For more than 14 years we have been encouraging our clients to go to the Jungle in order to study how their customers behave in their natural brand environment. Here they can observe just how they are making buying decisions and most importantly begin to see why they make them.
An additional benefit is that they also connect with their front of house teams better if they can see what is going on with their own eyes. They come to understand how important it is to genuinely support their Directors of First Impressions.
We have got down and dirty to follow parcels right to the point of delivery and customer interaction, become tourists walking the streets of London to understand the competitive pressures in London and immersed ourselves in hundreds of customer journeys, all in order to give our clients deeper insight into why their customers make their brand decisions.
I was therefore very excited to read a terrific article in the March 2014 Harvard Business Review ( http://hbr.org/2014/03/an-anthropologist-walks-into-a-bar/ar/1) that talks about very much the same thing from a social anthropology perspective.
It makes such good sense, especially in a world in which we are all told that Big Data will rule everything and give brand owners the insights into the future they need. Deep down we know that this will only be one part of the customer insight battle and also that only a few can really afford to invest in it!
Big Data can tell us the “what, where and when” of customer buying behaviour but never the “why”.
If you run a brand or attempt to influence its performance then please read this article, think about it and then get out of your glass edifice and get down and dirty at the coal face, you will never regret the time you have invested.
Either that or just carry on pretending you know why your customers make the decisions they do and basically make it up as you go along, it’s a lot easier and cheaper!!
Hubris is a dreadful thing, as Jim Collins pointed out in How the Mighty Fall, and is the death of many a very decent brand