Digital information has changed the world. In particular, it made a huge impact on advertising, corporate communications and brands. Some people have even gone so far as to call it a disruption for the marketing industry. In their opinion, the business world has become a completely new one.
JR Little is one of these people. In his book “Listening Brands. How Data is Rewriting the Rules of Branding”, he describes how the roles of brands and consumers have reversed. In the digital world, mass communication does not work as it used to. Consumers, who were reduced to listening before are now speaking on social media. And brands, that until now used to communicate one-way with their customers, need to start listening to what they are saying.
“The consumer is standing on top of the mountain with the megaphone in their hand, and the brand is in the valley below, listening to the message”
The consequences of this shift are tremendous. Brands can no longer be designed solely in creative agencies or a company’s backroom. Instead, brands need to observe or listen to their customers and respond accordingly. In other words, successful brands need to resonate with their customers and tie their communication to consumer insights.
”The data reporting and responsiveness by companies is getting so intelligent, that people don’t need to work so hard to make decisions anymore”
This is where research data comes into play. The author has mainly behavioural approaches in mind: user tracking with cookies or ID matching, social media research or passive mobile research. This data can be used in two ways for listening to customers. Macro-listening aims for detecting patterns in aggregated data sets, while micro-listening tries to spot individual posts or actions to react in the moment. Depending on the overall objectives, companies will require a new kind of infrastructure to deal with their data streams.
Even though the top-line analysis of the business environment in the book is very plausible, the author seems to have a rather limited perspective on research. There is more to modern market research methods than old-fashioned questionnaires. Norstat alone is offering cookie tracking and ID matching together with a bundle of other sophisticated research methods. The market research industry has definitely evolved during the last years. Therefore, the book can only give limited clues how market research will find its place in the new world of listening brands. Still, you should give this book a chance and get prepared for a new era of data driven branding.
Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing 2015
Paperback: 216 pages
List Price: 15.99 USD