They say that setting high expectations is the root cause of great disappointment. But I disagree. I’d be more disappointed if we aimed for anything less than greatness. Imagine for a moment a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts occupying the same room. It’s strangely intoxicating. It’s truly transformative. And it’s just another day at work for us.
As planners, we’re charged with coming up with insights—but not just any insight will do. The insights must adhere to Hakuhodo’s Sei-katsu-sha Insight philosophy, which urges us to view and understand people holistically—never simply as “consumers.”
“Wow, this first consumer insight is pretty obvious and easy, let’s roll with it.” Said no one at our office ever. We rarely even use the term “consumers” let alone view people as such. It depersonalizes them. It reduces them to faceless statistics, grouped neatly into segments. And honestly, a whole lot of rich insights are lost when we strip people of their equally rich identities.
But when we view so-called consumers as people, that’s when the magic happens. Because sometimes it’s the smallest, most overlooked personal points of view that can ignite meaningful conversations and shake up old paradigms.
Case in point: when we had to launch a functional drink brand into a market already littered with competition, research clearly showed that “consumers” wanted an effective health drink but it had to look and taste delicious as well. Following the obvious data, we ended up with a strategy that didn’t stand out as offering anything different. So, it was back to the drawing board (multiple times). But when we stopped looking at what consumers wanted in a functional drink and instead started looking at how people felt about their health, magic happened. Together with client, it was decided that we would give people what they wanted to feel the most—that they take their health seriously. With that insight, gone was any attempt to look appetizing and instead, we went with a more serious, almost austere approach. Long story short, the brand quickly stood out at launch. It sold out in its first month. It still sells very well to this day. And it’s still probably the least delicious looking of the bunch.
So, setting high expectations isn’t setting us up for disappointment. It sets us up to expect more from ourselves, to go beyond the obvious. So, when we aim high, we aim for the moments when an inspiring insight serves as a catalyst for transformation. For transforming the client’s business and the people we connect with.
Roles and titles current when this article was published in April 2018.