by Kendall Nash
What is the most powerful thing a brand team can do? Invest in understanding their consumers by walking in their shoes.
Living life through the lens of your consumer – facing their realities, influencers and decisions – offers immeasurable value as you begin to see how your category, and ultimately your brand, fits into their entire journey as a consumer.
Get a taste for what your consumers experience in these three ways:
- Immersion is the single quickest way to get cross-functional teams more familiar with the landscape. At a minimum, try to include a store or restaurant visit in your quest for specific learning. Complete specific “missions” or tasks related to the brand and the category experience, and then regroup with your team to share learning.
- Consider more enhanced versions of immersion, such as in-context interviews or recruiting consumers to meet with your cross-functional team for interactive activities through a consumer workshop.
- On the far end of the spectrum, why not try to live like your consumer for a period of time? This might mean eating only microwavable meals for a week, or trying to feed a family of four a meal under $15. It might mean playing video games for 3 hours each night or buying a new appliance and trying to master it in 2 days. Real people live real lives and often we need to remind our teams of those realities.
What it all points toward is building a sense of empathy among the team by having experiences that enhance your understanding of the consumer and the role your brand plays in their lives. How can we possibly design products or services – or even innovate – for consumers if we don’t fully understand them? How can someone in Marketing, who is tasked with creating relevant messages that resonate with people, succeed without understanding firsthand what that consumer encounters on a daily basis? Empathy opens our ears to hear consumers more crisply.
To know what people want and need is a gift. It can’t be unseen. Brands that know their consumers will always beat the brands that make assumptions.
With an empathetic mindset, you will be slower to dismiss the things they say that you might not want to hear and quicker to understand their needs. If you truly keep the consumer front and center, you will conduct better research and create better products on their behalf. So get creative and find ways to really walk in their shoes to help grow your brand.
As a member of Burke’s Qualitative team, Kendall Nash is passionate about bringing her clients closer to consumers. She loves studying and interacting with people and strives to reveal their authentic reactions, needs, and emotional connections to brands.