Empathy also supercharges relationships, solidifying and deepening them, ensuring they feel collaborative rather than transactional and personalized rather than generic. In today’s world, brands must engage with the people they serve in authentic and reciprocal ways – in true relationship. Brands are increasingly expected to play a role in making the world a better place. These expectations make empathy key to brand-building and growth.
As Greg Lyons, PepsiCo Beverages NA CEO, pointed out last year, empathy also helps marketers avoid over-indexing on performance metrics and data to the detriment of making people’s lives better.
Today, insights professionals use different types of research to investigate how the people who buy and consume their products and services think and feel. Some of these approaches, such as ethnography, focus groups, 1:1 interviews or certain biometrics, can provide substantial depth in understanding people’s pain points, needs and motivations, but can be costly and time consuming or are heavily dependent on the skills of the observer or moderator. Other approaches such as AI or ML algorithms applied to big data can provide more breadth and scale but can lose the human plot line when results are aggregated for reporting purposes. And surveys, an industry workhorse, may not always reveal a full picture of subconscious motivations.
What we need to fuel our empathy for the people whom we build products and services are additional new or mixed methodologies that turn the tradeoff between holistic depth or broad generalizability into an “and” from an “either/or” decision. At GutCheck we’ve been rolling out solutions that turn “either/or” into “both/and” for a couple of years now. One of our first research solutions in this empathetic vein was Persona Connector, a profiling and audience-understanding solution, that yields marketing insights, recommendations, and guidance that slots directly into a creative brief. By combining survey data, connected big data, and AI algorithms applied to open-ended responses to automatically detect personality traits and identity needs, we provide a deeper, more holistic view of people as people – at lower cost and in substantially less time than the most commonly used alternatives.
Our recently released Innovation Illuminator product also falls into this “and” category. It’s a “qual at scale” approach that uses Hybrid NLP applied to a range of data sources such as product reviews, social media posts, forum or community discussions, focus group or IDI transcripts, marketing materials, and more to go beneath the surface of basic sentiment (beliefs or judgments) to detect a range of specific emotions about people’s experiences using a product, service, or brand or about their journeys along the way. By digging into emotions like love, delight, frustration, anger, desire at the product attribute level, we help clients identify innovation opportunities so they can build breakthrough products that help people make progress and improve their lives.
At GutCheck, we think of ourselves as Empathic Explorers – progressive, open-minded individuals who actively engage with people and put forward bold ideas to drive innovation and growth. Whether it’s a better experience for our clients, new approaches that bring depth and breadth of insights and actionability, or new technology or applications of technology to increase the speed to action, we believe empathy for others is good for brands, good for innovation, and good for business.
Interested in learning more about how empathy can drive better innovation? Drop us a note here.