The many marketing departments of tomorrow

Before I get an inbox full of angry emails from everyone who doesn’t work in the marketing department, let me disclaim that the above diagram was intended somewhat humorously. Hey, it’s Friday — lighten up!

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Fucchon o

Fucchon o

 

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Mark Ingwer on How to apply the needs continuum in the marketplace

Guest author: Mark Ingwer, PhD, is a consumer psychologist and the managing partner of Insight Consulting Group, a global marketing and strategy consultancy specializing in market research and consumer insights. He has 25 years experience applying his blend of psychology, marketing, and industry acumen to helping companies optimize their brand and marketing strategy based on an in-depth understanding of their customers. He is the author of the book “Empathetic Marketing” published by Palgrave, May 2012.

In consumer business strategy –branding, advertising, public relations, or product development and design– understanding and addressing the emotional human needs continuum is not as simple as choosing a need and force-fitting it to your product and message. Businesses that seek to create superior products and experiences need to learn how to do a better job of empathizing with consumer needs.

Years ago, our firm conducted research at Universal Studios Florida and Walt Disney World, both in Orlando. At the time, Universal was searching for new ways to

distinguish itself from its giant competitor. We conducted consumer deep-dive research with 14 families with children of varying ages, selected to provide a diverse participant mix representing the typical park visitor population. We followed these families around the park observing their moods and behaviors, and discussed with them their thoughts and impressions as they experienced the parks. Essentially, we wanted to know what was really at play during a family vacation.

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We all take vacations to escape daily life or to reconnect with loved ones. To experience thrills different from everyday life. To provide children new experiences that they’ll take with them into adulthood. To leave our routines behind. Some people find it hard to detach from the world of work (smartphone addicts, raise your hands) but we tell ourselves, if only for a few days or weeks, we have to.

Vacations satisfy our need for pleasure, which is a commodity in a culture that refuses to slow down and smile every once in awhile. Just look at Americans’ attitudes toward downtime. Vacation days in America are miniscule compared to our European friends.

So what happens in these few weeks when we supposedly escape and let work pile up in our inbox? In the context of emotional needs, a destination theme park can mean a lot more to its patrons than they can readily articulate. It’s not about the fun theyexpe rience, but rather the function of the fun for the family’s growth and sustenance.

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One might think that the two parks are locked in a win-lose competition for Sunshine State vacationers and their children, but that’s not necessarily true.
 Many families, especially with children of different ages, go to both parks. At one time, however, the theme parks offered discernibly different atmospheres. One of our interview subjects put it best: “Disney is like sitting by a stream. Universal is like going rock climbing.

Both are enjoyable, both are nature, but with one, you’ve got more of that nervous adrenaline rush. Our researchers and I spent days observing how this participant’s analogy was on the money. The polarity of experiences is perhaps why some vacationers visit both parks.

Who doesn’t enjoy a little relaxation mixed in with action on their vacations? At the time, Universal and Disney mirrored the needs continuum. However, this has changed. They aren’t merely high-end amusement resorts that offer different sets of thrills for families. They’re helping families satisfy polar psychological needs for their children.

Remember, young people, from toddlers to teens, have conflicting sentiments, with a desire for the security of connectedness pulling them in one direction and a desire for the adventure of independence pulling in another. At the time of our research, the Walt Disney World experience appealed to their desires for security, safety, and closeness.

It is a child’s and a family’s rite of passage. It has always offered an undeniably fantastic experience that feeds children’s imaginations. But generally speaking, its essence nurtures a younger child’s connection in a safe and fantastic world. Disney is the quintessential “mother” archetype.

