You are not your consumer

Two clients in as many weeks have told us there have been so many new people in their team that many have never really spoken to or directly listened to their target consumers. It’s easy to assume that this doesn’t matter, because if we’re seeing our potential consumers in the media/on social media, we ‘know them’ sufficiently already. But do we really? Another client talked about how most of their team was under 30 while many in their target audience were over 50 and when they actually met them and connected with what matters to them, they were struck by how different this was, not only to their own needs and perspectives, but to what they’d anticipated. The risk of assuming we know, when really we don’t, is that we miss the mark with what and how brands engage and communicate.  We might start out with hypotheses about what people will think (about a brand, idea, turn of phrase, image etc), but so often we discover that the truth isn’t quite what we imagined. 

I was reminded of this on a recent project with mums of small children. Having had 3 myself, I assumed I’d remember the realities of that first year or two, but these were different people in different times, and while there were parallels, there were differences, too. New challenges, new considerations, new feelings and attitudes.  Even if we are ‘in the target audience’ it doesn’t mean we know it all.  

The Covid pandemic hasn’t helped, of course, because of how it literally disconnected us from meeting people and generated a post-pandemic culture in which virtual connections (or not meeting at all) are often the norm All of this is why we find ourselves increasingly advocating qual sessions that enable clients to spend time with their consumers, in person and ideally in the same room (as opposed to behind glass). Actually meeting them, experiencing them and interacting with them. It makes such a difference to understanding the marketing challenge and identifying the opportunities. Let’s all keep reminding ourselves that, even if we are ‘like them’ (and especially if we aren’t) we are not our consumer and commit to meeting and listening to those who are.