This timeless truth is ever more relevant today, when we are witnessing in real time the convergence of multiple forces driving decision making when it comes to brand choice. In the not-so-distant past, Marketing 101 would tell us that consumer decision making is influenced by the 4Ps (Product – Price – Promotion – Place). These days, cultural, social, environmental, and even political forces are shaping brand choice. One doesn’t have to look very far – even a can of beer has become symbolic of one’s values and where one stands in the cross-fire of the many forces converging.
It is critical, therefore, that in shaping and/or sharpening brand and broader business strategy today, we seek to: (1) Examine the full picture from different angles; (2) Leverage a set of carefully selected tools relevant for the task at hand.
When it comes to examining the full picture from different angles, great marketers, researchers, brand strategists, and business consultants overall would benefit from ‘radical collaboration,’ to borrow a term from the design thinking field. Just like in the art of alchemy where one transforms various base metals into gold, the best answer comes from connecting the dots across various perspectives. The best strategists in today’s world seek out different perspectives and/or build over time diverse experience and rich expertise themselves.
- For instance, having worked on the client side, the research and insights side, the strategy consulting side, as well as the agency-of-record (AOR) side provides one with the full hands-on experience journey: from defining the business issue to unearthing the most powerful insights, from there leveraging these insights to drive and inspire actions in the market place. This broad perspective and lessons learnt along the way inform sharper business discernment and a more impactful approach.
- Similarly, there’s a great potential in cross-pollinating between the Health/Pharma side and the Consumer/Non-Pharma side. For example, on the one hand, the Consumer side has long relied heavily on emotional differentiation given very limited scope for functional differentiation – think Dove, one of Unilever’s top multi-billion global brands that has its root strength in a bar of soap. This is something that the Pharma side is just slowly catching up on. On the other hand, the Pharma side has long worked with different sets of customers and stakeholders in crafting the brand strategy – the physicians, the patients, the caregivers, the payors/ health insurance firms, the patient advocacy groups, etc. This is something that the Consumer side is fast embracing given today’s dynamic climate.
When it comes to a set of carefully selected tools relevant for the tasks at hand, having a strong strategic approach from the get-go helps avoid falling into either chasing the next ‘shiny toys’ or staying stuck in the comfort of status-quo. It can be tempting to look for the next best thing. The research and insights space in recent years has been filled with buzzwords like BE, AI, ML, etc. However, innovative tools and methods are just that – tools and methods. They are the means to the end. How one crystalizes the business problem to be solved and pinpoints what it takes to solve the problem should determine what tools and methods are best deployed.
- A case in point: When it comes to pharma visual aid testing, complementing the traditional metric-based qualitative research with robust quantitative study designed with behavioral economics in mind can yield surprising and insightful answers. In a recent project at Shapiro+Raj, we have seen that the visual aid that won the ‘popular contest’ across the key metrics in the qualitative portion is actually not the winner in the ‘prescription contest’ in the quantitative portion of the study. Combining learnings from both parts helped optimize the final visual aid to drive both prescriptions and brand perception.
Stephen R. Covey (1932 – 2012) said, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.” A purposefully integrated approach with diverse perspectives and experiences, complemented by a set of strategically selected tools, helps show the fullest picture of reality; thus, yield the richest insights. This, in turn, will help develop the most impactful strategy and actions to optimally address the business question at hand.
In the very dynamic context that is here to stay at both macro and micro levels, it takes no less than this to build brands and businesses that not only achieve financial success but also meaningfully serve to advance people’s lives and society at large. Are you leveraging rich perspectives to inform the key business issues and opportunities on the table? Are you seeing the full picture? Connect with us at [email protected].