that’s a canard.
A customer who is a millennial probably chooses your brand because of the same reasons as a boomer. In other words, stop buying into statistics and understand that people buy both for illogical as well as logical reasons. If you try to please too many of them you’ll end up not pleasing any of them.
Get out and talk to consumers while they’re shopping. Talk to retailers and the people who stock the shelves and ask them questions. You’ll be surprised at their insights but, more importantly, you’ll get away from numbers.