In this episode, we cover
Emmanuel Probst discusses the importance of brand transformation and understanding consumer behavior through segmentation and predictive analytics. He emphasizes the need for brands to not only understand and transform their consumers but also to have a purpose that aligns with their capabilities and makes a positive impact on the world.
Hello and welcome to all of our viewers at Entropik Podcast. Today I have here with me Emanuel Probst, he is a global lead brand stock leadership at Ipsos, adjunct professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of Brand Hacks and Assemblage, the art and science of brand transformation.
In your book, Assemblage, you discuss building brands that transform people and their world. So brands can no longer force products into us. They have to understand us, change us and the world for good, I believe. Can you share some examples of brands that have successfully achieved this transformation from your 17 years of research background?
That's the starting point. In this new book, Assemblage, the art and science of brand transformation is to say brands can not only go to sell products, but must also transform us and the world we live in.
And look, a great example that comes to mind is Dove. Dove has been on a campaign for real beauty since I think about since 2017 and Dove would like to show people what real beauty is about in a nutshell. The core message is to say you are beautiful as you are, and we do have provide products to clean and nourish your skin. Yet you do not have to use Photoshop and filters on social media. We do encourage you to reveal your real beauty. Your skin is not perfect. And that's OK because nobody's skin is perfect. That's another example of a brand that's transformational and that is authentic. And it really encapsulates the concept of Dove is not here just to sell soap. They do so, and that's OK. But Dove is also here to transform you from who you are to who you want to become.
Remember that the hero is not the brand. The hero... are people and the brand is here to support people, not consumers. I'm choosing this word, people. The brand is here to support people in this transformation. What's important in advertising, in marketing communication, and brand communication, is indeed the brand must support me to transform me and my world from who I am and who I want to become. So I think that is something that every industry you're in should absolutely keep in mind at all times.
How important is now audience segmentation?
Segmentation is more so relevant than ever before, exactly as you said. And to build on what you said, we can still segment according to demographics, and that is relevant. Although, I would argue that income is irrelevant most of the time. That's because if you want to treat yourself to a $7 or 7 euros Frappuccino at Starbucks, really doesn't matter whether you make $20,000, $200,000, or $2 million a year. What matters is your intention to engage with the brand. But anyway, we can use demographics, age, gender, region, household size, background, ethnic background, education, and all that. And we must also consider psychographics. So psychographics are the values and beliefs and culture of those audience groups. And last but not least, we really need to understand what I call the moment of truth or the moment of need. That is, when, why, with whom, and how people are going to consume the product.
How do you approach measuring and amplifying the connection between brands and consumers? Are there any innovative measurement techniques or tools that you would recommend?
Yeah, historically, we would measure tactical performance. What I mean by tactical performance is you would want to understand the performance of specific creative executions across publishers, media channels, specific combinations, let's say TikTok plus Instagram, and so on and so forth. And you would want to do so at a user level. The truth is this is not really possible anymore because the media landscape is so fragmented. And candidly, I would argue that it's not super relevant simply because you cannot activate it at that granular level anyway. So the future of advertising performance measurement is going to be to understand the cumulative effect of those different publishers and media channels, and maybe the sequencing.
And what I call the sequencing, that is, if you advertise on TikTok, and then on Instagram, and then on Outdoor, all things being equal, the outcome will be different than if you were to advertise on TikTok, and then Instagram, and then outdoor, for example. So you will want to understand the cumulative effect across different media channels and its sequencing towards these audience segments that you defined before. And also, you want to understand not only the performance impact. of your campaign, that is, how many products am I going to move on Monday? Sure, that's fine. But you really must also understand the brand equity, the brand awareness, and the preference, and the desire for your brand. So those strategic elements in measurement are particularly important simply because the brands that do well. are the ones that rely on a strong brand strategy, not simply only on performance advertising.
But here I have a follow-up question. As a consumer psychologist, what are some very interesting findings or insights you've discovered about consumer behavior that brands should take into consideration when developing their marketing and brand strategy?
