Communication Hindsight or Consumer Insight

Posted on: December 2, 2018

There is no art whereby to find the mind’s construction in the face.

 ~ Shakespeare.

What Shakespeare was hinting here is that the complexity of the human mind cannot be fathomed from the surface. One must dive into the depths of human consciousness, to fully comprehend it.
Yet, with the superfluity of information floating all around us, we all have been blessed with misconceptions. And words, especially jargons, being used loosely have added to such misconceptions.
Consumer Insights, like any popular term, has also been used as a blanket term to cover a wide range of topics, some of which, may not necessarily fit the bill.
Ever wondered why even big brands fail in their communication? When these Brands don’t flinch before investing huge moolah into Advertising why would the brand messaging still miss the mark?
Most Consumer Research relies on formulaic approaches and relies too much on consumer’s own rational explanations of their perceptions and behavior. The result is half-baked, misconstrued data around which a consumer insight blueprint is designed. The fate is inevitable.
When Tata’s Nano was slated for launch in India, it had kindled hopes for many aspiring car owners. It had everything going for it. Tata’s revered Brand Image, a fairly stylish look for a decent family car with an affordable price tag. Yet, since its launch in 2009, Tata Nano failed to secure substantial sales growth. What went wrong?
The tagline for the Brand product was—“The Cheapest Car”. For a car specifically designed to cater to the Indian Market, the marketing team failed to gauge the emotional mindset of the target audience, to whom buying a car was a lifestyle statement. Mr. Ratan Tata eventually owned up to this marketing faux pas stating - “it was unfortunate”.
Several big brands such as Coke, Pepsi, GM and McDonald’s have experienced similar bitter consequences of misguided Brand Communication.
The blame can’t be entirely pinned on their advertising and marketing professionals. Their efforts have always been brand-centric and, given their skills and expertise, it’s unlikely they would miss the mark by such a huge margin.
Unfortunately, marketing teams and ad execs are often marred by a lack of in-depth consumer insights and thus compelled to operate without really understanding how their products and brands fit into people’s lives and emotional needs. It’s no different from going out fishing with a torn net.
Recently, I was conversing over the subject with Holger E. Metzger, the founder of TMRC Impact. He conducts Psychological Research into perceptions and motivations, ethnography on behavior, and subsequent workshops to craft sharper brand experiences and more effective communication. Holger explains Consumer Insights as -
…the basis for a resonating brand experience. Insights need to be obtained by understanding people’s subconscious drivers as much as their intellectual choices, and their personal life narratives. ~ Holger E. Metzger.
Psychological Research must be at the very core of any Brand Communication endeavor, without which it’s like going into the battlefield with an incorrect navigation map.