Have we become Data-Lazy?

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In order for creative concepts and brand platforms to truly connect with consumers across markets, they need to build on the deeper universal human insights that resonate beyond the cultures, customs and traditions being observed.


Thankfully, we are all human. So intuitively, we know when we delve deeper – beyond the reams of data that outlay our supposed differences – we discover we are not really all that different.


Reaching this deeper aspect of human insight is where building true, universal brand equity lies. And it’s available to any brand willing to do the deeper work needed to get there.

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Behind the numbers

CMOs managing global brands are buried in data. Our industry’s ongoing and increasing capability to measure observed behaviour along the consumer journey – although infinitely quantifiable and tactically seductive – takes time. Ultimately, it can prevent us from engaging in deeper, insight-revealing work. Work that leads to more relevant and robust concepts and strategies that engage consumers with brands.


Unfortunately, today, ‘Data Rules’. All too often, we are seduced into the notion that all we need to do to connect with consumers is to take our rich, data-driven, honey trap of behavioural information, identify the most important observations and execute against them. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Data is great, it is crucial, but it’s only the tip of the engagement iceberg.


We can accumulate all the information we like but merely reflecting observations back in the direction of the consumers we have been observing is far from the best use of a brand’s money, or the consumer’s time.

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What Science Tells Us

Taking the time to go deeper – focusing on the more fundamental and universal aspects of what we think, how we feel and why we act – helps us identify and leverage the relevant emotions that connect consumers to brands.


After all, science tells us that over 90% of the decisions we make happen in our emotional subconscious. This means that the engagement we seek doesn’t lie in creating communication that mimics visible behaviour. Rather, we need to reach behind the behaviour, to activate the hidden, more compelling emotional triggers we share. 


If we want to create truly effective and enduring communication for brands – whether internationally, or locally – we need to understand the essential difference between observation and insight.


We need to use data, not rely on it.


We need to stop being “data-lazy” and get back to what creating equity in communication has always been about: facilitating resonant, meaningful and enduring connections between people.

Gavin's advice for strong creative solutions

  • The Ultimate Moment of Truth for a brand is that moment of inertia when its product or service transcends its functional offering and delivers against a consumer’s deeper emotional need. Be precise about this moment and execute faithfully against it.

  • Contrary to popular belief, 9 out of 10 communication briefs have observations posing as insights. To help avoid this problem in your brief: Articulate your observation first: the behaviour you are observing (what you can see), followed by articulating your insight: the emotion is driving that behaviour (what you can’t see).

  • Use data… don’t rely on it.

  • Want to find out more about turning observations into insights?

    Get in touch with Gavin.

    Gavin Mulligan

    Creative Director, Partner

    20 67 96 28 GM@advance.dk