Yeah, well the frightening news is most consumers don't care about most brands. People really don't care. And there are very few brands that command true love and desire and loyalty and dedication. And in the marketing community, we always end up quoting the same brands. We're going to talk about Nike, we're going to talk about Apple, we're going to talk about Patagonia. And those brands are great. The truth is, they are few and far between.
So the key finding, from one of the key findings from this latest book, is people are on a quest for meaning. People are on a quest, again, to... become who they really want to be, to reveal, to transform, to reveal who they really are, who they really want to become. And the brand has to support their quest. as a consumer psychologist. And that's really an important distinction. So thank you, whereby I start from the standpoint of the consumer, of people, and understand. what meaning these people want to access, want to fulfill, and from there build brands that are meaningful and satisfying for people, as opposed to starting from the brand and try to force feed products to people. So that's how I think we build great brands, by starting from people and consumers and citizens, not from the standpoint of a brand.
To really understand them and to help them in their quest of finding their real selves. So do you think that methods like multi-touch attribution or predictive analytics can help in that? Have you used such methods? Do you think these are essential for understanding the consumer's path to purchasing this new reality where we don't want to force something to them but we want to understand what their quest looks like?
Multi-touch attribution is a model to attribute the success of a campaign to various touch points, right? That's really what it is. On paper, it looks very promising. However, it's very hard. to build a model that is truly holistic, just because of the fragmentation in the media landscape I mentioned earlier. If you're a brand and you have 50, 60, 70 creative executions on TikTok, and just as many on Instagram, and then you have some linear TV, and then you have some CTV, and then some outdoor, and so on, and some influencers, and so on and so forth, it's just extremely hard. I would say, not possible to build a model that is really reliable. And even if you were to do so, you won't be able to do so at user level. And even if you were able to do so, you wouldn't be able to activate upon that. What I mean by this is you're going to end up with way too many segments and way too many avenues anyway. In contrast, predictive analytics, indeed, to your point, anything that has to do with behavioral economics and predictive analytics, I think is very powerful, whereby you are going to consider cohorts of people and anticipate the behavior of cohorts of people based, as we said, maybe their demographics, but also their psychographics and those moments of truth, those moments of needs, meaning the job to be done, meaning when, why, and with whom they are going to need the product. So, to summarize to be more concise, multidirectional attribution is hard to implement and very hard to act upon. Predictive analytics and considering the brain as a prediction machine is going to become more and more relevant and more and more impactful.
We are taking in consideration predictive models to, let's say, produce a new campaign like the Belvedere vodka. Now, when testing it, can we rely just on the old-fashioned testing, or can we integrate here some new emotional measures go a little bit more into the system one insights for testing what we have already produced believing that it is with a mindset for helping the consumer in the quest of their real self.
There are a few things you can do, not so much to replace, but to augment the testing you did at an earlier stage. So once you have your creative, you could do some live creative testing, whereby you're going to want to understand how this creative performs in market. And we're not going to get too technical here, but it's the opportunity to deploy this creative among a restricted small audience and understand how it performs so that you will be able to present the best performing creative to the best audience, really to match as efficiently as you can the creative with the audience. And the second thing to consider is sources of data we now have access to.
So traditionally, you will do some focus groups and surveys or some form of copy testing, which is basically an hybrid of quant and qual, which is, again, very relevant and efficient and powerful and proven and reliable. And you can bring more data sets, disparate data sets, to your measurement. from social media listening, but also depending on your brand, depending on your vertical, your industry, you may want to consider news monitoring, you may want to consider legislative publications, you may want to consider academic publications. So again, it really depends if you're in toothpaste, you don't care so much about academic and legislative publications however, if you are in the tobacco industry and you're transitioning towards vaping, for example, now this is going to become very relevant. Or if you're a tech brand, or a social media platform, the legislative publications and news monitoring is going to become extremely important to not only measure but hopefully predict the impact of news and legislation on your brand and your market.
And what about some technologies, methodologies like eye tracking, facial coding, attention measurement is becoming more and more popular metric in the industry. I keep hearing discussions about conversing it into a currency, so you can exchange it within the different vendors. So do you think that these instruments have their place for testing already considered new concepts, not new designs?
