(Feature image with thanks to Alexandra Maria)

"The customer is not a moron. She's your wife" is the famous quote adman David Ogilvy said in 1955. The wording looks clumsy today, but the sentiment is right.

Call them - us - consumers, shoppers, customers, stakeholders or an audience... we’re People. Individuals. Complex. Different. Real not just a number on a graph, an algorithm.

We went to a market research event last week created again by the wonderful ‘Watch Me Think’ team. It was entitled ‘You Are Not Your Consumer.’  And it’s always good to be reminded how much language matters and how corrosive industry jargon can be.

The subject is one critical to the insights/market research industry. Speakers explored how to understand people who are not actually like the privileged people in marketing. Their lives, aspirations and ambitions may be different. And how you sell the importance of this to senior leadership.

It’s been exactly a year since we attended the last event and again the old Conway Hall stage in Holborn was packed, timely and stimulating.

A veritable cast of writers, academics, researchers, campaign creators, psychologists and economists again offered provocative thinking.  Some really brief snapshots, and one-liners:

Speaking truth

Rory Sutherland entertainingly and cleverly told how we need to understand ourselves first. He also said that marketing was one of the few professions where there is no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ answer or solution. As long as it was near enough to the brief and reflected data the best it could.

Though the amazing Daryl Fielding, who oversaw the creation of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, knows she got something right there. She also described the canny way she piloted such a radical idea through the entrenched culture of a corporate client.

Helen Edwards explained how growth can be found in life’s margins, created by outsiders. She took us through the history of Nike, and veganism. She also pointed that insect food’s time will come.

Avi Kluger told us what we can gain through listening properly. And how exhausting it is to do properly. Something all psychotherapists understand.

Justine Roberts CBE explained mums are people too. Sounds obvious but it isn’t. For more than 20 years, Mumsnet has been busting the myth that assumes mums are only interested in nappies and school catchment areas.

Bobby Duffy’s Generation Myth is based on an analysis of 3m+ people globally to understand the real differences, and similarities, between generations. He showed models for understanding the type of change we’re seeing, and what this means for future trends. It was good to hear that it’s not all the baby boomers’ fault.

Andrew Tenzer explained how the culture of marketing limits the potential of the industry, and why empathy isn't the route to audience understanding.

Steven Lacey also queried empathy believing in his work out on the field, much of it at the sharp end of society, has become not only a hindrance but a poisoned chalice leading to poorer insights.

Lori Meakin believes that gender equality is proven to benefit all of us, but the degree of misinformation, fear and frustration around is impeding progress: so though 'the future is female’, it is also ‘men who are now being discriminated against.’

Journalist Helen Lewis made a guest appearance. The interviewer opened with the observation that her CV was all we needed to know. So, Atlantic writer, host of BBC R 4’s The Spark/The New Gurus, her Bluestocking newsletter is on Substack. She is a frequent panellist on ‘Have I Got News For You’, regular guest on the Private Eye podcast. Ex-deputy ed New Statesman, and her first book was a Sunday Times bestseller and Guardian, Times, Telegraph and FT book of the year. She was indeed wise and witty.

Two things stood out for me in relation to what we do in luxury brand marketing: how more honesty needed to be brought back between brands and people. Purpose marketing might good for a few brands but not for all. The exchange should be as it was before - a transaction. Most brands are not friends or movements. They meet needs. It’s a commercial relationship. Also, the nature of journalism. They are also trying to understand people, as we are. The good ones - like novelists, poets, and artists – should be listened to.

All in all, an esteemed panel of experts and of course the brilliant Alistair Vince.

The luxury consumer, shopper, customer, target audience

However they are described, we know them well.

(In truth it does help that we know a little about arts'n’culture as that’s the luxury brand world. Please don’t hold it against us.)

As London-based luxury branding Agency, Anew’s two founders understand the worlds of HNW’s/UHNW’s. We deliver insights from market research, strategic brand thinking, new brand names, luxury logo design, messaging, online and offline content, coffee table books and luxury brand websites. We have helped companies such as Bombardier, Universal Music, Hatch Mansfield and Peninsula Hotels.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

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