Friday, April 9, 2010

The Art of Consumer Empathy Part II - Respect

Are you ready to embrace the need to create a culture of consumer empathy in your company to drive more relevant innovation? Then it is time to assess whether your organization needs a consumer empathy booster shot, and to hard-wire consumer empathy techniques into your organizational DNA. The answers to a few simple questions, ranging in degree of commitment involved, can help you judge whether consumer empathy in your organization is in short supply:

1. Fundamental:
Does your organization respect consumers and prospects across all touch points?

2. Advanced:
Do your approaches to deep-rooted understanding maximize your insight AND empathy?

3. Hard-Wired:
Do you LIVE your consumer? Experience THEIR value chain firsthand?

Does your organization respect consumers and prospects across all touch points?
From how you research consumers for insight building and evaluative testing, to how you communicate to them in media and at shelf, and how you respond to them in post-purchase satisfaction transactions – all are touch points that can be improved when consumer respect and empathy influence your decisions.

A sure sign your empathy switch may be set too low is a lack of consumer respect during the front-end insight efforts that are essential to getting innovation right. Do you suffer from attention deficit during qualitative and abusively long quantitative surveys? Shamefully I admit to guilt on both counts at times!

Kidding Aside: Let’s face it, lengthy days observing repetitive consumer groups or interviews can become tedious. Backroom conversation, humor, and multi-tasking relieve the tedium and tension. But if you observe that your consumers are becoming the brunt of behind-the-mirror jokes because of who they are, how they look/act, and what they say, then empathy may be in short supply. And if your focus groups are becoming an exercise for the ears of your moderator only, perhaps it is time to rethink how you use qualitative. Are you conducting too many sessions, inviting too large a group (front or back room), or staying too superficial to be truly enlightening?

Time Value of Consumers: Another signal of a respect gap is the length and quality of the interview experience, particularly for quantitative. It is common for marketing to pressure their consumer insights partners, and for consumer insights to then pressure their research suppliers, to expand the length and complexity of surveys. If you respect your consumers, respect their time and your insights will be higher quality.

Yes, this is basic. But if you disrespect your consumers when you need them to reveal their deepest emotions and behavioral motivations, you short change your ability to collect, recognize, and internalize meaningful elements of the consumer equation. Respect your consumers and you can connect at deeper levels through even more powerful techniques such as consumer communities and ethnography... the topic of our upcoming empathy post.

source: www.FoodTrends.com Food & Beverage Matters Blog

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