Marketers and brand designers should ditch focus groups and concentrate on implicit methodologies to better understand consumers’ behaviour and frame their way of thinking, according to BrandOpus CEO Nir Wegrzyn.
Speaking recently to B&T, Wegrzyn said there is no value in brands conducting focus groups with consumers.
“You’re better off taking all the money, putting it in a pile and lighting fire to it, because whatever the consumer says is irrelevant,” he said.
“They’ve activated their cognitive thinking and acting fantasies of thoughts, which are not the fantasies they have when they actually buy things.
“I’m not saying that you have to ignore the consumer – you just have to work out the things that really matter to them rather than the rubbish that they think they think.”
The most effective alternative, Wegrzyn believes, is the use of implicit methodologies – methodologies where you don’t ask people direct questions, but ask other questions through which you understand their behaviour and find out what really matters to them.
Wegrzyn also noted the importance of identifying consumers’ archetypal patterns in changing their behaviour.
“When we look at how people think, the rational part is tiny, and the non-rational circuitry is huge, and in it is all sorts of stuff flying about. We don’t know most of it, but it works by association,” he said.
“By introducing a pattern, you affect associations. If you want to affect people’s behaviour, you’ve got to affect their circuitry – not their thoughts.
“There are archetypal patterns alive in us all, so if you can echo them by creating images, you have the ability to frame the way in which we think.”
Wegrzyn said Starbucks is a classic example of brand that uses metaphor in its logo to effectively connect with its consumers.
“You would’ve seen the Starbucks logo numerous times in your life, but you have never once stopped and said to yourself ‘what the hell is it?’ No one really knows what the logo is – your best guess is that it is a woman, but that’s as far as it goes.
“She is a metaphor – a siren that tempts people to stop what they’re doing and come to them.
“The way it works is not cognitively. It echoes in the back of your mind – not in the front of your mind.”
Despite being cropped over time, the Starbucks logo has managed to keep the powerful siren metaphor alive.
Nike is another brand that has built its success on the use of metaphor, according to Wegrzyn, with the name symbolic of the Greek goddess of victory.
“The brand communicates that everyone can achieve and ‘Just do it’, but it’s underpinned by this idea of winning – that’s where the power comes from,” he said.
“Adidas will never win against Nike. The three stripes mean nothing.”