Of all the questions marketers and planners routinely ask consumers, the most impertinent has to be: ‘And why does that matter?’
The rudeness stems in part from the fact those consumers will have diligently answered at least one direct question already. What’s the thing you most look for in a kids’ cereal or indigestion remedy or current account, we ask, in our chosen research setting. And when their answers round on taste, speed of relief and friendly service we duly nod and note and acknowledge.
But we don’t stop there, do we? Because we’re engaged in the marketer's fetish for 'laddering up', and this is merely the dull old bottom rung. We’re not really interested in those primary answers. So we probe further: ‘And why does that matter? Why is that important to you, do you think?’
A little slower now, with a bit of shifting in their seats and furrowing around the brows, consumers search their subconscious for the reasons for their reasons and – if only to break the awkwardness of the silence – tentatively begin to offer some. ‘Well, my eight-year-old won’t eat it unless he really loves it, so…’
'Ah! And why does that matter?' 'Are you kidding,' says the look on the faces. But no, we’re not, we’re heading up the ladder – from taste, to child nourishment, to growth, to being all they can be. From speedy relief, to getting back to my best, to taking on all-comers, to changing the world. From friendly service, to reassurance, to getting on with the things I really care about, to… well, you know where this leads.
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