BrainTrust Query: A Holistic View of Consumers
One theme emerging from the Shopper Insights in Action 2011 event in Chicago last week was the necessity for viewing shoppers and consumers from a holistic perspective. Grant McCracken, author of Chief Customer Officer, suggested that we "dolly back" when researching the consumer or shopper.
"Dolly back" is a film term meaning that the camera pulls back to get a broader shot. Rather than just view the transaction, understanding the whole consumer would allow us to get to a cultural perspective from which we could predict trends. One speaker offered a quotation from A. G. Lafley, former CEO of P&G, "We have to consider the consumer as a whole person, not just the piece of them related to our product — e.g., not just the mouth for oral care."
Some companies have been learning about their shoppers and consumers as people with some surprising insights.
For example, Brian Lannan, Target’s group manager of guest insights, shared one surprise. Fashion forward 20-30 year-olds were asked to identify their primary fashion influence — they said their moms!
Mike Hogan, senior vice president and chief culture officer of Game Stop, found that a broad consumer group of 30+ men and women are an important segment for them, not just the younger men and boys.
Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer & shopper insights, Nielsen, reported that, in addition to increased food sales at Target and Walmart, cookbook sales are a growth category. Rajeev Sharma, CEO of Videomining, reported that store path research revealed that Hispanics not only buy different products, but that they shop differently. Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide: The New Science of Decision-Making, presented neuroscience research indicating that an understanding of how the brain works reveals opportunities for learning what a consumer feels.
The overall conclusion: developing strategy based only upon transaction attitude or attitudinal research is not sufficient for understanding how consumers shop and buy.
Discussion Questions: What are the advantages as well as the challenges of taking a holistic view of consumers and shoppers? What research methodologies are appropriate for generating a holistic view of consumers?