THE CULT OF NUMEROLOGY

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We live in an information age, where our decisions are ruled by numerical data that promise to clear all our doubts and ensure assertiveness.

Today, no doctor would dare diagnose without having at least 25 lab tests at hand; no corporate decision is made without consulting last quarter’s stock exchange results, or better still, next quarter’s; and, obviously, there is no marketer who doesn’t believe in market research. Striving to validate our criteria, we have lost a vital dexterity, not just in brand building, but also in the practice of any profession, and that is: Instinct, and when I say instinct I mean that profound knowledge ratified by experience and guided by our persistence.In the 80’s, if we had asked a thousand people anywhere in Latin America if they would ever agree to spend $3 for a cup of coffee, the Starbucks brand would, certainly, not exist. If Mr. Jobs had managed Apple based on surveys and stock exchange indicators, he wouldn’t have had the ability to understand that the digital generation would pay for the music that had comfortably been pirating for10 years, and, consequently, neither the ipod nor the itunes would exist. Instinct is what led him to know that if music stopped being good business, it would stop altogether, independent of any evidence on the contrary.

I’m not at all underestimating the value of market research, as I believe that the insight we get from the consumer enables us to keep brands updated and relevant.

Validating our ideas before investing millions in spreading them around reveals the highest level of professionalism.

Figures should never interfere with our professional vision. We need to keep in mind that the consumer doesn’t understand innovation, that human beings are averse to change, that opinion is always manipulated and that in the world there are few leaders and many followers.

Let’s also keep in mind that demographic figures are just one portion of the information, and that the success of our brand depends on our ability to put ourselves in our audience shoes, understand their wishes and expectations and, what is more important, empathize with them.This valuable data is not typically based on a numeric sequence but is the result of a “sixth sense” we acquire through a different type of knowledge unrelated to measuring.

Brand builders look at numbers, learn from them and, at the end of the day… must follow their instinct. True gurus know that the stock exchange doesn’t always respond to logic, and are persistent enough to stay the course regardless of prevailing trends. Markets are not just demographic data, it is actually the psychographic data, in other words, our instinctive knowledge that enables us to reach the soul of consumers and convert them into our customers.

 

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September 24th, 2009 14 Comments Branding Blogging / Branding Education / Branding Marketing / Branding Questions / Branding Strategy / Professionalism

  1. Joshua

    The picture you have tagged for this post is so fun, it enlightens me!

    The post is great too!
    It would be interesting to take a deeper look at the process that starbucks went through or Mr. Jobs went through when launching their strategies. How much research was involved and how much instinct was involved in the run to success.

    September 25th, 2009 //
  2. Brian

    Interesting, very interesting!!

    September 27th, 2009 //
  3. BettyDrapper

    My first impression upon reading the article was good points, but i feel a good instinctual feeling proceeds from sound and thorough research. It is kind of an advertising-from-on-high theory that is being presented and it leaves kind of a disappointing taste in your mouth.
    I’d also like to think that consumers do understand innovation and the ipod and starbucks catch on and last because the consumer has the ability to recognize what is good – our generation is looking for transparency in advertising (copyright Robbie Vitrano) and I don’t think will do anything because a brand says so or claims so without following through and backing up with sound reserach insights.
    Sure consumers are wary of change, but if your (good) research is pointing to a no go on your great idea, maybe you should re-think, re-work and evolve your great idea.
    Starbucks succeeded by making the “third place” or whatever its called – that outside the office/home place for yuppies to converge and feel cool. The $4 cup of coffee is about the premium atmosphere and the brand value built from that that Seatle Starbucks guy hopefully saw from his market research of young urbanites. Or maybe he was just lucky… but if you have a client with money on the line, they are going to need more than gut feeling to back up your great idea.

