💎 Drowning in maths and starving for ideas (data is not enough)

  • 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

💎 On consuming the product (not the brand)

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.

Excerpt from: Elephants on Acid and other bizarre experiments by Alex Boese

💎 On the fluidity of our buying behaviour (depending on mood and occasion)

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.

Excerpt from: How not to Plan: 66 ways to screw it up by Les Binet and Sarah Carter