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We live in a World of ‘tailored solutions’.
Food … finance … clothes … friends … apps … books …
You name it, we’ve got it.
But is it doing us any good?
Is having all our needs/wants/tastes met, helping us in the longterm?
Of course it’s nice when you receive something that suits you – but what about those things that, on first impressions, don’t match your usual tastes?
What about those things that when you experience them, take you to somewhere new … somewhere interesting … somewhere great?
What about those things?
A book … a film … an outfit … a food?
The good news is that currently, the technology that companies rely on to match their products to their purchasers are – appropriately enough – imperfect, but this will only diminish over time as things get smarter, better, quicker and more invasive.
And while convenience is well, convenient … isn’t it all a little bit, boringly comfortable?
As my Mum said, everything is good in moderation – but we’re not getting tailored solutions in moderation are we, we’re getting them – or attempting to get them – in excess.
The irony of planning is that we are contributing to this.
For all the talk about helping brands be more powerful, differentiated and interesting, we are ultimately paid to help them ‘fit in’ with people’s lives
What’s worse is the way the discipline does this, is to place a huge emphasis on what people are doing now and then try to find a gap – or a way – to put ourselves in-front of all our competitors offering.
In other words, it’s not about finding ways to nudge/encourage/push people into the unknown and exciting – a place where they may find things fascinating and interesting – but keeping them firmly where they are, albeit with a slightly different slant on what has gone on before.
I know … I know … ‘commercial realities’ mean this is what we have to do.
But is that what actually happens?
You could argue that if all you’re doing is fighting within the existing category, you’re basically fighting in a limited pool where your only hope is to steal a bit of share from one of your existing competitors.
And that’s why I have always been a massive advocate of thinking about culture, not just the category.
By understanding what is going on in their hearts, minds, fears and thoughts … looking broader, not just deeper … you can find an underlying tension that can be the basis for you to challenge a broader audience to take notice and start to care … a mass of people who might start to consider you an option, not just as a brand but as a category … a group who could go on a journey of discovery and push things even further because you’ve appealed to their values not just their habits.
Planning is very important, we represent the views, needs and opinions of the masses … but if we want to make a bigger difference – to them, our clients & our industry – it’s time to stop just focusing on what can be the ‘perfect fit’ and more on what people can grow into.
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