As marketers, it’s easy to lose touch with what consumers and customers actually experience with our brands. In the bubble of our marketing offices, writing strategy decks and brand architecture documents, we sometimes over-inflate the role our brands play in peoples’ lives.
I once interviewed for a job with a senior executive at Apple. He told me that every Saturday, he worked a secret two-hour shift at his local Apple store. He wouldn’t tell shoppers about his primary day job. On Saturdays, he was just one of many Apple employees helping shoppers buy products. He said it helped keep his main job in perspective.
I gave a talk last week to a global marketing team for a pharmaceutical company, and dug out a 10-year old photo from when I was helping launch the method brand in the UK. In the early days, I used to do some of our own in-store sampling myself (occasionally with help from my family). I found that it was free market research (and nothing gets people to stop more than having cute kids at the table with you), but more importantly, it helped me avoid the marketing ivory tower trap.
Nothing exposes marketing B.S. quicker than a conversation with an actual consumer. All the marketing babble justification that went into a packaging redesign, new product feature, or campaign language evaporates the moment a consumer doesn’t get it. It helps keep our brand egos in check.
Sometimes a box of croutons is just a box of croutons.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years.
“Inside the Mind of the Consumer” January 2014
“Brand Loyalty” December 2016
“How To Define Your Product” January 2003