Why I Hate “Like”

Kyle Nel

Time and time again in multiple organisations I have seen “good but not great” research results that lead to business decisions that do not move the proverbial needle for the retailer/brand/organisation.

Why? If people like “it”, and say that they would likely buy/do whatever it is we asked in the research, why would they fail to do so in the real world? Simply put: people/consumers/customers have more good choices than they have ever had in the history of mankind. People do not have to buy things they just like; they can opt to spend their precious resources on things they love. Liking something won’t necessarily change behaviour, but the emotional responses of love and hate will.

In the post WWII USA, just about whatever was produced by food CPG companies was consumed. The consumer demand was so high that even feeling ok about a product would more than get the sales needed to sustain a business. As time passed and manufacturing capacity dramatically increased the inverse happened to demand. Consumers became choosier—because they could. There were, and are, more and more products competing for the same relative number of consumers. As a result those products that were better than—those products/services that consumers actually liked—did far better than the “ok” alternative. Darwinian product selection is now at a point where consumers have chosen to consume/purchase/patronize only brands they love, and the remaining “ok” brands have died out.

In this new world of love, why do we still focus so much on metrics of “like”? I think the answer lies within a legacy of methodology and process. We are doing what has always been done because it works. We may be reaching a point where “like” won’t work anymore. If anything, we should spend more time understanding the things people really hate so that we can solve those problems for people, thus turning hate into love.

The simple truth is that most ideas will not be superstars. Most ideas will fall into the “ok” or “like” buckets. By the very definition of extraordinary, those ideas/products/concepts that truly break through will be rare. It is my firm belief that just because these are rare doesn’t mean we should settle for anything less.

What are some solutions? New methodologies are breaking through. BrainJuicer, for example, as the veritable standard bearer for the new MR revolution, is turning old notions and methodologies on their head, and buyers of MR are joining its ranks—because these new methods work.

Am I off base? What do you think? What do you see as the future of MR?



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