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We found that Universal Studios, on the other hand, appealed to older children and their families’ desire to explore, to be curious, and to interact with the world around them, through which they gain a sense of mastery and accomplishment. By developing and solidifying this sense of autonomy, children develop self-esteem and understanding of personal agency. Universal Studios was perceived as edgier and more adventurous—generally more stimulating and intellectually challenging. No longer was Universal just the more exciting cousin of Disney. Instead, it was an amusementpark that satisfied its visitors’ needs for individuality and independence in ways Disney wasn’t designed to do.
Recognizing this fundamental difference between itself and Disney, Universal changedits marketing efforts from promoting what it wanted consumers to experience to a testimonial to what the experience was already providing. No longer focusing on their longstanding marketing platform – “ride the movies”– they built a new strategy –“Experience an extraordinary escape at Universal. Slowly and steadily, Universal made gains in gate entries. Of course, this dynamic has changed in recent years. The Disney of decades past is not the Disney we find today. Their parks are now much more “Universal” in their feel, entertainment offerings, rides, and attractions. That said, the dynamic illustrates the profound opportunities that arise when a needs-based approach is applied to existing business models.The process, however, is not simply one of a business matching its product to a customer’s psychological needs. A single product category can potentially satisfy different emotional needs for different people. To harness the value of human needs, one must understand where people are located in their life cycle. Some emotional needs are more relevant at different ages and milestones, and for different genders and personality types.

Take cell phones. Beyond placing calls, sending texts, and checking emails, what is the emotional value of the twenty-first century’s most pervasive device? A cell phone can simultaneously satisfy a person’s need for control, security, connection,growth, and expression. To be sure, the device can’t do all things for all people, and cell-phone providers would be mistaken to try to persuade people otherwise. A company’s promoting access to 100,000 apps will appeal to the individual addicted to customization and control, while alienating an older audience intimidated by the concept of a smartphone.

For many segments of the population (nontexters and Tweeters), a phone is still primarily used to talk to people! Parents like the peace of mind that comes from always being connected to their children, but the child may just be after the status or unlimited contact with his or her tightest social circles. These issues raise important questions and challenges for marketers, who must decide where and to whom to direct their resources, what needs are most relevant for a specific segment and audience, and importantly, what communication tone and style work best to appeal to and satisfy a need.

It’s important to note that we see the push and pull between connectedness and individuality at each point on the continuum. In other words, not one of the needs is owned entirely by the individuality or the connectedness side of the continuum.

For instance, consider the need for belonging, essentially connectedness within acommunity. So much of our daily routine consists of participating in groups. We join groups for closeness, and sometimes, just to “fit in.” To a great extent, though, the need for belonging is not wholly consumed by the connectedness space. What we belong to is a stamp on our individual identity.

Consider how we routinely categorize informal acquaintances. It’s not Dave, the guy with a unique perspective on financial markets, but rather it’s Dave, the guy from Rutgers, the big Mets fan, the one who volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Certainly,we are not the church, synagogue, or mosque to which we belong. We are not the political party we vote for (and on behalf of which we argue with friends and family). We are not the company we work for. Or the brand of shoes we wear and the grocery store we frequent. But each group we ”belong” to is a distinct piece of our identity.

The Needs Continuum can only be put into action when matched with a psychological perspective that helps businesses identify their consumers’ unmet needs. With the right focus, meeting unmet emotional needs can be much more than a token statement issued in press releases.

This is a modified excerpt from “Empathetic Marketing, How to Satisfy the 6 Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers.” 

Photocredits:  thevaultofbeauty, cookahashi.co, a phil-opon

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It’s Largely Unconscious- Understanding the Business-Customer Disconnect

Another fine post by Mark Ingwer, PhD, is a consumer psychologist and the managing partner of Insight Consulting Group, a global marketing and strategy consultancy specializing in market research and consumer insights. He has 25 years experience applying his blend of psychology, marketing, and industry acumen to helping companies optimize their brand and marketing strategy based on an in-depth understanding of their customers. He is the author of the book “Empathetic Marketing” published by Palgrave, May 2012.

Like the countless actions (walking, breathing, seeing, hearing, etc.) we complete each day without consciously thinking about it, the motivations and emotions that drive our personal quest for satisfaction and identity fulfillment are mostly hidden from our rational thought processes. Similarly, unaware of how marketplace symbols —brands, products, services, communications— inform our sense of identity and bond us to our favorite brands. But marketers need to understand the role of the unconscious in decision making if they hope to build brand loyalty.

