How can you develop a brand strategy that "completes" consumers? It starts with consumer insight. Unfortunately, "insight" is often equated with "observation." (For example: Consumers eat more healthfully at home than in restaurants.) Don't get me wrong. Studying behavior is crucial, but it's not enough to know what people do. You have to uncover why they do that .
A true insight explains the underlying psychological and often subconscious impulses that drive behavior. Unfortunately, this isn't something that a group of strangers in a focus group will reveal. They usually don't even recognize it themselves. And if they don't realize it, how could they tell you? These deeper psychological insights -- I've come to calling them "unspoken truths" -- can be distilled, or even interpreted, through the study of consumers' behavior, combined with in-depth interviews that let respondents be as comfortable, and therefore as unguarded, as possible. And while no two people are alike, you can begin to see consistent impulses that your brand can connect with -- or emotional gaps that your brand can help fill. But even if the right insight is uncovered, brand strategy will fail unless calibrated to consistently align with it. The most common mistake is overshooting the insight by having an inflated sense of where a brand fits in a person's life.
The next time you visit a Target store, take notice of how you feel, compared with when you're in a Walmart Stores. Visit a Starbucks and a Dunkin' Donuts. Drive a Chevy Malibu, then a Toyota Camry. Depending on who you are, one brand probably makes you feel more comfortable than the other. However, you might have difficulty explaining what part of your psyche is influencing that comfort or discomfort. The answers you'd give would likely be about rational attributes like environment, price or even features. But if we discussed other aspects of your life -- your career, family and even friends -- I could begin to get a deeper understanding of who you are and why some brands are attractive to you and others aren't. And, I could suggest other brands that would reinforce or reflect your self-image. So, stop worrying if consumers fall in love with your brand. Your brand will have them at "hello" when their subconscious simply says, "You complete me."