In the last 6 months, has everything in your life remained unchanged? Your wants and needs exactly the same, habits and lifestyle status quo. No new technology that’s shifted how you do things, or influences or influencers that caused a swing in preferences? I didn’t think so.
So why do companies think it’s o.k. to rely on a 6-month old research project to get a better sense of how their consumers act, think and behave?
We evolve every day. A new mobile device changes the way we shop. A family situation impacts our ideas on healthcare. A streaming platform disrupts our viewing habits.
Companies that aren’t talking to their consumers more frequently put themselves at serious risk. They miss a growing trend – Greek yogurt anyone? They fail to see non-traditional competitors in their rear-view mirror – hello Airbnb. Or they misread the market – who wants my 3D TV?
And no, monitoring tweets is not talking to consumers. And neither is watching behavioral and transactional data roll in. We can do better than that. There are options today; from flexible ongoing qualitative initiatives like the ones we help our clients undertake, to consumer communities, to more non-traditional approaches. The important thing is that you’re actively learning and asking questions on a consistent basis. Not only will you stay a step ahead, but your consumers will appreciate your effort to figure out how you can best fit into their hectic lives and support them. And you will reap the rewards when you do just that.
Take the tweaking of Febreze as a poignant example. Once positioned to consumers as a way to eradicate smells, talking to and observing consumers over time proved the product actually fit in better as part of their cleaning routine; a cherry on top, a celebration when they are done. A perfect enhancement to what they already were doing. As a result of that pivot, sales of the formerly-fledgling product skyrocketed.
More recently, take Origins, the skincare company that spent two years engaging hundreds of millennials to better see things from their point of view. This exploratory endeavor unearthed a problem – that millennials feel their skin is losing its radiance – and led to innovation and success in the form of a new serum called Original Skin.
So how up to date are you on your audience’s habits? Do you know their latest need or what currently makes their day-to-day a bit harder than it should be? Do you give them a chance to lead the conversation, rather than simply react to what you’re putting in front of them? Talking to consumers consistently is not just about just having the freshest persona for marketing purposes. It’s about having your finger on the pulse in order to stay relevant and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.