    September 28th, 2009 //
  4. AGWA

    Starbucks – no… of course no one will pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee that is $1.00 anywhere else. But if you ask them, “Would you spend $3.00 for a cup of coffee, where you can personalize it to your taste and size, and sit in a comfy couch with free wifi, tons of reading material and a great crowd of people to meet”…. chances are you may have some people flip flop to Starbucks’s side.

    Same goes with Apple – maybe people say they won’t purchase because of high prices. But if you make an easy-to-use, CONVENIENT solution that can only be tested once the product is created, the cost-benefit analysis shifts to the other side.

    Thoughts?

    September 29th, 2009 //
  5. Elizabeth

    Right on the mark. Marketing has lost most of its creative aspect as companies recruit more and more quant jocks for roles. The hybrid of a quantitative mind and a real instinct for consumer wants and needs is rare, and companies no longer bother to seek it out. When they do find it, they don’t know what to do with it, so these unique people wind up feeling isolated and then leave. I wonder where all the hybrids go. My answer was starting my own company, I’m curious to know what happens to others like me.

    October 1st, 2009 //
  6. ftpmumbojumbo

    Hi Elizabeth, I’m sorry it took me a few weeks to get back. I was traveling and with limited internet access. I’ve seen many talented marketing professionals take their own paths to pursue their dreams. I hope you stay in the path of your entrepreneurial spirit. At the end of the road it will pay back, although the road might not be as easy as a steady salary. Keep listening to what other people think and say, but at the end of the day just follow your guts.

    October 18th, 2009 //
  7. ftpmumbojumbo

    Yes, Its not only about brands but about products and services that are capable of understanding needs and wants, and delivering solutions in a clever, ownable, unique way. All great successes in the corporate world where initiated by a REAL VALUE proposition for the market. And I believe no matter how saturated the market is, how weak the economy is, how global the world is, if a company finds something that is really worth buying, people will buy.

    October 18th, 2009 //
  8. ftpmumbojumbo

    Betty, my intention is not to dismiss research. Research is one of the pillars of good marketing. My intention is to add instinct to the data obtained via research. Let me give you an analogy. Many years ago my son, who was a toddler at the time, had all the symptoms of appendicitis, the lab results, as in any appendicitis where inconclusive, the surgeon was ready to go into the operation room. But his pediatrician, the only Doctor that new my sons psychographics, asked us to wait for a few hours. His guts told him that even though all signs indicated that a surgery was needed, something in the boy’s behavior made the diagnosis inconclusive. We keep our son in close watch for 24 hours and he recovered without surgery. It was a virus that commonly is misdiagnosed as appendicitis. The Doctor saved a 3 year old from an unnecessary surgery. Not by ignoring the data but by adding instinct to it and taking a calculated risk with the outmost responsibility.

    October 18th, 2009 //
  9. ftpmumbojumbo

    Thanks, many thanks!!

    October 18th, 2009 //
  10. ftpmumbojumbo

    Hi Again Josh. I was away traveling for 3 weeks and I am updating my post and replying to my readers and I see you all over. THANKS A LOT! Your participation encourages me to keep on writing.

    I am sure Apple conducts thorough research. Any structured company relies on research. In my note I am not trying to dismiss research as a valuable practice. I am trying to invite marketeers to add guts and instinct when making decisions based on data. Sort of understanding that in addition to the demographics you should always pay close attention to the psychographics. It is the combination that takes you one step beyond

    October 18th, 2009 //
  11. Stock Market

    Great site, I will be checking back for any new articles and linking back to you from my site.

    October 20th, 2009 //
  12. Brenda Arteaga

    I’m impressed!After reading your post I can tell you are chuffed about your writing. If only I had your writing ability. I look forward to more updates and will be returning.Cheers!

    April 2nd, 2010 //
  13. Magdalen Shape

    No matter how easy you make it for a reader to leave feedback, they still have to take some time to do it, and to show how much they care – what’s a few moments to respond to them and thank them for doing so?

    April 3rd, 2010 //
  14. ftpmumbojumbo

    I agree, I always do! Thanks Magdalen

    April 8th, 2010 //

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