When thinking about product and brand innovation– what seems to elude many executive leaders is a that people do not buy products, they buy into meanings.
Brand perceptions are much more often created by the product or service experience itself than from marketing communication. Marketing communication is much more effective in building brand awareness than it is in creating or changing brand perceptions. That is not to say that marketing communication cannot be used to help change perceptions, but it can’t do it alone and it can’t do it in the absence of real changes in the product or service experience. So, when a brand perception is negative and requires a change, that change is likely to include one or more of the following:
No doubt about it change is hard. Humans resist change until they absolutely have to. Like a bad habit, you won’t kick it until it threatens your very existence. So it is with changing a brand’s perception in the minds of customers.
We are happy to answer marketing questions of all types here on Branding Strategy Insider. Today’s question comes from Todd Longwell, a reporter for Variety Magazine in Los Angeles, California. He asks…
Focus groups have been the go-to method many marketers employ to gain insight on how certain people think, feel and behave. In our social media connected world, are focus groups an effective forum for driving creativity and innovation in brand development and marketing?
Henry Ford said “if I gave people what they said they wanted, I would have made a faster horse”. Mr. Ford instinctively knew then what still holds true about people today–people simply don’t know what they want, or what form an innovative idea should come in to solve a problem they don’t yet know they have. Nobody needed a car. Yet once realized, the automobile was arguably the most significant game changing product innovation of the last century.
A more contemporary version of this example is alive and well at Apple. Apple never conducts focus group research to guide their product innovations or drive their marketing. Innovation isn’t about giving people what they say they want. Asking people want they want or need is not a very useful tactic in driving new ideas for innovation. Yet, many marketers continue to rely on this artificial “laboratory” research to gain insights into what specific segments of people might be thinking about, what products they may use, and why they favor one thing over another. Rarely will focus group research shed any useful light on the deeper needs people have that are, as yet, unrealized in their minds. If we assume this to be true, why do focus group research at all?
“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they rely too much on research, like a drunkard uses a lamp post for support rather than illumination”.
– David Ogilvy