Yes, it's interesting what you said. You spoke about some great methodologies and methods, and then you spoke about a currency. So yes, eye tracking, attention, and measurement, you spoke about system one. All this has to do with behavioral measurement, behavioral analytics, which absolutely, I'm with you, paired with attitudes, how do you feel, If you pair this with how do you behave, what you do, that is indeed a very powerful combination to determine what works and what doesn't, and to close what we call at Ipsos, the say-do gap, meaning the difference between what people might say and how they really are going to act. The word currency, I'd be a lot more I'm less keen, if you will, on currencies, just because, as tempting as it is, we see, for example, in the TV market in North America, not only in North America, but we see the limitations of the concept of a currency to trade advertising. I'll leave it at that since it's obviously a competitor of ours handling TV measurement, at least for North America. Not that we're involved in that market anyway, but I don't want to disrespect this company and say bad things, if you will. But to make a long story short. Leveraging measurements to optimize your media investments is very relevant. Doing so by combining behaviors and attitudes is very relevant. Going all the way to establishing a currency, here again, it's, I think, a very distant dream in my opinion and in my experience.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing. Okay, so we spoke about the new methods of finding out about the quest of our, of the consumers, about what brands should go after, what you see as the next steps in research. Could you share a success story where your expertise in data onboarding and integration and activation has significantly improved the brand's performance or marketing effectiveness?
Absolutely. Reflecting on everything we discussed so far, Stefka, I can think of our client Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard manages who owns a portfolio of brands in the alcohol category. So absolute vodka. Perrier-Jouët-Champagne. Of course, Pernod and Ricard, those are brands that are well-known in Europe, and so on and so forth. And what Pernod-Ricard does is, of course, some qualitative research and of course some surveys. Importantly, they consider the results in light of what they call moments of conviviality. That means not just demos, but when and why and with whom do people consume alcohol? What I mean by this is when you buy a vodka, it's highly unlikely as a consumer that you're going to consider a competitive set per se. Meaning, when you buy vodka, you're not going to think, am I going to buy Absolute rather than Gregor's or Belvedere? You are going to buy vodka towards a specific occasion. Am I going out with friends and I'm going to consume the vodka at a bar? what we call entree, or am I going to host a party at my house, or am I going to host a romantic dinner with significant other, in which case I'm going to buy champagne. And here you have, and of course I cannot comment on the specific results, but in terms of the inputs and outputs, you consider those different moments of conviviality, and you want to establish a brand to own the moment. It's not so much owning the market, which in all candour is very hard to do in almost all categories, but you want to own a moment.
Great, thank you, thank you so much. So we are talking about the moments with whom, where and how people consume a product. So this leads me to ethnography research. And does it make ethnography research again, even more important than it has ever been and the results from this it really be taken in consideration a lot more seriously? than ever.
Yes, and even more so when it comes to ethnography at your home. So as we know, there are several forms of ethnographies, right? You can do this at the gym and at the office. I mean, depending on what product you research. Even more so because first, as an outcome of a pandemic, people spend more time at home than before. Even though we're no longer on lockdowns, the fact is you spend more time at home than before. So your home is really the VIP centre of your life now. And you're not necessarily trying to get out as much as before. Also, because the purpose of your home is now more diverse. What I mean by this is your kitchen table can be your kitchen table but maybe it's also your desk and maybe it's also the table where your kids do their homework and so on and so forth. So you spend more time at home and your home is the place where you achieve a wider range of missions if you will. As such ethnographic research is so powerful and so relevant also because and number one upside of ethnographic research is to understand and to visualize, to witness how people use the product in its context.
Great. And can you give us an example from your experience where ethnography research has helped a brand uncover some insights that brought a lot of value to them?
