This is the third in Motista’s series of cartoons by award-winning cartoonist Tom Fishburne, titled “Moments of Truth.” We’re looking forward to your input on this cartoon and any issues related to consumer connection you’d like to see us lampoon in the future. If you post your feedback as a comment by next Tuesday, July 19, we will send you a print of this “Marketoon” signed by Tom (U.S. addresses only).
Look, we would never suggest that a marketer kicking off the annual planning process knows “diddly squat” about their consumers’ motivations. (Well, I guess the Marketoon did.) Remember, it’s just a cartoon meant for us to collectively peek into our own marketing experiences…and laugh.
Having attended dozens of these meetings for a myriad of blue chip brands, I recognize the truth embedded in this humor. Decades after marketing has entered “the age of the consumer,” it’s startling how little we do know—at any given time—about what’s truly motivating consumers to choose or advocate for brands. And it’s marketers who have to endure the pressures and pain points of this information gap.
Especially at moments like “kickoff meetings.”
Knowing Consumer Motivations
Most would agree that what truly motivates our consumers is essential knowledge for marketing. Yet I could argue that the vast majority of marketing activity compensates for the lack of that knowledge. We create offers, add new product features and run promotions to see what sticks. “Look, we moved the needle!” Brands trade against their equity to stimulate short-term sales. We affix on competitive moves. They add a feature, we match. They lower their price, we match. We add a feature; they match…and so on. The paradox here is that the more we try to one-up our competition—instead of connecting with consumer motivations—the more we commoditize our categories.
But understanding why consumers connect is hard work. It takes lots of planning, time, expertise and collaboration. You peel back the layers and unearth a gem of an insight; we learn what makes a consumer tick. Even with these rich, brilliant insights, we can fall short. Why?
The business world we operate in today requires us to have information that’s current, data-driven, accessible and actionable, now.
When it comes to knowing the consumer, there are many instances where marketers feel less than armed. The kickoff meeting is such an event. It’s day one.
On the agenda: Last year’s sales and market share numbers, competitive campaigns and products, the innovation pipeline, maybe some awareness and perception scores, opinions and views are shared. And, surely, we walk away with an action item to learn more about the consumer over the coming months.
It is day one of not really knowing what’s motivating consumers. At Motista, we believe marketers should come to the kickoff meeting on day one armed with intelligence about what is driving consumers to buy more, advocate or remain loyal—keeping consumer motivation front of mind, right where it belongs.