- Do you think Coke has data that Pepsi doesn’t have?
- Do you think McDonald’s has data that Burger King doesn’t have?
- Do you think Ford has data that Chevy doesn’t have?
Here’s my point – just about the same data is available to just about everyone who wants it. And if you don’t have it, with about two clicks of a mouse you can buy it.
It’s not the data that makes the difference, it’s what you do with it.
Give a mediocre person or company all the data in the world and they’ll come up with garbage. Give a brilliant person or company one critical fact and they’ll build you an industry.
Hundreds of physicists had the same data as Einstein. But Einstein had something they didn’t – the creative brilliance to formulate a vision of what the data meant.
The advertising industry – whose only important asset is ideas – has learned nothing from this. We keep heading in the wrong direction. We keep bulking up everything in our arsenal except our creative resources. Then we take the people who are supposed to be our idea people and give them till 3 o’clock to do a banner.
Sure, we need people who are tech-savvy and analytical. But more than anything, we need some brains-in-a-bottle who have no responsibility other than to sit in a corner and feed us crazy ideas. We keep looking to “transform” our industry but ignore the one transformation that would kill.
Excerpt from: Advertising for Skeptics by Bob Hoffman
The foolhardy researcher who dared question the cola dogma was Read Montague of Baylor College of Medicine. In 2005 Montague conducted a scientifically controlled, double-blind version of the Pepsi challenge. Participants received two unlabeled cups containing Coke and Pepsi. They were asked to drink them and indicate which tasted better. The result—an even split between the two drinks, with no correlation between the brand of cola participants claimed to prefer beforehand and the one they chose in the study. Tasters could not distinguish between the two. These results horrify Coke and Pepsi lovers. They insist—science and double-blind tests be damned—that they would have been able to tell the difference.
Our ‘beliefs’ about brands are nowhere near as stable and consistent as we think. As Ehrenberg-Bass’s work with re-contact surveys has shown, individual opinions about brands are much more volatile than top-line tracking data suggests.
The overall percentage of people who agree ‘Pepsi tastes better than Coke’ might stay the same from survey to survey. But that doesn’t mean that individual respondents are answering the same way each time. Look at the data more closely, and you’ll see that people answer research questions in a ’probabilistic’ way. They may lean slightly in favour of one brand or another, but they don’t have fixed beliefs.
Behaviour patterns are similarly fluid and messy. We like to think that people divide into distinct buying groups. But look at long runs of data, and you’ll find that real-life buying behaviour is much more ’agnostic’. Buyers of premium brands also buy Own Label; low-fat buyers also buy full fat; Coke buyers buy Pepsi.
Our opinions about brands fluctuate depending on mood and occasion. And so do our brand choices. In the morning, we feel healthy and go for low fat. In the afternoon, we want chocolate.
But weirdly, I’ve never asked for Dr Pepper in a bar because you know they’re not going to have it and there’s that mild embarrassment about asking for something they haven’t got, and feeling like a bit of a twat. However, if you ask for Coke and they don’t have it, it’s their fault not yours, the whole dynamic’s completely different. The only place that it’s socially acceptable not to sell Coke is a total health farm weirdo place full of organic produce, and even then it’s a bit irritating. They’ll have loads of those Fentimans Victorian-style lemonades, and even then it’s a bit irritating—come on, just sell Coke for crying out loud! Everywhere else has to sell Coke and it’s their fault if they haven’t got it. An aversion to little things like minor forms of embarrassment stop me from being a maximiser and asking for Dr Pepper, and I’ll always ask for Diet coke if I’m in a pub or a bar unless they have some massive sign saying ‘We Sell Dr Pepper’, in which case I would obviously ask for Dr Pepper.
Excerpt from: Rory Sutherland: The Wiki Man by Rory Sutherland