xrematon

July 16, 2013

Where do good ideas come from? Part 1

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Innovation,Marketing — by xrematon @ 10:22 am
Tags: , , , ,

As someone who was on the WPP Fellowship programme, which emphasises the importance of ambidextrous brains, I have been following with interest the recent discussion about the relative importance of intuition versus analysis.

So what is going on to make this issue so ‘hot’ at the moment? Well, there’s a lot happening in technology which has the potential to change how we approach marketing. As this piece  highlights

“tremendous strides have been made in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience which help us more deeply understand how people process and respond to the world around them.”

The article is worth a read as it goes to briefly assess the different technologies on offer, many of which seem to involve off-putting acronyms. These include fMRI (Functional Magnetic resonance Imaging), EEG (Electro-Encephalography), as well as physiological measures (heart rate, changes in breathing etc), and eye-tracking. For an assessment of whether neuromarketing is bonkers or brilliant, check out this link.

Perhaps the area attracting the most attention is ‘Big Data’, which, admittedly, is a rather amorphous term, but basically involves collecting and analysing data produced by individuals, rather than directly studying them as one does in traditional market research. This analysis can be used to gain better picture of consumers’ behaviour. For thought-provoking perspectives on this area, spend some time on the blog of Alex Steer, senior strategist at Fabric Worldwide and a fellow Fellow from the WPP programme.

Kip Voytek, Director of Digital & Analytics at MDC Partners, writing in the Guardian Media Network Blog, described how combing through client data helped them find inspiration for a campaign. Their client was a beer brand, whose social media conversations peaked – unusually compared to other beer brands – on Sundays evenings. The agency worked out drinkers of the beer were enjoying their drink at the end of a long weekend being a good dad with the family, as oppose to being drunk to celebrate the end of the week as is the case for many other beers. Hey presto – that should help with how to position the product in a meaningful way.

Developing profiles or typologies of consumers is another core part of marketing. Sophisticated analysis is already in use, but a recent article in the Economist shows how this kind of output can be obtained in a different way – how about assessing people’s personal characteristics from their tweet streams?

So whilst some may feel inclined to go for the next new thing in technology and analytics, there are others who are pushing back. Diageo recently asked its agencies for ‘more creativity please’. A more extreme example is going for a live, improvised ad – which goes in the face of the idea that extensive research and pre-testing a requirement.

Rather than plump for one side over the other, I’m pretty clear what the answer is – if one wishes to go down the sensible and uncontroversial route – namely, that both sides are critical to getting good ideas. To put it crudely, you need a bit of everything to maximise your chances of getting those breakthroughs that are so desperately needed in today’s mature consumer markets. I would like to finish with a quote from Adam Kleinberg, the CEO of a US interactive agency, which captures well the need for a diversified approach.

“Data can help you avoid risk (if it’s not misinterpreted). Data can help you make incremental gains. If you’re very lucky, data could lead you to a groundbreaking “aha!” moment. But those insights are rare. And insight is vital. Sometimes data provides insight. Sometimes it provides confusion. Insight is just as likely to come from the gut of a seasoned copywriter—or even the whim of some millennial HTML programmer—than it is from some data analyst poring over reams of spreadsheets. You’re just as likely to find insight in the shower as you are in a spreadsheet.”

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