Don’t you love the one word answers you get from teenagers when you ask them how their day at school was today. I’ve learned with my daughter that it’s far more productive to wait until we have our quiet times together cooking, knitting, walking the dog, and let her raise issues that she wants to talk about.
It struck me moderating a group discussion recently that it’s exactly the same with participants. Sure they may have more to say when I ask them a direct question than the average teen, but the real gems come when they are given the space and time to raise issues they have on their minds.
By spending time establishing rapport, giving participants the confidence to speak about issues that are top of mind and allowing the conversation to flow rather than moving on to the next scheduled task on the discussion guide, it is possible to uncover a whole host of issues that would have been buried by asking a rational question like ‘what’s important to you’.
And it’s the same in our online communities, we learn most about consumers real behaviour when we set the scene for open, free flowing conversations and can then more accurately project their future behaviour.
Take a look at this light-hearted take on the typical teenager and while you do, think about how much goes on in the life of a teenager beyond their monosyllabic replies and how we, as researchers, can access their reality.
“Can you pass me my iPhone?” a friend recently asked me when we were out together.
What is noteworthy about this sentence is that she referred to her mobile by brand – have you ever heard anyone say ‘can you pass me my Samsung?’
Apple doesn’t produce phones. It produces iPhones. You don’t own a phone, you own an iPhone.
Substituting a brand name for a product is not uncommon – think Coke or Glad. However, the difference here lies in the fact that Coke can refer to any type of cola drink, and Glad to any type of cling wrap. Only phones produced by Apple are iPhones. The iPhone exists within a category of its own.
Now, it’s no news that Apple has been able to achieve massive brand presence and a strong loyalty base. So, what can we learn from Apple’s marketing victory? And can it be replicated?
Most Apple loyalists will tell you that Apple offer functionally superior products, and are thus a more successful company. However, when consumers pay double for white Apple headphones, something other than functionality is at work. In marketing terms, reducing the success of a brand to the products it creates is a simplistic view. Products can be imitated. It is the brand that holds the unique relationship with their consumers – whether they acknowledge it or not.
It is about building something bigger than your product. Something people can use to connect to each other. Red Bull connects its customers through a common interest of extreme sports. Blackmore’s is currently building an online community dedicated to health and well being. Like Apple these brands are creating tribes – where emphasis is on people, not product.
What do you think of this tribe mentality? Can it work across all categories?