The role of the unconscious presents an important opportunity for business. But to truly understand why people do what they do, one must look at the

Monika Penkutė

Monika Penkutė

psychodynamic context surrounding decision-making. In the marketplace, consumers often project rationality onto brands to reduce potential cognitive dissonance (buyer’s remorse). But initial satisfaction with a purchase is a poor indicator of whether their affections will endure.

Fostering Brand Relationships

Many companies talk about the need to establish lasting customer “relationships.” And, where else but in interpersonal relationships do we bump up against our emotional needs? As in all interpersonal relationships –friendships, marriage, company and client– trust lays the foundation for growth and development.

By identifying the emotion-based needs of their audiences, businesses can discover insights that transcend standard marketing practices. Let’s see how marketers can uncover the logical explanations of consumer behavior associated with brand loyalty or disconnection.

The decision making process is driven by a mix of conscious, logical, and subconscious, emotional, needs. When faced with too many choices, people often gravitate toward products or services that “feel” right. And, in such a crowded marketplace, emotional drivers trump rational consideration.

Businesses are adept at addressing the rational, logical aspects of the customer’s decision-making process, but are largely ignorant of the emotional element. Many ignore the core human needs that deeply influence customer decisions only to find themselves baffled by their failure to retain customers.

Marketers often talk about customer relationships, but make little attempt to understand their evolving emotional needs, dooming the very relationships they hope to foster. Marketing strategies often depersonalize people —customers are targets, buyers, early adopters, eyeballs— further undermining their attempts to address the emotional needs that drive their purchase decisions.

Beware Customer Satisfaction Scores

Brands can also be misled by customer satisfaction measures that fail to take into account whether customers’ emotional needs have been met. As a result, while customers may verbally express satisfaction with a product or service, subconsciously, they may have no desire to repeat the experience, deciding instead to try another product or brand.

Businesses need to balance quantifiable marketing, but then must take a further step to understand the meaningful, intimate insights into the true drivers of behavior. Businesses need to understand “why.” They must not only ask, “What will this product do for the customer?” but also “What will this product do for the customer’s emotional self and identity?”

ETAT arkitekter

ETAT arkitekter

While business must address the emotional needs of customers, it must also at the same time respond to their rational needs. If a business focuses only on the rational drivers, it will make mistakes. If it focuses only on emotions, and fails to fulfill rational needs, it will fail to win the loyalty of customers. Only by balancing the appeals to both the emotional and the rational mind, will marketers succeed in building lasting, profitable, relationships.

Understanding the emotional needs that influence and guide customer actions and behaviors begins with EMPATHY on the part of a business —a concerted effort to understand the emotional motivations and needs of customers, and to align the business’s approach to customers and prospects with those needs.

When business truly views consumers through the lens of relationship dynamics, they will understand that, whether we are working, shopping, or engaging with friends and family, our foundational psychological needs are a constant driving force. Understanding and putting this into practice (strategically and executionally) will eliminate the two-way mirror (or more commonly, the brick wall) between daily life experiences and the ways businesses traditionally communicate with their customers.

Related articles

Mark is author of “Empathetic Marketing, How to Satisfy the Six Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012).

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Mark Ingwer on High Time for Empathetic Marketing

Let’s say that service design starts with empathy.  Mark Ingwer shares his insights, based on his 2012 book.  Enjoy!

Guest author: Mark Ingwer, PhD, is a consumer psychologist and the managing partner of Insight Consulting Group, a global marketing and strategy consultancy specializing in market research and consumer insights. He has 25 years experience applying his blend of psychology, marketing, and industry acumen to helping companies optimize their brand and marketing strategy based on an in-depth understanding of their customers. He is the author of the book “Empathetic Marketing” published by Palgrave, May 2012.

