Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

The Human Truths Behind Consumer Behaviour


Published on

Market Watch is a snapshot of current issues and insights that can influence your consumers or customers and, therefore, impact your brand. This edition focuses on some core human insights and how they have been used by brands.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

The Human Truths Behind Consumer Behaviour

  1. 1. Market Watch The Human Truths Behind Consumer Behaviour July 2013
  2. 2. Feature Focus Market Watch – July 2013 Personality matters In marketing we are constantly preoccupied with finding ways to win over our target consumers, and gain advantage on our competitors. The trends and technologies that appeal to our consumers may vary from year to year, so when it comes to building brands it is vital to root our positioning in more enduring factors. This is why understanding the personality of target consumers is becoming more important. Getting to grips with the personality of consumers helps us to reach deep insights that can guide the more permanent direction of the brand; insights focus more on what is enduring than on what is new and say more about the consumer than the product. Having a clear picture of who the consumer truly is as a person; how they think, what motivates them in their life, not just in the category can help to guide us to the most profitable marketing choices – from assortment to communication. Taking a step back from the brand and the category to look at the consumer as a person and to find insights can help stimulate new thinking to deliver activities that the target will really connect with. Of course brands, like people can be seen to have personalities, and in the same way that people form friendships, they are more attracted to brands that have similar “personalities” to them. Although they may sometimes be attracted to aspirational or opposite personalities, even this can be anticipated if we have a deep enough understanding of them as people. For example, Swaminathan, Stilley and Ahluwalia (2009) found that anxious individuals tend to have a low view of self, so are drawn to brands that seem to signal their ideal self concept through brand personality. The study also found that consumers’ relationship style was a part of their personality which effected brand choice: those who sought intimacy preferred “sincere” brands (such as Gap) to “exciting” brands (such as Abercrombie), whereas the reverse was true for those who avoided intimacy. Another piece of research conducted in Taiwan (by Long-Yi Lin, 2010) found a significant positive relationship between the extroversion personality trait and “excitement” brand personality in toy and game buyers. It also found that brands which appear to have agreeable and open personalities achieve better brand loyalty. The deep understanding of consumer personalities is a relatively new but growing focus in marketing, with Nielsen recently adding a personality profiling tool to its armoury, ‘Leveraging such personality traits allows marketers to craft their media language and brand positioning to target certain personalities and drive sales,’ explained Todd Kaiser, Senior Director of Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. A focus on true personality in understanding consumers will move consumer-brand relationships closer towards our real life interpersonal friendships – which are not based on shopping habits or product preferences, but on a deeper holistic perception of other people. ©XPotential 2013 2
  3. 3. Trend spotting Market Watch – July 2013 We want people to know who we are From a young age, we begin to recognise our own name as important. It is the first thing we learn to write and likely to be the word we feel most connected to, with personalised products being particularly prevalent in children’s toys and accessories etc. Our name is such a basic part of who we are that it can get overlooked when we think about identity, however it is a word we have such a powerful connection to that it leads to some interesting phenomena. We even develop a natural preference for words which sound or look like our own name. Research by Pelham et al attributes this “nameletter effect” to implicit egotism – whereby we are all unconsciously attracted to things that remind us of ourselves. Even a small part of our names can grab our attention and create a positive association. At XPotential, we often talk about the RAS (Reticular Activating System) which enables us to filter the information around us to only pay attention to what is relevant. The RAS is part of what causes our preference for words that remind us of our own names; our name is of course very relevant to us. Psychological neuroscience studies (such as Carmody and Lewis) have also shown that one’s own name stimulates distinctive areas of the brain in a way that sets it apart from other words and noises. Two brands that have recently benefitted from this simple consumer understanding are Starbucks and Coca-Cola. Both have introduced names on bottles / cups. At Starbucks, the customer’s name is written on their cup by the barista, helping them to give the beverage to the right person. At Coca-Cola, as part of their “Share a Coke with friends” campaign, names have been printed onto bottles. Aside from grabbing attention and building positive feeling through use of our names, both of these initiatives have cashed in on social media culture. At its heart social media is a tool of self expression, essentially your Facebook profile is “you-in-a-page”, and with the Timeline layout that features large background banner photos as well as a profile picture the site is moving further in the expressive direction. Although simple (and potentially not that interesting to our friends!), photos of the cups and bottles featuring users names have been a great social media sharing success. Self-affirmation is not just an attention seeking activity, it also has health benefits. A study from Carnegie Mellon University recently found that thinking about what is important to us as individuals before an exam reduced the detrimental effects of stress. For brands, connecting with people by name is becoming an easier possibility thanks to personalised technologies, direct mail, mobile etc. and brands that tap into this could be seizing a powerful opportunity. Daniel Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People attributed some of his success to using people’s names repeatedly. As he put it, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ©XPotential 2013 3
  4. 4. Consumer connections Market Watch – July 2013 We engage with what we care about Engagement has become a hot topic since the rise of social media in marketing. In this medium, the consumer is required to take more of an active role, rather than e.g. TV advertising where they are purely receptive. When considering how to engage consumers in new media, brands need to take a holistic view of what matters to them. In seeking their engagement, we are competing for their time, not with our category competitors but with the consumer’s whole life. Although new media technologies can allow for creative communication innovations, if real consumer insight is not at the heart then they will not be successful; the vast majority of facebook brand apps have practically no usage. Getting a discount remains the number one motivation for consumers to interact with a brand. Most brands are not a strong enough talking point to engage consumers alone, only 0.5% of a brand’s fans actually talk about the brand on facebook and 80% of buyers know little or nothing about the brands they use. Thinking about brands is unlikely to be a big part of their daily lives. As brands, engaging with target consumers