It May Have Killed the Cat, but Your Lack of Curiosity is Killing Your Brand
Look up any recent consumer trend report and it will tell you a number of alarming (and overwhelming) things about shifts in consumer behaviour, especially Gen Y. Real-time information flow is increasing, mobile-only internet consumption is on the rise and video is the future of everything until mainstream adoption of AR/VR. There is no shortage of overwhelming and confusing information telling us that consumer behaviour is shifting more rapidly than ever before. Driving this shift are advances in technology, ecommerce, social media and democratisation of content. The silos are broken down like never before and consumers have more power than ever. So how do you cut through the noise and see the forest for the trees?
You need to build a curiosity strategy. A curiosity strategy is constantly gathering insights and information on your specific audience. I can already hear the smug responses to this like “duh, we are already on top of this” but are you really? The fact is that the more a brand matures and the more you settle into your role, the more bloated and complacent you get. Some people have become so arrogant that even reading an article is beneath them because they are such an expert in their field. I have always tried to subscribe to the ‘stay stupid, stay humble’ mantra and this is what a curiosity strategy is all about. A curiosity strategy is a holistic approach to market intelligence, accepting that what you think you know may not be so.
A holistic approach means being open target market intelligence and insight wherever it may be presented. Instead of being choked up in a silo of already knowing enough or a narrow perspective on where data has to come from, you keep an open curious mind. Not only are there far too many brands not curious enough to dive into the data, there are many that collect plenty and do nothing with it. Why is it that we put so much stock into almighty data yet so often fail to activate it?
I believe one of the root causes is fear. Agencies and brands are often fearful of taking a more curious approach to the audience because they are afraid of what they will hear. Due to the rapidly shifting landscape, the feedback could be that your existing approach simply isn’t the right one and you don’t want to hear an inconvenient truth. Change is so cumbersome after all. This is a cowardly approach and obvious disservice to your consumer. Knowledge is power. With the attention marketing era we are caught up in, I understand that platform fear is rife. Organisations have an aversion to hearing what that they already know is true, that their audience has moved to another platform and they need to be there too. It sucks to hear that the consumer needs the once served your brand well are not the same anymore. I get it, this is scary and you don’t want to add more to your already full plate.
To me there are three kinds of curiosity intelligence sources:
Internal - Sources inside your organisation from your own brand execution or personal knowledge. I myself am a member of my millennial consumer audience but fortunately I’m not arrogant or complacent (not yet at least) enough to let that be the end of the story for my own insight.
Third party - Experts who understand your target audience or specific audience segment well. Having the humility to accept that other organisations may have insights and information on your consumer can prove highly valuable.
Direct from the source - Bit of a no-brainer here that paying attention to your consumer outside of the silos and adopting a curious approach to unbiased consumer behaviour could provide some critical insights. Still not enough brands do this effectively.
I will finish the curiosity strategy with the phrase ‘stay stupid’. Constantly challenge what you know. Attempt to know everything about your audience while simultaneously holding the position that you know nothing about them. The counter-intuitive value of uncertainty is where real opportunity is. Uncertainty breeds the healthy habit of curiosity. Once something becomes habit, it becomes automatic routine. When gaining insights through 3rd party material like this or any other source, ask yourself the critical question of “what did we learn from this and how is our behaviour going to change?”.
Brands often have just enough curiosity to make tiny shifts while remaining complacent. That complacency and fear breeds excuses like “in a few months the insights will be saying something different so what’s the point?”. The point is that the this is the way of the world now. If you don’t follow the rapidly shifting tides you will eventually end up marooned and isolated from your consumer. Your competitors that had the curiosity and foresight to adapt to changing circumstances will reap all the reward.
Get in touch if you would like to consult with us on your audience.