There is something to be said for the ability to observe consumers. Interviewing is a great and not over-rated technique but consumers don’t always tell the truth. Good interviewers get to the truth directly or indirectly but observation of behavior doesn’t lie.
I was thinking about this and the bank category the other day. How does one create a great brand plan, then marketing plan for a bank? On Long Island, over the last couple of years a lot of car dealerships have been torn down. Oddly, the lots upon which they sat now house banks. More banks? How to differentiate? I wondered if I were to sit in a bank and observe for a couple of days what I would learn. If a poker player can see tells, why can’t brand planner?
I would watch the eyes of customers as they enter. Watch their hands. Note expressions. As they spoke to bank reps are they falsely smiling and nervous? Do they look at the clock a lot. Check their cell phones too much. Are they emotional? Proud? Deflated? When they talk about certain subjects do they tick? Rub their hands together? Look away? You get the picture. Pairing the behavior with the topic would be quite telling. And provide strong fodder for marketing design.
While with a web start-up that boasted no initial desire for formal usability testing (don’t get me started) I did it myself. Fascinating. Just watching how Millennials navigated around the pages to learn the apps was invaluable. I was able to articulate three types of first user experience (FUE) behavior. Could the users have explained it to me? Doubt it. My cultural anthropology teachers and Margaret Mead were right. Observation is a special, special information gathering tool. Peace!