A Deep Dive into Consumer Research
When we say the world is made of language, our minds inherently think of our own cultures: Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, etc. If I were to ask one of our senior developers what languages they speak, they’d probably say HTML, CSS, Java, Python, C, and more.
If you’re a developer, you probably perceive the term “language” as the type of code input when building a website or software. If you’re a business owner or business professional, you speak the language of your industry and your consumers. We’ve all got our own languages, and we’ve all heard of some type of technical talk, industry jargon, or even a head-turning accent.
If language means so many different things to different people, what can businesses and marketers take from this? How do we learn to speak the same language as our consumers? How can we utilize our perceived knowledge of language and culture when creating a marketing plan?
Lecturer and author Terence Mckenna would tell you. Mckenna studied the history of various languages and cultures, among many other anthropological topics and practices. As an extremely psychedelic man with sometimes wild thoughts, Mckenna’s concepts are analogous with language and culture, reflecting on marketing now more than ever.
We’re going to dive into the concept of language and culture as primary information for consumer research. By exploring some of Mckenna’s ideas, we can cultivate our own marketing success, and start speaking the right language.
Consumer Research: Understanding the Language
The world is made of thousands of different languages, and with language comes culture. No matter who you are, everyone has their own language. There are so many layers and dialects embedded into cultures, and the many cultures are even further layered with traditions, styles, hobbies, crafts, and interests. Mckenna spoke of the idea that information is primary. He explained how the language of a culture is key, primary information that we can be utilizing and analyzing. The way we communicate says a lot about us. By studying language as primary information, we can understand people, behaviors, and habits in the same way we understand other types of informational data sets. We can set metrics, establish goals, and pivot accordingly. In relation to marketing today, studying language alludes to the term consumer research.
Consumer research is at the forefront of a stellar marketing plan. This research takes time, and to hone the most accurate target audience may take all hands on deck, requiring input from all departments of a business.
A clear understanding and depiction of a consumer group is required for mapping out annual business goals and marketing objectives. Not only is consumer research ongoing, but understanding the language takes time, so keeping up with trends and changes requires endurance.
Examples of Online Consumer Research Strategies
To get some insight into our consumers, marketers turn to social media and website analytics and utilize tools like social listening and brand monitoring.
For example, when online retailers and clothing boutiques read comments on social media and online reviews of their company, they are garnering new vocab and new perspectives. Monitoring this engagement can spark creativity, opportunity, and reinvention for marketers, simply by keeping up with brand mentions. These perspectives help marketers recognize how to speak the same language as their consumers.
Another example is when content teams recognize a trend in engagement with certain types of social posts. When content creators see short snippets getting more engagement than longer posts, they might realize this long-form content isn’t a good fit for a particular platform. Or if they see that candid product shots do better than products with a white background, they can adapt and accommodate. They recognize the need to alter their content plans to give consumers more of what they want to see. They’re learning how to better speak the language of their consumers.
The same goes for producing the content. What good is it to pump out content if you’re not even speaking the same language as your readers? You could be talking or posting for days, but without targeting your messaging is like speaking to an empty room of people. You could be sending a signal, but your signal isn’t breaking through, and you’re not being heard.
To speak your audience’s language you have to understand some fundamentals:
- how they like to intake information (bullets, informational, fun, factual wordy, image-heavy, etc)
- what platforms they use (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, niche-specific)
- what topics truly resonate with them (posts on topics with most engagements)
- what time of the day/night are they most active (times of social engagement, email open rates, website analytics)
- what forms of media they appreciate (videos, gifs, images, boomerangs)
- what forms of copy they appreciate (short posts, how to’s)
- how they like new updates presented (emails, social posts, ads, print flyers, newsletters)
Defining a Threshold for Understanding Consumers
Consider how obviously difficult it is to communicate with someone who only speaks French if you only speak English. You’ll soon realize it takes a lot more than a few high school French classes to communicate well enough. Similarly, consumer research requires some time to devise a strategy, and establish a threshold.