Yeah, so Procter & Gamble has been a big fan of ethnographic research for years. Their CMO, AG, Leffley used to do a lot of ethnographic research, spend a lot of time at people's homes, specifically in Asia, and would attribute, and rightly so, a very large share of their success to ethnographic research. That's because as marketers we tend to be bubbled if we stay in our offices, and if you bring people to a focus group facility or to a survey, very few of us... really, truly realize how do you use bleach and how do you use sponge and dishwashing liquid and so on and so forth. You collect insights that are way more granular by realizing how people use, handle the product in their house. That's how, for example, you might create a bottle that you can flip. and so that it holds a certain position on your sink, right, as an example. So ethnographic research is particularly relevant in consumer package groups, or you can call it FMCGs, fast moving consumer goods, as you call them in Europe.
Great, thank you for this example. So to summarize for our audience, we do see ethnography research as even more relevant than it has ever been because people spend a lot more time at home. Brands really need to understand how they use the products in reality and to really see the products in the real life of people and the real people in their real life. So this is about the consumer centricity, but there is also one very important part of your book where you talk about brands and how they should change the world as well. So not just change the consumer, but the world as well. Does this has to do with brand purpose? It's a buzzword. It has become a buzzword in the marketing community. What is your take on that? What is the...
Yeah, sure. My take on brand purpose is, as you said, it is and it has been a buzzword. It kind of all started with that book, start with why, whereby, what matters is really why you do it, not necessarily what brands do. Here is how it has evolved. Number one, so for too long, brands just had to adopt a purpose and therefore they just jumped on the bandwagon, right, if you will. In all reality, over the last few years and particularly since the pandemic, what we see is Brands must not only claim but also demonstrate their purpose. And Brands must also claim a purpose that aligns, if it's a purpose, a singular purpose, with what they do, what they can deliver. And it has to be realistic. It has to be relatable. And it has to be something that brands can demonstrate. That's all to say that, yes, brand purpose is still very relevant. Yet it has to make sense. And it has to also impact people's lives in a fashion that's relatable, that they can. hopefully even experience. So when a brand tells people that it's going to become carbon neutral in 2040, candidly nobody cares. One, because we're in 2023 and so this dream is too distant. And two, if you're an airline or an airport, even by 2040 I'm not certain and I would love to be So that's an example of purpose that is not credible, not believable. Now, if your purpose is to say you're going to make chocolate or serve coffee with respect for the producers, for the supply chain, for the farmers, now that makes a lot more sense because you can demonstrate your engagement in the local farming communities and translate in the customer experience.
Thank you, thank you for that. So we spoke about how brands should change, how they should go more consumer centric and not force products on us and go for a better world. Now I want to go back to you and how you have changed in your first book, Brand Hacks. It became a Wall Street Journal bestseller. How has your writing evolved since you published Brand Hacks in 2019? How you will compare it to the new one?
Thank you. You know, that's a great question. I think this book is very optimistic, more strategic. The Brand Hacks was quite a tactical book, if you will, with a lot of case studies that are still relevant. Assemblage has a positive tone. That is, we as marketers, as advertisers, market researchers, brand strategists, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact on people, on consumers, and on the world around us. Also, this book empowers you to do so. So it shows you how to do that, no matter if you have 20 years experience and you're CMO at a Fortune 500, or if you have three months experience and you're an intern at a local start-up. As such, the book is optimistic and empowering for people. And if I may, that's really what I'm the most proud of, to tell readers. No matter where you're at in your career, you can step in, you can make a difference, you can have a positive impact on your clients, on your associates, on your boss, on your colleagues. And this book shows you how to do so.
Well, I would say that you are doing what you're saying and not just saying it in the book. So you are with your readers together with them on their quest to be the better researchers that they really want to be. To conclude this conversation, please tell us one last thing that will inspire us to become assemblers.
