As important as demographics, psychographics and values can be to characterise and understand the target audience’s needs and wants, it’s also important to remember this end user exists in a world where your topic, product or service is a very small part of their every-day world.
A few years ago, I did a brainstorm for a major bank in Australia. We conducted several focus groups, interviewing women – we called her ‘Jill’ – to learn about her family’s grocery habits as well as her personal interests about food and nutrition. We put the specific food insights in a blue circle, and lifestyle insights in a white circle. (The chart is a simplification of our final report.)
At a strategy session after the focus groups, we started brainstorming in the blue circle – our ideas were specific to food, making dinners, eating, her kid’s dislikes about food. None of the ideas were particularly interesting. So, we moved into the white circle and began generating ideas which transcended the food category and spoke to her wider interests – her desire to exercise more and her kid’s school activities were the two big areas. These ideas interested the client more, and generally, were more engaging.
After the brainstorm, I realised these key points for future brainstorms about understanding the audience.
Ideas in the blue circle …
- Keep you linked to your category, and frankly, are more difficult to separate from your immediate competition.
- Generally don’t create as much impact – perhaps because they don’t have a surprise factor.
- Are safer, but as a rule, safe ideas are never highly successful – if successful.
Ideas in the white circle …
- Allow you to fit in the target audience’s mindset more often. In other words, they’ll consider you more often throughout a typical day.
- Resonate more. They also tend to have higher media interest, either through traditional or social media.
- Always carry more risk – of all types.