“I’d Eat That” - On Consumer Research in A New Era

In the Fuse 2012 executive summary by Renée Whitworth of Flood Creative identified one of the main conference trends as the following:


"Stop focusing on consumer behavior/traditional research only and start watching other patterns and behaviors."
Throughout the event we saw design taking inspiration from geometric patterns found in nature or from cities and we were urged to look to history as well as current trends online (for example, on YouTube) for inspiration in branding. Debbie Millman as our conference chair gave us her list of insights for how CEOs can help themselves break bad habits and included the notion that traditional research was not the “holy grail.”

My custom chip flavor from the app
on the Lay's Facebook Page
It seems many brands are already taking this spirit to heart. This interesting article in the New York Times technology section proclaims "Social Media Are Giving a Voice to Taste Buds."

The article notes that companies from Frito-Lay to Sam Adams to Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics are looking for consumer insights on social media. Some, such as Frito-Lay are quite literally turning their Facebook page into the modern day focus group, asking consumers to "click an “I’d Eat That” button" in support of new flavors. Others, such as Wal-Mart, are using social media listening - automated monitoring of public Facebook and Twitter posts and search terms - to identify sentiment and buzz around products.

So where will your next brand inspiration come from? Facebook? YouTube? Pinterest? Are you using social media for these purposes, either via data mining or actual interactive social media research?

Steve Jobs famously disliked focus group based research, claiming "It isn’t the consumer’s job to know what they want" and we all know the famous Ford quote about "faster horses" - but despite these examples, listening to our customers is important, perhaps more important then ever given the myriad ways they have to speak to us. Where will you be listening?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com

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