For nearly two decades, the business world has increasingly embraced the value of emotion in selling products. Countless books and articles describe how emotion factors into decision- making and bonds people with brands, products, services, advertising and people. Increasingly, business leaders, marketers and advertisers have come to see the value of appealing to consumers’ heartstrings. There is now little doubt that emotions offer buried treasure for businesses. Emotions can be powerful economic tools if understood, but without the benefit of a proven psychological theory to tell us where, when and how to extract emotional insights, opportunities are lost. The word “emotion” is derived from the Latin movere — “to move” — suggesting that emotions literally take us to another place.

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Businesses try “to move” customers, but it’s crucial to ask: where to? The logical answer is: “to the sale.” But that’s the short view, which misses the deeper role emotion plays in the marketing mix. Google, a company with a brilliant understanding of the needs of customers, launched its social media answer to Twitter and FacebookGoogle Buzz — in February 2010. There was no doubt that people were willing to share posts, pictures and information with friends over the Internet, but Google vastly underestimated consumers’ privacy concerns. The launch of Buzz immediately led to an angry outcry when it became clear that Buzz made all users’ email contacts public and made connections to other Google services, such as Picasa, automatically. A class-action suit followed, resulting in an $8.5 million settlement. Despite addressing the privacy issues, Buzz never caught the imagination of consumers, and in October 2011, Google discontinued the service. I contend that our individual well-being – self-esteem, success, relationships and happiness – is a result of meeting emotional needs. An individual’s needs are satisfied when he or she is connected meaningfully to others and comes to find his or her identity through those connections. Needs are at the root of our triumphs and setbacks, and they affect many consumer A Framework for Understanding Emotional Needs Businesses need to develop a conceptual framework for understanding emotional needs and a passion for meeting them every step of the consumer journey. For example, Facebook succeeds because it satisfies a yearning for connectivity to a group and a need to celebrate one’s individuality through self-expression. Most businesses leaders claim that they care about consumers’ needs but don’t understand how these needs dovetail with their business goals. Yet, it is possible to develop a framework to help businesses comprehend the science of emotional needs and incorporate this perspective into their strategy. But first, business leaders must acquire a more humanistic perspective rooted in the experience of people’s behavior. As a consumer, a clinical psychologist, market researcher and marketing consultant, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing thousands of consumers and business professionals. These interviews often take place in front of a two-way mirror with clients observing. At the end of the session, clients state what they heard in the discussion. Frequently, I have a different interpretation. When I report this, the client sometimes counters with “That’s not what they said.”

Listening With the Third Ear

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esszeto

I listen with what psychologists call “the third ear,” a trained lens that helps me see beyond what people say and toward a deeper empathic understanding of their emotional needs — the hidden meaning behind their conscious thoughts. What I do is akin to the finely honed listening skills top executives use to navigate corporate politics or manage tense situations. But, as a business psychologist, I specialize in understanding a diverse, complex group of people – customers. Despite business’ growing embrace of emotion, this awareness is often the first thing shut out of their professional mindsets. Too often, we build a firewall that helps us rely on logic and reasoning to solve business problems. We stick to what is perceived to be the safest method of meeting business challenges. The sciences, including psychology, are not immune either; they attempt to create a fact-based, quantified approach that tends to sanitize people, so we forget about the humanity of consumers and filter out the raw emotion underlying the needs.

Solving business problems and generating insights is more about connecting the dots.

Oftentimes, the answer is found when we widen the scope. We can learn about consumerneed by peering inside the dynamics of human relationships. We can learn by observing the psychological underpinnings of how and why people use products and services. We can learn by listening to others through an empathic understanding of their emotional lives. In short, understanding how human needs manifests in the marketplace requires businesses to learn from disciplines that have often been overlooked in boardrooms. Drawing from sociology,ethnography, psychology, neurological, behavioral and clinical studies, blended with traditional consumer insights, marketers can make an emotional needs-based paradigm shift in perspective.

This new perspective will result in better ways to listen to, talk to, observe and understand people’s life stages. It’s time that marketers step away from their spreadsheets and enter familykitchens, local bars and doctor’s offices to gain a deeper understanding of human needs.

This is a modified excerpt from “Empathetic Marketing, How to Satisfy the 6 Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers.”