The Mind of the Consumer Is Boss

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012, former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley will be inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. I had the privilege of having an all too brief conversation with him this past summer at the 2011 Shopper Insights in Action Conference after he delivered the keynote address. His message took me right back to my days at P&G and their unrelenting focus on understanding the consumer in all her facets (and his!) and meeting her needs better than anyone else. As Mr. Lafley said, “The consumer is boss and we must never forget this.”

A.G. also shared some great tips with the audience. So good in fact that one of the attendees I caught up with a few months later told me that she carries these tips in her organizer every day and hopes that one day her company will embrace the consumer in the same way.

Here’s a highlight of A.G. Lafley’s key messages:

  • Consumer understanding is a major source of competitive advantage.
  • We need some psychologists, anthropologists and social scientists on our teams to deepen our understanding of the consumer.
  • I hate focus groups so don’t tell me that this is what you did (to P&G teams presenting to him).
  • We need to be closer to the customer and we need to unlock her unarticulated and emotional needs for the product. Taking action comes from understanding unarticulated needs and not what they say. Building the brand is not just looking at net promoter or brand equity scores. It’s an experience and relationship. We need to be good at continuous innovation to stay a step or two ahead of her needs. We have to group things in the store in the way she thinks about them.

Later, when an audience member asked how you get to unarticulated needs, this is what A.G. had to say: “You need to have a child’s curiosity and get beyond the cold, hard facts. You need to probe on ‘what it means’. I’m a big fan of qualitative research.”

We Couldn’t Agree More

A.G. Lafley could be the perfect spokesperson for Brandtrust. We agree the voice of the customer is only the beginning of the conversation. You need to get into the mind of the customer, and then you forge a relationship by crafting an experience that meets her needs at every brand touchpoint she encounters.

Our team is full of psychologists, anthropologists and social scientists, which is why we can get into the mind of the customer to uncover her unarticulated needs and understand the underlying “what it means” that’s driving her behavior. Once we uncover the non-conscious, emotional mental models for our clients’ brand, products and categories, we help them understand how these models affect consumers’ behavior in any context, such as shopping various retail environments or in home use. We truly help our clients gain competitive advantage because we get to the deeper, emotional insights that are at the root of it all.

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