Thursday, November 11, 2010

Insight gone bad...

Microsoft launched the new Windows 7 phone this week with lackluster results.  Monday morning quarterbacking is always easier than making the right call in the moment, but you have to wonder how much is due to the mega million dollar ad campaign that completely misses the mark.  Having consumer insight at your fingertips and knowing how to use it are clearly two different things.

Earlier this week, David Webster of Microsoft was quoted as saying in TechFlash   “Great advertising, great marketing in general has to come from a truth.  If it doesn’t come from a true observation, either about you, your brand or the world around you, it simply won’t resonate…In our case, we really focused on marrying up a product development insight that we had – which is that too many smartphones have the same design, the same inefficient way of accomplishing tasks, and there’s opportunity for a fresh reset on the user experience – and a marketing insight, which is, we’re in a moment now when people are just sucked into these things in moments where that’s probably not appropriate.  If a phone design is contributing to that bad behavior, then we should call that out and attach our phone as the solution to this global problem.”   That was a big “if”.  “If” the phone design is contributing to that bad behavior. 

Wouldn’t you think Mr. Webster’s consumer insight research would have identified that the phone design is not the problem?  Apparently, it did as Mr. Webster goes on to say “…there’s a ton of research that has been done on the subject, the impact that the phone is having on the brain, and social relationships, child development.  There’s a ton of interesting material out there.  But I came across a tweet, from a guy that I follow who’s very funny, that I just absolutely fell in love with and I printed it out and have it on my wall, which says:  “My new definition of cool:  When I’m out with you, I never see your phone, ever.”  That to me was just great, for somebody to say, we’ve crossed some kind of invisible line.”

So how did Mr. Webster and team make the leap from “I don’t want to see your phone, ever” to phone design being “the solution to this global problem”?  Only Microsoft has the answer to that question but having insight- the science side of market research - is just the first step.  Knowing how to interpret?  Now that’s art.

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