MORI Chairman Professor Sir Robert Worcester looks into human psychology,and tells how objectively conducted research, understood thoroughly and applied systematically, can unlock the secrets of the consumers' minds.
Nobody really cares about what you do, what you say, what you think — about your product, your brand, your company — unless you show them how it affects them, their life, their family, their health, their appearance, their wealth, their happiness. Too many advertisers forget how selfish we all are. We won't bother to become even aware of a product, or service, or brand, or company, unless it is made clear how that product or service can help to make us feel prettier, or richer, or more contented with our life.
I have a four-stage model of good corporate communications that many advertisers and agencies forget when planning and executing campaigns. In every morning's newspaper, and on every evening's television, there are advertisements which will fail, or not be as effective as they might, because they forget one or more of the four stages, which are:
- Awareness (here's who we are)
- Involvement (here's what we can do for you)
- Persuasion (here's what we think)
- Action (here's what we want you to do)
Economic growth means consumers in Europe have not only been able to afford to buy far more goods and services, but they have been able to be far more discerning about what they buy. The EU has meant far greater choice is available from the supply side, and the new media has meant new and different ways of telling consumers what is available, but social and cultural changes have had a major impact over and above the greater prosperity.
- We are now far better educated and therefore many more people are able to be critical and discerning.
- We are far better informed — there is more information available via the print and broadcast media, advertising, word of mouth, education and the internet.
- We are far more individualistic in our outlook, far less deferential and much more tolerant of alternative lifestyles and values than only a few years ago.
- We are re-defining what we expect of our institutions — privatisation is not just a desire to cut back the role of the State, but an acknowledgement that many services are better and more efficiently run by companies led by private rather than public sector values.
- Companies are now expected to behave in a more socially responsible way meaning that they have to shoulder the broader social responsibilities once deemed to lie with the State.
- Environmentalism, which used to be a marginal preoccupation of pressure groups, has become far more mainstream and evolved into a much broader notion of social responsibility and sustainability covering social and economic as well as environmental issues, and of vital importance to companies seeking a licence to operate in the global community.
These changes have all sorts of implications for how we should be researching consumer attitudes across Europe. The picture is arguably far more complex and subtle than it was before. Usage and attitude studies, brand tracking, concept testing and ad recall are all fine, in their place, but their place is increasingly limited in post-material societies. Because consumers are more individualistic in their outlook today, they are also inclined to be far less brand loyal. As people take on more complex and individualistic roles then successful brands will need to appeal to these wider roles.
Sir Robert Worcester is Chairman of MORI and is Visiting Professor of Marketing at Strathclyde.