When a business comes to a clear understanding of their consumers, they can finally say they have learned to speak the language. They have done so by learning how their consumers like to intake information, and by learning details about their habits; like the platforms they use, the topics that resonate, and even the time of day they are most marketable. A grasp on your consumers allows you to shift your focus, and adapt accordingly.
Shifting Efforts with New Discoveries in Consumer Research
When the threshold is defined, keeping up with the trends and the chatter isn’t just important for staying in-the-know. Social listening and monitoring online engagement gives you key insight on how to better present yourself to your prospects.
Consumer research goes a long way when it comes to which marketing tactics are best practices for certain consumer groups. A business that speaks the language of their consumers can take consumer research and quantify this data into actionable marketing initiatives. The more a business understands about their consumers, the more clear and definite it will be when deciding on which marketing avenues to invest. Digital marketing teams are constantly shifting their efforts due to new advances in consumer research. The beauty about always learning and staying in the know with your consumers is that you can adjust and pivot as necessary to show up exactly how your consumers want to see you.
Utilizing Language as Information
The content that we read, the emails we send, and the media we scroll through– each online session contains its own mini informational databases. For success in marketing, it’s essential that we tap into these informational databases, and utilize what we know.
Many businesses have not addressed the deeper level of learning the language of their consumers, and the potential behind utilizing consumer research as key business information. Businesses that have done their consumer research are clearly set apart from the rest, proven through exemplary customer service, new product updates and features, and responses to feedback per reviews.
When a business gets there, they realize they can learn to market to their audience better than ever. But it’s not a short road. In 2020, you may think about how challenging this research must be for some companies and small businesses. Why is this such a challenge for some businesses? Is effective marketing really attainable for small businesses? Why is it so overtly difficult for small businesses to break through the noise, and effectively get their messaging in front of the right people? Terrence Mckenna would answer by comparing human culture to operating systems.
The Operating System Metaphor
Mckenna says cultures and humans like operating systems. We all have our own central operating systems. We’re hardware. Each person is similar to a piece of biological wetware/hardware. From our families and personal lives, to work lives and professional lives, we are all home to a network of information.
As we have moved forward through time and as we’ve grown, we have swapped out these operating systems a few times. And at each swap out, there have been plenty of difficulties. At each OS swap out, anyone who has installed a new operating system is probably familiar with the struggle.
Without a siloed marketing plan and a base understanding of consumer research, it can be a challenge for some businesses to keep up. With so many options in today’s digital world, so many competitors and choices on the market, and so many cultures and preferences, it’s common for businesses to feel like they’re pointing their marketing efforts in so many different directions, without much success.
Our hardware has been here for thousands of years. The Homosapien skeleton has been here for so long that there’s more than enough historical data for us to study throughout our evolution. Though our hardware has been here forever, how can we learn to market to people running on the same hardware, but living in a time with so many new technological advancements?
The rate of our hardware and our biological evolution is nowhere in comparison to the rate of technological advancements. That’s why consumer research is so important today. Living in a time of rapidly increasing technological advancements, it’s more difficult now more than ever to send the right signal, to the right person, at the right time. Getting closer to reaching our audiences relies on a well equipped, robust consumer research strategy.
“Living in a time of rapidly increasing technological advancements, it’s more difficult now more than ever to send the right signal, to the right person, at the right time.”
Marketing as Technology Changes
As we’ve moved forward and grown into our cultures of language and practice, we’ve swapped out these operating systems. With each advancement and swap out, it’s always a struggle. As technology changes, consumer needs and wants change. Anyone who has installed a new OS knows the struggle. The responsibility for marketers is to keep up, and to stay curious.
The operating system metaphor is useful to understanding this change and putting things into perspective for our own business or marketing plan. Understanding a language has been something people have been doing for thousands of years, and this rings true in marketing today.
Businesses who are tackling consumer research at the roots of consumer language and culture are more likely to cultivate their own success.
Considering your own marketing plan? Feeling like your consumer research strategy is subpar? Trust the marketing experts at Youtech. Contact us and see how we can help target your messaging, and help you to start speaking the right language.
Comments are closed.