Stop hiding behind research and go out and meet the public, says Y&R global planner

Agencies and brands need to step back from research and focus groups and go out to meet real consumers, face to face where they live, the global planning director of Y&R has warned.

Agencies need to "get naked" with consumers

Agencies need to “get naked” with consumers

Sandy Thompson told the audience at Mumbrella 360 that as much as brands believed they were being “authentic with consumers” their lack of understanding of people beyond the data researchers served up was creating a gap that could only be filled by getting out and meeting people face to face.

“All this knowledge is fantastic but it gives us a false sense that we know who our customers are,” Thompson said.

“When you have too many choices you are fearful you won’t make the right choice.”

She urged businesses to “get naked” and go beyond and look at the people around them who their influencers were to get a better picture of what they wanted.

Thompson said the industry needed to change its mindset about how it viewed and talked to people.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is that we call consumers ‘targets’,” she said. “How does it feel to be called a ‘target’?”

She said agencies could start the process by the simple act of looking up from their screens and observing the world around them, then going to places agency staff often feared to tread.

But she also counselled that clients needed to be taken along for the ride or risk relying on research to chart their course.

“Aligning the corporate culture is one of the biggest barriers,” she said.

“You need to take clients and put them face to face with consumers. It’s no sense hearing it (their story) from me; they need to hear it from the the consumer.”

Thompson said starting the process was simple and that agencies needed to treat it like dating, where the first date was uncomfortable but by the third date people were ready for a relationship.

“Where do you start? Look up. We spend too much time looking down,” she added.

“If you want to understand how a lion hunts you don’t got to the zoo, you go to the jungle. It will liberate you and take you to a different level.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.