How consumers think?
How Customer Think is a book by Gerald Zaltman. I guess everybody would like to perceive how customers think. Wouldn’t it be a great if one could understand how his/her opponent/date/counterpart/teammate/friend thinks? It will give an unfair advantage to the overseer. This is a very broad and sometimes frightening concept. Due to limitations of blogging I will try to be concise.
Gerald’s position was that purchasing decisions are not rational as most marketers(me included) tend to assume. On the contrary the unconscious and the emotions related with the thought processes are what influences one’s decision to buy product A or even better to buy product A instead of product B. It seems not many leaders have taken note. One needs to be in sync with the world around him and become aware of his surroundings. Every executive should harmonize with his customers;
A step closer to a deal. A book called “What deep metaphors reveal about the minds of consumers” by Zaltman and son gives a better insight into the consumer’s psyche. The metaphors are – quoting the book-“unconscious viewing lenses” which aid us to decode the stimuli form the external environments.
Well I can imagine one blog reader asking WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Well for those without any background in sales or retailing there is a crystal clear correlation between understanding one’s clients and increased sales. Most people describe this “understanding” as “customer insight”. Based on discussions I have had with many salespeople or other business executives this insight is something that they mistake.
News flash: The usual techniques of focus groups and consuming the product will probably get you so far. Talking to the customers or using the product will not lead to understanding the customers. Focus groups in my (humble) opinion are a waste of time. Customers are put in an environment where they are “forced” to talk about a product and give descriptions or reply to really irrelevant or stupid questions. Questions brought to you consciously about unconscious processes will get you nowhere. The answers may even lead to the wrong conclusion.
Having worked briefly as a brand manager I can honestly tell you that the battle is waged not in the surface but in one’sunconscious. First step? Listen! Listening is different to asking or talking with somebody. One glorious example about understanding the customer is the great connection coke has with its consumers(something Pepsi doesn’t). I have been a witness to many scenes where people will ask for a coke(instead of a generic cola). Some restaurants only serve Pepsi. Here how I helped a friend to increase the cola sales by 50% within a 6 month period. My friend’s restaurant sold only Pepsi instead of Coke . A big majority of the patrons just changed their mind when they were notified that the there was no Coke available but only Pepsi. I advised him to just accept the orders and tell them they have cola- without any brand reference(unless the patron asked specifically for a Coke). Well people drank more and more(they didn’t even understand the difference in taste). Maybe it is true that Pepsi has a better aftertaste.
Customers are generally different and independent. I will close this post by make a reference to 2 of my classmates. During the last weeks of school(high school) we were talking about summer. The first of them said “Vacation time is finally coming” while the second also commented “I am approaching vacation time”. Actually these are the same sentences or not? Read closely… The first one reveals a passive tendency.. while the second guy had a more active stance. If I was going to sell a product to them I would create 2 different presentations.
PS the first classmate has taken a passive stance to life and reacts to developments instead of shaping them. The second one is having a brilliant career in front of him and I hope he is reading this now!
Cheers mate! I hope you enjoy London!