More than ever, brands need to connect with their buyers on an emotional level. In fact, consumers say that the way they feel is 1.5 times more likely to influence their buying decision than anything else, according to a study by Forrester commissioned by FocusVision. Everyone in the industry talks about the “voice of the customer.” But that’s just not enough. The most powerful element that can be used by any business is authentically understanding, engaging and connecting with their customers. Not just the voice of the customers through a set of data points, but their minds, their true perspectives completely. Why they do what they do. How they think, feel, act—the customer truth. Because, if all purchase decisions were rational, consumers would always buy at the lowest price.
Customer truth is about understanding the heart and the mind of your customer—it connects your story with your customer’s story. This is achieved only by looking through multiple lenses that give you a holistic view of your audience and the motives behind their behaviors. This digital world has given brands myriad data points, but those methods do not measure the metrics that matter: customer truth. The biggest and best brands are getting back to basics with a research strategy that brings richness, texture and depth of understanding to the most critical component of data: people.
The truth about cosmetics
In Latin America, the cosmetics industry is quite dynamic, with several established brands competing within regional markets and new ones continually entering the fold. As such, maintaining a current understanding of how, when and why consumers use beauty products is critical to the cosmetic industry, requiring a sophisticated approach to market research.
Avon surveyed women in Latin America to discover the type and number of products in their personal beauty bag, brands used and overall brand perceptions. The survey revealed how many lipsticks or eyeshadow products each respondent had, but Avon didn’t understand the why—the emotional drivers.
“It was crucial for us to walk in consumers’ shoes in order to truly understand their relationship with makeup and collect meaningful qualitative data in friendly and inspiring ways. We were able to capture very useful consumer insights, materials and perspectives, which informed multiple discussions and decisions within the Avon organization,” says Paola Toscano, senior insights and marketing intelligence manager at Avon.
Using a mobile diary of their makeup activities for one week, Avon was able to see through resultant uploads and video testimonials how the women applied makeup, how they mixed and matched various products, and the feelings experienced during and after makeup application. In the words of one user: “I need makeup to feel alive. It’s an essential part of my day-to-day.” Understanding the truth behind the women’s connection with their makeup enabled Avon to connect their brand story to their customer’s story.
The truth about snacks
Fresh Intelligence, a North American market research firm, conducted a study to understand the emotional motivation when buying snacks.
The study revealed the truth behind consumer snack behavior. It all begins at home, where most snacks fall into two categories: healthy and unhealthy. Consumers eat healthy snacks like fruits, nuts or nutrition bars as part of their daily routine or to “kill” cravings for unhealthy snacks. Unhealthy snacks, such as potato chips or chocolate bars, are used as comfort food, an occasional treat or to satisfy a craving.
The study also revealed that at the store, a consumer is either “hunting” (i.e., looking for a specific snack and going directly to a specific aisle to purchase it) or “browsing” (i.e., looking up and down many aisles in the store). Browsing often takes the form of “controlled browsing,” where the consumer looks up and down all the aisles but steers away from chip or cookie sections to avoid temptation. This valuable information helps brands understand the emotions and motivation behind snack buying to increase shopping frequency, basket size and loyalty and in the end, to convert more shoppers into buyers.
The truth about families
Families have changed drastically during the past few decades, including changing demographics, family composition and millennials rising into the ranks of parenthood. What is not well understood is how these enormous changes will affect modern family consumer habits: How families choose brands and how those brands should connect with them.
“When we set out to do this study, we wanted to provide entire families with the tools to tell us how they think, feel and act in the moment,” George Carey, founder and CEO of The Family Room.
A survey combined with video interviews allowed the researchers and marketers to discover, understand and communicate new insights into the realities of contemporary families. For example, the study found that today’s families have evolved from a top-down hierarchy, where the mom is the gatekeeper of all decisions, to a more complex web of collaborative decision-making among family members. In fact, the study found that a whopping 54 percent of millennial parents consider their children as one of their best friends, making this familial group interact more like peers than parental authority.
This truth made it clear that millennial families are going to change the way marketers work. From a marketing and branding standpoint, target messaging should align with the family’s new decision-making dynamics, not just mothers.
Looking beyond the voice of the customer to understand their hearts and minds gives brands a more holistic understanding of what’s happening and why. Those who don’t understand what their customers think and feel will not be able to become part of their customer’s stories.