Working with lots of brands across many categories I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe a perhaps not-so-unusual phenomenon: After gaining a thorough understanding of the insights related to a category, brand marketers inevitably choose to position themselves around the “biggest truth” of the category. The insight with which no one can argue. Some classic (and real) examples:Authentically enjoyable by everyoneA better everydayBreakaway from ordinaryDelivers the fresh and unexpectedI’d bet big money you can’t guess which brands (or even categories) these come from. Furthermore, these statements go completely against a marketing idiom we all claim to wholeheartedly believe in as marketers: He who tries to be all things to all people usually succeeds in being nothing to anyone.So, what to do?We often talk about narrowly defining and marketing to a specific audience to avoid this problem. Why not apply that thinking upstream, at the insight level.When choosing the insight that will ultimately lead to your position, embrace the fringe. Look for those that only came up a few times in the research. Just because they are less talked about doesn’t make them any less true, or potentially compelling. Have the courage to be for some ONE.
At the start of my career in the early 90s, I interned at a new agency in London called Mustoe Merriman Herring and Levy. I was a wannabe junior planner, so when I met with the planning director, I was determined to learn as much as I could from him. He passed on this pearl of wisdom about planning that I still remember today. He told me a story about commuting on the train during the winter. It was a dark evening and as his train slowed down to a station, he looked out the window and was able to see into the kitchen of a house near the train tracks. In the kitchen, a woman stood at the sink doing dishes. The train stopped and he was able to watch her for a moment, and she was singing (maybe to a song on the radio, maybe not). The house was close enough to the train that he was able to see the brand name of the dish detergent she was using. He ended his story by saying..."that's planning".
I thought of that the other day when I came across this wonderful series of short films about the lives of New Yorkers run in the NYT back in the summer of 2009. It showed me that even though we are often looking for big insights or truths that resonate with huge numbers of people, it's the individual stories within that reveal the gold. The piece is called 1 in 8 million. A belated Happy New Year from Egg - 2010 has started like 2009 finished, hence the rather late first post of the year!
From a business point of view, the last year has essentially been about the economy and what we were once told was the worst recession since the Great Depression. I've long held the belief that the depth of recessions are manifestations of our own fears, i.e. we're told there's a big recession, so we slow our spending and boy, wow, we're suddenly in a recession. I'm not discounting all the significant economic indicators, but I believe false pessimism leads to a deeper hole than one we might originally have been in. So I was interested and chagrined to see this graph, courtesy of the Societé Générale which shows how economists are largely far more optimistic about recessions than the reality.
As James Montier, the author of the report wrote, "when you look at their record, it's clear that the three blind mice have more credibility". A question I'll pose now and try to answer later is this...if economists can be this wrong about predicting future behavior, how about brands?
Eggs are experts in identifying consumers' emotional and functional needs and can map a marketplace by overlaying them with consumer segments to see where and when they matter most. It looks like this type of emotional need-mapping is catching on – literally.
A recent Google map mash-up called “I Feel” pinpoints what best meets consumers’ emotional needs in New York City, Toronto and London. Nine moods guide you through the three major cities so you can decide what to see and do with locations and activities you might not think of, but can discover solely by sentiment.
Feeling energetic in NYC? Head to NY Trapeze School. Feeling naughty? Experience the peek-a-boo bathroom walls at Thai restaurant Peep. Hungover? Enjoy Sunday brunch at Tea & Sympathy before a snooze in a quiet corner of Central Park. There are also suggestions for when you feel sophisticated, romantic, manly, girly and broke.
The best part about the “I Feel” series is that with Google’s open codes and creator Andy Whitlock’s friendly invites, anyone can self-select mood solutions for all to see. And with a new version due in the New Year, along with increased collaboration as word spreads, “I Feel” maps could help prove the power of brands that meet emotional needs.
As a seasonal side note, the “just for fun” map features one of my favorite feelings. I, for one, feel Christmassy for at least three months of the year and can’t wait to ask fellow cheermeisters to contribute by mapping a few favorite holiday hot spots…
The Dozen is an eclectic take on innovation, branding, media, strategy and research, brought to you by the creative minds at Egg Strategy.
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