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Companies are drowning in ‘Big Data’. Why do they need deep insights research?

23rd August 2016 | Claire Brooks

Companies are drowning in ‘Big Data’. Why do they need deep insights research?

Companies are wrangling more customer data sources than ever before. Predictive analysis of exponentially large data sets, known as ‘Big Data’, offers up the holy grail of known marketing outcomes (though according to a Gartner report (Gartner, 2015) it’s still in the early stages of adoption). Why would immersive, qualitative deep insights research be a priority for a leading-edge corporation?

And yet, my consulting work with corporations of all sizes suggests that managers might be drowning in data but at the same time, lack the deep customer insights which inspire effective marketing action and innovation. Here’s why. Big Data can tell us quite a bit about who our consumers or customers are and some aspects of how they behave, and can help us model predictions about future behaviour. However, Big Data does not tell us why consumers or customers behave the way they do. Nor does it give us textured insight into the context of their behaviour: it does not tell us how.  Without understanding why and how we only have half the picture. 

Quantitative data alone cannot help us walk in the customer’s shoes. It cannot easily spark the personal and subjective hunches, insights and intuitions; the metaphors, stories and mental constructs which, academics (Nonaka, 2007) have shown, are key to successful innovation. The key to marketing success is for managers across the organization to develop deep understanding and insight - empathy - with consumers and customers within the broader context of their lives as a basis for marketing strategy formation and activation. This requires a systematic approach to deep insights and organization-wide empathy-based learning about customers and consumers.

My consulting practice, ModelPeople Inc., calls the activation of empathy-based organizational learning into marketing strategy and action, Strategic Empathy®. Anyone with involvement in marketing strategy formation and execution needs Strategic Empathy skills and practical know-how. In a fast-paced VUCA3 world, where marketing strategy is adapted dynamically by multiple ‘strategists’ at all levels, organizations must become ‘Learning Organizations’ and ensure that empathy with consumers and customers is institutionalized.

Marketing with Strategic Empathy is a practical guide to a systematic process of deep insights discovery and strategic activation, for superior marketing effectiveness. In this book, I share the processes and tools necessary to learn, activate, and communicate deep insights and approaches for marketing success. The book contains more than 50 case studies of global consumer brands from my consulting practice and theoretical frameworks from the fields of sociology, anthropology, biology, psychology, behavioural economics, and neuroscience.

At the core of the Strategic Empathy process is immersive and experiential learning, or “strategic learning,” leading to a deep understanding about the functional, emotional, and cultural drivers behind consumers' thoughts, feelings, and actions. In forward-looking organizations, strategic learning is supplementing, and even replacing, strategic planning as a basis for adaptive marketing strategy formation. Marketing with Strategic Empathy explains how to:

  • Design and implement strategic learning journeys
  • Apply specific immersive learning methods, including deep insights techniques to uncover unconscious emotions, ethnographic observation, online research, semiotic analysis, and trends analysis
  • Empower managers with team-based skills for activating learning
  • Develop specific story-telling skills for communicating strategic learning to stakeholders

Combining theory with practical applications and case studies, Marketing with Strategic Empathy provides the critical knowledge for nurturing deep insights, deep understanding and empathy with customers for superior, day-to-day marketing effectiveness.

References:

  1. Gartner IT Maturity Assessment Model, 2015.
  2. Nonaka, I (2007) The Knowledge Creating Company, Harvard Business Review, (July-August).
  3. VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity.

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