MARTIN LINDSTROM

As GLOBAL com­pa­nies at­tempt to de­code con­sumer BE­HAV­IOUR, there’s one man who in­sists that big­ger isn’t al­ways bet­ter. When it comes to DATA, the devil re­ally is in the DE­TAILS.

Collective Hub - - CONTENTS - WORDS BRID­GET DE MAINE SMALL DATA HAS TWO BEN­E­FITS;

on the im­por­tance of small data

You’d ex­pect that any­one who, in the name of con­sumer re­search, has vis­ited over 2000 homes across 77 coun­tries in the last decade would have picked up a thing or two about hu­man be­hav­iour. But, as brand­ing ex­pert and small data col­lec­tor Martin Lindstrom will tell you, this is only the case if you know where to look. From the cre­ation of his first ad­ver­tis­ing agency at age 12 to the wa­ter­shed in­sights he’s pro­vided for brands such as Lego, McDon­ald’s, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Red Bull, Martin has no short­age of ex­pe­ri­ence to back his call for more fo­cused and at­ten­tive con­sumer re­search.

In or­der to bridge the gap be­tween gi­ant com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­ual users, Martin packs a suit­case and vis­its con­sumers wher­ever they may live: from ev­ery­day Ger­man homes to iso­lated spots in ru­ral Rus­sia. Martin’s take-home clues have been turned into such sig­nif­i­cant in­sights, they’ve even se­cured him a spot on TIME mag­a­zine’s Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple list. Here’s why he thinks the small­est things give the big­gest clues.

WHEN I WAS 12 YEARS OLD, I WAS A HUGE FAN OF LEGO.

So what I did was – as you do when you’re 12 years old – I built my own ‘Le­goland’ in the back­yard of Mum and Dad’s gar­den. And, no one re­ally showed up, so I went down to the lo­cal print of­fice and had them [come on board] as a spon­sor and on day num­ber two, I had 131 vis­i­tors show up. The only prob­lem was that vis­i­tor num­ber 130 and vis­i­tor num­ber 131 were lawyers from Lego su­ing me. No kid­ding. They said it was their brand and I said, ‘No, it’s my brand, I bought all of these boxes’. So, we did a deal that I was to start work­ing for Lego.

VERY FEW COM­PA­NIES, IF YOU ASK THEM, HAVE RE­ALLY GOT­TEN ANY­THING OUT OF [BIG DATA].

Most com­pa­nies have in­stead be­come more ad­dicted to more data be­cause they need more data to ver­ify more data. That’s re­ally the frus­tra­tion [point] we’re at right now. Com­pa­nies have com­pletely lost con­tact with con­sumers be­cause they’re fool­ing them­selves into think­ing data will help them to show those is­sues.

YOU HAVE TO RE­MEM­BER THAT BIG DATA IS ALL ABOUT COR­RE­LA­TIONS:

It’s all about find­ing bil­lions of data points and try­ing to find the cor­re­la­tions be­tween them. There [are] two is­sues with this. First of all, you need [a] hy­poth­e­sis in or­der to find out how you mine all [that] data, be­cause you can’t just look at the data and say, ‘I find it con­fus­ing,’ you need to find out what you’re go­ing to search for and then no­tify whether it’s right or wrong. That’s tricky be­cause most peo­ple don’t have the in­sight to do that so what you end up with is a lot of data. The sec­ond thing re­ally is that data rarely de­scribes… you as a per­son. If you have a boyfriend, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t de­scribe him as be­ing one me­tre, 73cm tall and the colour of his hair be­ing colour 5062. The real­ity is that big data re­ally is de­scrib­ing peo­ple like that.

HU­MANS ARE AN ODD SPECIES – QUITE OF­TEN WE LIE A LOT [AND] BIG DATA IS NOT NEC­ES­SAR­ILY PICK­ING UP ON THAT.

If you take your Face­book ac­count or my Face­book ac­count, that is por­tray­ing not who you are but who you would like to be seen as, so a lot of the on­line data we are shar­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily who we are.

IF YOU ARE SIT­TING IN A CAR AND [HAD] A STUPID IDIOT IN FRONT OF YOU WHO IS DRIV­ING LIKE MAD,

you would scream and you would shout and say the worst things you pos­si­bly could say to that per­son. [At that mo­ment], you may not be that per­son you re­ally are: you are one side of the story. This is the kind of data big data is pick­ing up when you have your on­line pro­file go­ing on, but it doesn’t re­ally re­veal who you are and what your true needs are. The real­ity is that big data has a ten­dency to pick on one side of the story which is per­haps your ra­tio­nale be­hav­iour, but there’s an en­tire emo­tional be­hav­iour that was not picked up by that. In the fu­ture we will see a trend, which is go­ing more to­wards [the] need to have that counter bal­ance and that will cre­ate com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages.

first of all, it’s cheap and that means that small busi­nesses can do it. Small data also al­lows that blank space of cre­ativ­ity, once pick­ing up all those clues in con­sumer homes… we add another twist or another di­men­sion to your brand or your prod­uct or your ser­vice [that] the com­peti­tor would rarely think of, be­cause you al­low that cre­ativ­ity in the process. We are in a very com­pet­i­tive so­ci­ety right now where, more and more, we need to find these points of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.

WHEN YOU GO INTO A NEW CUL­TURE, THE BEST WAY TO DO [RE­SEARCH] IS TO TAKE A HAIR­CUT.

It re­ally is to go down to that lo­cal hair­dresser to talk to them and hear their views about the lo­cal cul­ture… to talk to those folks, or to other peo­ple who can give you a very sub­jec­tive view of the lo­cal cul­ture and what the heart­beat is of that cul­ture in that mo­ment, that will help you put things into a per­spec­tive which re­ally is your start­ing point. Once you do that, you spend time in homes and there you take a tonne of pho­tos, but what you’re look­ing for is the ‘out of bal­ance’. You have to re­mem­ber that we’re all out of bal­ance: maybe I feel too awake, maybe I feel I don’t have enough friends or I need to have bet­ter friends, or I feel that I’ve hit my midlife cri­sis and I haven’t achieved enough in my life. All of these ‘out of bal­ances’ rep­re­sent a gap or a brand op­por­tu­nity.

I SAT ON THE PLANE FROM SIN­GA­PORE YES­TER­DAY… AND THERE [WERE] FIVE BUSI­NESS­MEN, ALL OF THEM PLAY­ING CANDY CRUSH.

That’s fine, noth­ing against that, but se­ri­ously, when you fi­nally have seven min­utes, do you re­ally have to oc­cupy your brain with stuff, just to fill it up some­how? This is the is­sue. It’s awk­ward, be­cause that space, that time we once had for our­selves, ac­tu­ally al­lowed us to ob­serve, and that means to be able to see new op­por­tu­ni­ties; it al­lowed us to be present, that means to in­ter­act with peo­ple and in­vite more peo­ple into our lives. Most im­por­tantly, it al­lowed us to be bored, and bore­dom is cre­at­ing cre­ativ­ity, and we’re never bored any­more.

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