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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