Monday, November 26, 2007

WPP Shop Tries to Rewrite Research

So this image caused viewer anxiety. You had to do research to figure out crumpled cars bother people? If you're a parent I bet you don't like movies or shows depicting abused or hurt children either. That's what's wrong with research. It only reconfirms the things you already know! Rather than evaluate what consumers think about a brand, the WPP Group company's new market-research tool, Emotional Brand Connection (Kantar Group's Added Value unit) looks at how consumers think the brand will make them feel.

First problem with this approach: "when you ask consumers questions you do not get the voice of the consumer, you get the voice of the inquirer through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray."

Next, if you don't stimulate consumer minds to think beyond the realm of their current existance they will only reconfirm what you, and they, already know, which will leave your startegy and execution a day late and pound short.

Where was I with my Ford SUV? Where was I with my Ford Taurus? My Expedition? The answer to both is "with my family" "on the way to grandma's house" "over the rivers and through the woods" to the mall or to the grocery store we go. Does it really matter?

The picture's the same - and insight this is... not. It's like showing people pictures of bankers in flannel shirts and blue jeans versus starched white shirts and suits. Obviously the suits work at Wells Fargo while the flannel shirts work for Seattle's Washington Mutual. ConAgra's Swift-Eckrich smoked sausages had the same perception problems versus the flannel shod farmers at Kahn's/Hillshire Farm.

1 comment:

H. Martin Calle said...

Mark Weeks, EVP of Added Value wrote the following in response to my assessment in Advertising Age:

In response to Martin Calle's comment, perhaps this brief article didn't make it completely clear. Martin, you are absolutely correct, the situation described by people exposed to the ad may be some mundane errand, and, as you say, this absolutely doesn't matter. When someone chooses to do something, they are envisaging an outcome in terms of the feelings they believe their choice will yield. After viewing the ad, perhaps the F150 presented itself as just another means of getting to "grandma's house". The insight comes from the feelings that person believes they will experience in their imagined scenario, not the nature of the scenario itself. These may be radically different to those anticipated by people making similar excursions, but who weren't exposed to the ad. This is where we measure the degree of pressure the ad is exerting on changing people's expectation of emotion from using the product. And it is their expectation of emotion that will ultimately determine whether or not they choose to buy it. As the article mentioned, when viewers contemplated the truck against a backdrop of the setting sun, the fMRI showed activity in the brain's region associated with exactly the same emotion people had reported experiencing in their imagined trip to, say, grandma's house. As you yourself illustrated, the cliché about the voice of the inquirer is immediately sidestepped by this technique. Consumers are totally free to imagine themselves going "over the rivers and through the woods" and whatever emotions they believe will come with that experience; there are no "rational" cues in the exercise to signal even the idea of a right or wrong answer. Mark Weeks, EVP, Added Value

In response, I said - I understand Mark. My problem here is the commodity nature of the outcomes. It serves for generating advertising fodder with the highest degree of confidence, yet fails to move the needle because the knowledge reconfirms the things we already know. This is why way more advertising is forgotten rather than remembered. The messages have been played before and before, just in different incantations by other marketers at other companies and agencies - which is why I'm the guy agencies least like looking over their shoulder in an account review. The greatest benefit here is educating a client who is willing to pay because they are busy learning all of this for the first time - which is why it takes them a lifetime to get their first career's worth of experience.

Martin Calle
Chief Marketing Officer
Calle & Company