requires insight into their lives, and into what motivates them to act. Is it a competitive nature? Reaching goals they have set themselves? The opportunity for self expression? By aligning brand activities to what consumers really care about in their lives, we create better opportunities to reach them. For example, the Tweet-a-beer campaign by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and Tenfour (where Twitter users could “tweet” each other beer money) was successful because it catered to users’ motivations for using Twitter, i.e. to connect with each other and build friendships, as well as demonstrate your great social life publicly! They understood that their consumers did not care about promoting a beer brand, but they did care about their friendships. ©XPotential 2013 Part of the importance of aligning content to what consumers care about is driven by what psychologists call Cognitive Dissonance, whereby we avoid information sources, people and groups that seem to be at odds with our views. This means that if we do not understand our consumers well enough to create brand content that reinforces their views and priorities, we risk distancing ourselves from them. As people, we engage with what we care about. “Care” is an emotional term, and unsurprisingly it is emotional narrative that people pay attention to and respond best to. Therefore understanding the emotional subjects that consumers care about is the vital first step in creating content that will engage, rather than disappear into the growing depths of new media campaigns that nobody noticed. 4
  5. 5. Retail Therapy Market Watch – July 2013 We want to be capable It seems obvious that people do not like to feel helpless or lost, yet this basic understanding does not always guide marketing decisions that involve the shopper. For example, the fragrance category in many retailers is full of obstacles blocking an easy, enjoyable experience for the shopper. Organisation of products can be confusing, if testers are unavailable the choice is made harder and ultimately if the perfume is locked in a cabinet or behind a counter, the shopper is unable to complete their shop without help. It seems as though protecting the products from shoplifters has taken priority ahead of delivering the best shopper experience. Retailers who reverse this can reap great rewards; when Tesco moved their fragrance offering from behind the counter to the shelves, their sales tripled. This represents a valuable shift in mentality from what is best for the company to what is best for the shopper (which of course benefits the company in return). Marks & Spencer’s Dine in for Two for £10 offer has been a roaring success not just because it represents good value, but because it makes it easy for shoppers to achieve what they want (the perfect night in). Taking the time to understand the wants of shoppers and implementing solutions to help them achieve these goals creates a subtle positive experience that reinforces the basic human desire we all have to be capable, this positivity in turn helps to foster affinity with the brands and retailers that deliver it. This method is a big step up in reliability from testing on the back of the hand, and again focuses on the needs of the shopper to deliver the best possible experience in store, by increasing the shopper’s capability to complete their in store mission. The human imagination is an incredible thing, and understanding deeply how shoppers think and imagine is an essential foundation for in-store activities. We all have mental models for how to do things, even if we have never done them before. If the shopper experience is far from the mental model expectations, it will not be so easily accepted and therefore not as successful. The brands that win in store are those that offer the solutions Another category where shoppers can often feel insecure in their that most conveniently meet the shoppers’ motivations. By choices, seeking reassurance and recommendation online etc. is using the available marketing tools in-store to guide shoppers cosmetics. With many stores having a no-returns policy on these quickly and confidently to the right choice to satisfy their items because of hygiene and safety, the consequences of making needs, brands have the opportunity to build trust and loyalty. the wrong choice can be a significant pain for the shopper. In order This does mean making their choice clear and easy; the more to help shoppers make the right choice, Boots No 7 now offers a options we have, the less able we are to decide. An service where a device is used to measure skin type and tone to help overwhelming range can leave us flustered and impair our shoppers to find the right foundation for them, so that they can be need to feel that we are capable. confident in their purchase. ©XPotential 2013 5
  6. 6. Brand barometers Market Watch – July 2013 We want to fit in One brand that has fully committed to its insight is the polarising apparel brand Abercrombie & Fitch. Originally their positioning was clear and insight based, for American teens who strived to be one of the “popular and beautiful kids”. Their target consumers are teenagers, notoriously anxious about how they are seen by others, so their desire is to fit in as part of the group – not to be singled out as different, this is reflected in the range of “safe” clothing styles. Even aside from the teenage group, a sense of belonging and fitting in is important for our well-being, so brands that use this understanding can build strong connections with their consumers, when targeted correctly. Originally the execution of A&F’s targeting was successful, however more recently the brand’s goal of exclusively appealing to popular and attractive people has become widely known rather than implied. In particular, following an interview with their CEO that explicitly affirmed this (“some people don’t belong in our clothes”), the brand’s perceived personality has gone from being popular to nasty. Now A&F has been attacked through the social media campaign “Fitch the Homeless” which has gone viral, with people deliberately undermining the “desirable people only” policy by giving the brands clothes to homeless people. Since this negative publicity, same store sales have dropped 15% (although the company claim this is due to unrelated inventory issues). Their original insight that their consumers wanted to fit in with the desirable crowd still holds true, but now the brand seems fascist and that is not desirable. A recent You Gov poll found that in the UK over two thirds of us (68%) won’t buy products from a company if it has a bad reputation, and 80% of Nottingham University students opposed A&F taking part in their careers fair. Ironically for this all-American teen brand, the story of Abercrombie and Fitch reflects the progression of many American teen movies, featuring just the type of characters they are trying to resonate with – who start out on top as “the coolest kid in school” only to eventually fall from grace when they are exposed for being not very nice at all! ©XPotential 2013 6
  7. 7. Market Watch – July 2013 Market Watch is a snapshot of current issues and insights that can influence your consumers or customers and, therefore, impact your brand. If you would like further information about these articles, their references, or about the services that we offer, you can reach us on: (+44) 01628 485847 or visit our website : XPotential aligns individuals, functions and organisations, throughout the world, to create and deliver brand equity. Editor: Katie Mason ©XPotential 2013 7
  8. 8. “We align individuals, functions and organisations, throughout the world, to create and deliver brand equity” Take a look at our website to find out more about us: ©XPotential 2014 8