When we conduct customer research, we have a tendency to want to go into loads of detail, creating audience profiles and giving them all names and daily routines and behavioural habits and brands they engage with, etc, and that’s all really good stuff. It’s going to help your content marketing, or whatever activity you’re engaged in, be 5%, 10% better, than would otherwise be the case. However, if we want to do something truly transformative and have half a chance of leading our market in the months and years to come, then we need something more.
I want to illustrate this with an example from the gym market just because it’s one that I’m very close to. For years, the gym market operated a certain way, until one day, a smart cookie somewhere made the observation that the vast majority of their customers weren’t that bothered about the swimming pool, or the tanning salon, or the cafe. In fact all they really cared about was the gym kit. So they decided to strip out all those frills that accounted for 70-80% of the cost which meant that they were then able to reduce their costs by a similar proportion. Overnight the budget sector was born and within a couple of years the mid market had all but vanished. And it all came down to that one killer customer insight.
What i particularly love about that example is that it had nothing to do with technology and so often when we talk about disruption now we assume that it has to come from a place of technology and so often that isn’t the case. It just came down to one person understanding their audience better than anyone else and in hindsight it almost seemed obvious, but isn’t that so often the case.
Another example that I read just yesterday, is that this year the most successful pop name in terms of ticket sales was not Justin Bieber or Drake or Ed Sheeran, but a 1980’s British band called Depeche Mode. And therefore perhaps not surprisingly the most successful festivals this year weren’t the big names, but the specialist festivals targeting the over 35’s. So another key consumer insight with profound implications for the markets around it.
So yes. conduct lots of research and create detailed audience profiles, but ultimately, if you want to do something truly different and truly remarkable, then you need to find that one piece of killer customer insight.
See you next time!