Think like a consumer instead of a brand
March 26, 2014 7 Comments
Two explorers are walking through the jungle. Suddenly they hear a tiger roar.
One explorer sits down and takes a pair of running shoes out of his backpack.
“You’re crazy, you’ll never out-run a tiger,” says the other explorer.
“I don’t have to out-run the tiger,” he replies. “I just have to out-run you.”
This is the story Dave Trott tells in his book Predatory Thinking, to explain his philosophy of looking at a challenge you can’t solve and getting ‘upstream’ of it – changing it into a challenge you can solve. I was reminded of it this morning when a mate of mine, the CD and digital guru Steve Farkas, drew my attention to the new campaign for the HTC One. I think it has a touch of ‘predatory thinking’ about it.
Apple and Samsung are the leaders in the smartphone sector by a wide margin. Their products are great, their marketing is strong and their media spend is huge. It’s tough for the brands in third, fourth and fifth place to get onto consumers’ radars. I’ve worked in the sector – on Sony Mobile – and have seen up close how most challengers try to compete on product points. But even if they have brilliant smartphones with great features, unless they do something brilliant, their product message is often drowned out by all the other brands’ product messages. There’s an ongoing features arms race going on in this sector and we’ve got to a point where all consumers hear is a load of jumbled messages about better cameras, bigger displays, more pixels, works underwater, blah blah blah. Nothing sticks; it’s the advertising equivalent of white noise. Many consumers, understandably, take the easy option and default to the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.
The clever thing about the HTC work is that rather than diving straight into product points and continuing the victor-less feature war, they’ve gone upstream and started with a consumer insight about the way people buy smartphones. This is not a category where people think “Ooh, I like the ads, I’m going to buy the product.” It’s a category where they do research and seek opinions – from friends, family, store staff…and, most of all, online. So, boldly confident in the quality of their product (off the back of outstanding feedback from industry bodies, bloggers and reviewers), their message is, Don’t listen to us, listen to what the world is saying about our phone.
It’s so refreshing and confident it made me stop and think. It made me want to Google the HTC One to see if it’s for real. At which point I actually did engage with the product story. Which is job done. By pausing for thought rather than diving in with the usual approach. By recognising the way the world actually is rather than the way we (as advertisers) want it to be. By thinking like a consumer instead of a brand.