Hmm well, The assemblers, so we should all be assemblers whereby we should all create brands by combining those different attributes that might be personal, social, cultural attributes. Here's something I want to share that's optimistic. Take a step back from branding and advertising and consider artists, consider the likes of Jeff Koons, consider the likes of in hip hop music, DJ Khaled or Pharrell Williams or DJ like David Guetta, for example. And in cooking, consider the likes of Gordon Ramsay or Alan Dukas, depending on what region of the world you live in, right? Those names will resonate with you to different extents. Consider someone like Picasso. Consider someone like Da Vinci. And all those people, what they all have in common is while they are artists we admire, they are talented, but not so much in the way we think they are. What I mean by this is they are talented because they assemble, they combine samples, they transform existing materials, and they deliver on an artistic vision. but they don't necessarily do the work themselves, and that's fine. What the assemblers do is deliver on a vision and deliver their art through this vision. And as parting words, that's what I want to share with the audience, that your opportunity is not to try to reinvent the wheel. Very few people and very few brands truly invent brand new products. You can't. achieve so much and better by repurposing, by combining, by copying, by transforming what is already in existence. So you may, you should continue to admire Picasso and Jeff Kuntz if you do and keep in mind that they're talented because of their ability to deliver on their artistic and strategic vision and you can do the same in branding.
Thank you, that was really insightful. Maybe I will summarize it with the title of a book I read two years ago, by Austin Kleon! So Still Like an Artist, be the researcher you are, but Still Like an Artist. Thank you very much, Emmanuelle, for this insightful conversation. It was a real pleasure.
Emmanuel Probst discusses the concept of brand transformation and gives examples of brands that have successfully achieved it.
- Belvedere vodka's ad with Daniel Craig illustrates how the brand supports his transformation into a more progressive and metrosexual individual.
- Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign is an example of a brand that aims to transform societal beauty standards.
Time Stamp: 04:14
Audience segmentation is more relevant than ever before in brand communication, and it should include demographics, psychographics, and understanding the moment of truth.
- Income is irrelevant in audience segmentation.
- Psychographics should consider the values, beliefs, and culture of versions groups.
- Understanding the moment of truth is important to know when, why, with whom, and how people consume the product.
Time Stamp: 08:30
Consumers are on a quest for meaning and the brand has to support their quest.
- Most consumers don't care about most brands.
- People are on a quest to become who they really want to be and the brand has to support their quest.
- Great brands are built by starting from people and consumers, not from the standpoint of a brand.
Time Stamp: 12:48
Predictive Analytics is powerful in anticipating the behavior of cohorts of people.
- Multi-touch attribution is difficult to implement and act upon.
- Live creative testing can help understand how creative performs in markets.
- Access to various sources of data can help in efficiently matching creative with the audience.
Time Stamp: 17:03
Eye tracking and attention measurement are powerful tools when paired with behavioral analytics and attitudes for determining what works and what doesn't in media investments, but establishing a currency for exchanging these metrics is a distant dream.
- Eye tracking and attention measurement are becoming more popular metrics in the industry.
- Pairing behavioral analytics with attitudes and behaviors is a powerful combination for determining what works and what doesn't in media investments.
- Establishing a currency for exchanging these metrics is a distant dream, as it has limitations and may not be relevant.
Time Stamp: 21:20
Ethnographic research is more important than ever, especially at home, as people spend more time there and use their space for a wider range of activities.
- Ethnographic research is powerful and relevant because it helps to understand how people use the product in its context.
- People spend more time at home due to the pandemic and their homes are now the epicenter of their lives.
- Ethnographic research can help brands uncover valuable insights about how their products are used in the context of people's homes.
Time Stamp: 25:35
Brands must not only claim but also demonstrate their purpose, and it has to be realistic, relatable, and impactful to people's lives.
- Brand purpose has become a buzzword in the marketing community.
- Brands must claim a purpose that aligns with what they do and can deliver.
- The purpose has to be relatable and demonstrate able.
- Brand purpose has to impact people's lives in a fashion that's relatable.
Time Stamp: 29:51
The book empowers readers to have a positive impact on their clients, associates, colleagues, and the world, regardless of their career level.
- The book is optimistic and empowering for people at any career level.
- Readers can make a difference and have a positive impact on those around them.
- The author encourages readers to become "assemblers" by combining different attributes to create brands.
- The author cites examples of artists who are talented because they combine samples to transform existing materials and deliver on an artistic vision.