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It’s high risk trying to create any kind of model for consumers in a category. We’re talking about people after all.

Still, that’s what I’ve just gone and done. Two concentric circles - ‘what they do’ on the outside, ‘why they do it’ on the inside. Or as I prefer, ‘why do they do that?’

So better get myself out of trouble.

Of course, I didn’t really mean two circles.

As Febronia Ruocco commented on my original post, consumers are multi-layered like an onion, with many external and internal drivers.

Daniel Kahneman’s two systems of thinking doesn’t fully explain what’s going on either. Roger Jackson reminded me Kahneman always meant them as metaphors.

IPSOS have also recently written about how the ‘System 1, then sometimes System 2’ sequence isn’t supported by the data. Cognitive processing falls along a continuum, with automatic and deliberative thinking often in conflict.

So it isn’t ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, it’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Quick-ish and Not-that-fast and Starting-to-slow and Definitely-on-the-slow-side and yes, Slow’. Except that would have needed a bigger book.

Put in another way, it’s not Both-ism, it’s All-ism.

Part of the problem is how we insist on dividing the mind into two, the conscious and unconscious. What happened to the subconscious? Psychologists no longer use the term, but I’ve always thought it’s really important to brands.

Like in Robert Heath’s book, ‘Seducing the Subconscious’, which is all about that part of our consciousness not currently ‘in focal awareness’. The TV ad we don’t remember but remember.

Or the feelings we have for brands that can be drawn out of respondents in qual but are hard to measure in quant.

All I mean with my model is there’s what you can see on the surface - how people behave in a category, the initial trigger, the upfront expectations, the journey they go through, the choices they make, the experience they have, the points of pain and pleasure throughout, the attitudes they express.

And then there’s working out why they do what they do.

Of course, there are myriad ways of doing that. Wendy Gordon’s book ‘Mindframes’ is a good reminder of how many. Psychology, social anthropology, semiotics, neuroscience, behavioural economics, neurobiology, linguistics, genetics, they can all help you understand. The thing to do is to “start with uncertainty and curiosity”.

But she also says that “despite the ever-changing context in which we live, human beings remain fundamentally unchanged”.

It’s like those Bill Bernbach’s quotes that Dave Trott loves about ‘simple, timeless human truths’ and ‘unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own’.

So the point of the circles is simply to encourage you (and me) to keep digging. What you need to find is a need insight, one with a tension to resolve, because that’s where the strongest brands lay their foundations.

Which is why you also need a Need Map. You have to know where to dig.

Anyway, I wanted two circles to make it like the ‘o’ in Closer.


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