What generally comes to mind for most people is a group of creatives coming together to create plans to sell, sell, sell! Most of us imagine the colourful “out-there” characters walking businesses that we remember as studying the more creative subjects in university.

But all that is slowly changing…

A bit more than creativity is needed in this quickly evolving and forever changing global community. The marketer of the future is data-savvy, an information and research guru while being a social media maven. The ability to be analytical is becoming more important than just packaging things to look good.

The biggest priority is now the ability to understand what the customer is saying through all the information that they are giving through all interactions with brands. The question simplifies to: “Are brands listening?”

An example of something that we, as customers are communicating to the many brands vying for all our attention is this: We are not as rational as we would like to think we are…
Butch Rice, a respected market research professional, summed this up best in three sentences that he spoke at the recent South African Market Research Association’s 2013 Conference by saying:
“We don’t know why we do what we do. We don’t know what we are going to do, before we do it. We don’t know what we have done once we have done it.”

Scary stuff, right? What’s even more scary is that this is being confirmed by neuroscience almost daily. In addition there is more and more literature being published by a range of respected authors and academics about this very topic.

Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” delves into Behavioural Economics and dispels some age-old principles about people being rational (e.g.: How demand will behave when the price is zero).
Actually, truthfully speaking your brain is lazy and takes the easy route to reach conclusions and decisions many times, as opposed to deep rational thought. Daniel Kahneman calls it System 1 and System 2 thinking, with System 1 running things most times through an automatic, quick and almost involuntary approach.

Don’t believe me? How many people do you know who build a robust comparative spread sheet before purchasing a car? Or is the decision made in that moment that the brand you love releases a new model that looks amazing and just seems to “speak to you”?
Another example? Which smartphone are you a die-hard fan of; Apple, Samsung, Nokia? Was that based on a detailed comparison of all the features of the phone with every repurchase of that brand being driven by features that consistently outdo the competition in every way?

My own car and smartphone purchases have no spreadsheets to back them up.