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Consumer Understanding, Emography

Consumer Understanding, Emography
09 April 2024
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Consumer Understanding, Emography

Elevating go-to-market strategy demands a profound understanding of the market and a keen awareness of the diverse consumer base, enabling precise timing and methods of engagement. The current speed of cultural change is unparalleled, driven by economic, political, and social upheavals, while human behavior is significantly influenced by a burgeoning online presence. Today's consumers are exceptionally varied and skeptical, setting higher standards for marketers and necessitating greater intricacy and sophistication in our approaches.

Until now, marketers have depended on two-dimensional methods to shape their strategies, constructing personas around factors like gender, income, location, education, interests, and preferences. We make significant decisions based on demographic and psychographic information that forms our understanding of our customer base. However, this approach is no longer sufficient. Achieving business expansion through savvy marketing demands far more extensive and three-dimensional consumer insights.

A fresh approach to segmentation

Though marketers have long strived to foster emotional bonds between brands and consumers, the insights informing market strategy frequently lean towards the rational rather than the emotional. Conventional market research methods, such as focus groups and surveys, reveal actions taken by individuals, subsequently translating these behaviors into post-hoc rationalizations.

As business psychologists, marketers should now inquire about the "why" behind consumer behavior. Delving into the unexplored realm of subconscious emotional motivators that influence human belief systems represents the next frontier in consumer insights. Marketers require this depth of analysis to unlock marketing strategies that are more resonant, high-performing, and superior.

Emography involves segmenting consumers according to their subconscious emotional profiles. By employing sophisticated behavioral and neuroscientific studies, we gain insight into the depths of the human subconscious, offering a more nuanced understanding of individuals. Emography supplements traditional demographic and psychographic approaches, enriching our comprehension of consumers. Together, these three dimensions create a comprehensive, multidimensional view essential for crafting personalized and targeted marketing strategies.

Implementing emography

Emography has the potential to drive effective marketing efforts across various industries or sectors. In reality, some brands are already adopting an emographic approach, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

Take Domino’s as an example. The company recognized the "pizza anxiety" experienced by its customers while awaiting orders and devised the popular pizza tracker. This feature provides real-time updates on the status of a pizza order, offering customers the reassurance they seek during the waiting period. Initially, consumer behavior manifested as frequent calls to inquire about delivery times and pizza status, driven by underlying anxiety and a need for control. By grasping the root of these calls, Domino’s effectively developed a solution that not only engages consumers but also addresses their concerns. Additionally, this innovation enhances operational efficiency by reducing the number of calls to its stores.

Noom, the health app aimed at fostering better eating habits, acknowledges the emotional underpinnings of decision-making. Unlike other dieting tools that impose rigid routines leading to high dropout rates, Noom employs emography to delve into the fundamental, sometimes uncomfortable, emotional drivers behind unhealthy eating behaviors, such as shame and isolation. Using this insight, Noom avoids complete food restrictions, instead categorizing items based on caloric density and crafting a personalized approach that fosters a positive relationship with food. This innovative approach to dieting has garnered strong brand loyalty—Noom boasts over 50 million users and continues to refine its practices based on emographic principles and an understanding of habit formation.

The emography toolbox

Several neuroscience-supported research methodologies contribute to the development of emographic consumer insights. One such technique is the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, which can be either quantitative or qualitative. In this approach, participants select or draw a picture representing subconscious emotions. Since there is often a disparity between conscious thoughts and underlying feelings, employing metaphor elicitation methods allows marketing insight teams to uncover consumer reactions and responses. From these findings, they can extrapolate emotions such as aspirations, fears, anxieties, excitement, and insecurities that lie beneath the surface, thereby refining consumer personas with greater sophistication.

Another behavioral science technique is Implicit Association Testing (IAT), a quantitative method assessing the subconscious link between two concepts. For instance, it measures the strength of association between the color green and the word "go," versus its association with "stop." This method proves valuable in gauging the connection between brands and elements of brand identity. It particularly excels in evaluating brand alignment at the subconscious level.

Delving into the consumer's "emotional mindset"

In the world of modern marketing, our goal is to comprehend not just the mindset but also the heartset of our consumers. To thrive as marketers in the future, it's imperative to grasp the underlying emotions and beliefs individuals harbor about their identities and aspirations.

Heartset, representing the aspirations stemming from an individual's subconscious emotional framework, heavily influences consumer purchasing behavior. This is particularly evident in the luxury sector, where aspirational buyers may acquire products as a response to underlying insecurities, seeking symbols of belonging and accomplishment associated with high-end goods. Similarly, in real estate, consumers often base housing decisions on their heartset, envisioning idealized family scenarios such as children playing in a backyard or gathering for meals around a perfect kitchen table. The strength of the heartset can often override the influence of the mindset, prompting consumers to prioritize emotional fulfillment over rational, financial, or practical considerations. Practically speaking, marketing that resonates with the heart proves more potent than appeals to the mind.

Employing emography in branding represents a crucial approach to harnessing heartset, as consumers are drawn to brands that mirror their desired self-perception and social image. Creative strategies grounded in emographic insights carry greater impact, resonance, and emotional connection with consumers, thus fostering enhanced engagement and outcomes. Furthermore, comprehending heartset can refine marketing funnels and metrics, providing context for nurturing cycles and guiding performance marketing strategies. Even product value propositions stand to gain, enabling product marketers to develop solutions that address unfulfilled emotional requirements.

Tapping into human behavior constitutes a foundational aspect of marketing, and to excel in this endeavor, marketers must delve into people's deepest subconscious realms. Brands poised to succeed with the upcoming generation of consumers are those that adopt a comprehensive, three-dimensional perspective of their audience-comprehending their identities, actions, and underlying motivations. Embracing emography as the cutting-edge frontier of consumer insights is a strategy to safeguard your business, ensuring its relevance both now and in the future.

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