If you notice that I’ve been missing from the sidewalks of our village for a few days, the chances are good that I’m spending a bit of time over in Chicago, where I work sometimes with a research firm called Brandtrust.
One of the reasons I choose to do much of my work with Brandtrust is the firm’s focus on truly in-depth qualitative research techniques. Brandtrust specializes in uncovering rich details about consumers’ non-rational motivations, exploring the relationships of metaphor and meaning that transcend the commodification of products and services, to create psychologically evocative brands. This approach began long ago, with the publication of the book Emotional Branding, written by Daryl Travis, who is now the Brandtrust CEO.
Appropriate for the field of market research, the title of a new book by Travis is a question: How Does It Make You Feel? It seems like an obvious question, but it reflects a type of inquiry that most market researchers these days don’t know how to deal with effectively. Too many market research firms have become more comfortable sucking up vast numbers of abstracted data points from consumers’ lives, than with delving into the matter of how consumers feel about the commercial relationships in their lives.
In the context of big promises about Big Data modeling of consumer behavior, Daryl Travis provides us with an important reminder that consumers don’t make their decisions about where to shop and what to buy on the basis of a cold analysis of the data available to them. Abstract economic theories may predict rational behavior in the marketplace, but behavioral economists have proven time and again that even the most simple decisions are suffused with irrationalities.
How Does It Make You Feel explains how the emotional motivations behind consumer behavior aren’t simply errors in calculation. They’re the engines that keep the economy going, and marketers who ignore them will lose the battle of the brands, no matter how big their banks of data become.
This book gives us a much-needed reminder of the importance of in-depth qualitative methodologies in market research. Travis confronts the mismatch between individual shopping behaviors and the groupthink that dominates focus groups. He argues in favor of a sophisticated, yet deeply human, approach that, unlike the quick surveys that feed the growth of database models, never accepts consumers’ explanations for their behavior at face value.
The work that Daryl Travis does with Brandtrust to uncover patterns of emotional motivation for consumer behavior creates a strong foundation for ritual analysis. Ritual structure, after all, is designed to create and then channel emotional responses in order to create concrete behavioral transformation. Ritual marketing takes motivations of the sort that Travis writes about, and makes them actionable through a detailed process of symbolic behavior that’s embedded in a social context, making transformation of identity sustainable, and fostering a genuine sense of trust in brands, rather than a simple force of habit.
How Does It Make You Feel: ISBN 0989710327