This cartoon is part of a new series I developed with Motista to parody the state of traditional market research. Motista is giving away a signed print of this cartoon to everyone who shares a comment or suggests a cartoon idea at the Motista blog by July 17th.
What really and truly motivates the consumer is so fundamental, yet it’s so often guesswork. A deep understanding of the consumer is often the lightest part of our plan.
It’s easier (and more quantifiable) to diagnose competitors, so we tend to focus our energy there. That gives us tunnel vision. We start to compete on one-upmanship, and lose sight of the actual consumer.
HBS professor Youngme Moon captured this dynamic in “Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd”:
“In category after category, companies have gotten so locked into a particular cadence of competition that they appear to have lost sight of their mandate–which is to create meaningful grooves of separation from one another. Consequently, the harder they compete, the less differentiated they become …Products are no longer competing against each other; they are collapsing into each other in the minds of anyone who consumes them.”
Discovering a “meaningful groove of separation” is the trick. The key to unlocking that is knowing the consumer.
Motista co-founder Alan Zorfas expands this topic, including these insights:
“Decades after marketing has entered ‘the age of the consumer,’ it’s startling how little we do know—at any given time—about what’s truly motivating consumers to choose or advocate for brands. And it’s marketers who have to endure the pressures and pain points of this information gap. Especially at moments like ‘kickoff meetings.’”