Feeling the festive spirit – could experiential and tech be the key to advent success?
Jay Short argues that innovation in festive campaigns comes in the form of experiential
Kate Nightingale, Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology on the power of human centric marketing.
“Don’t do one thing 100% better, do 100 things 1% better.” Kate Nightingale the Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology is explaining the theory of marginal gains, as shared by James Kerr in his book, Legacy.
In the wake of a pandemic which demands that people learn to live in a state of almost constant uncertainty, that marginal gain is often to be found in regaining a sense of control in the little things. As Nightingale explains: “That desire for control was evident before the pandemic; everything from personalisation to co-creation is a manifestation of that desire to control.”
Yet, in the wake of the pandemic, the need for control has stepped up to the next level; a shift that means brands need to be laser focused on making continual incremental gains that help consumers’ control as much of the buying experience as possible. As Nightingale explains: “From choosing what delivery courier you want to use to being able to have a conversation with a brand on social media, these are all things brands should have done prior to the pandemic, but now is so vital.”
Nightingale, who is speaking as part of Creativebrief’s interview series in partnership with the Women in Marketing Awards, believes that it has never been more important for marketers to obsess about the small changes.
Any communication that attempts to change your behaviour based on shame and telling you off just does not work. Human brains are designed for positive reinforcement and positive associations are much more effectiveKate Nightingale, Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology
In an era in which consumers are seeking a sense of control wherever they can get it, Nightingale believes that brands need to be transparent and human when it comes to sharing information with consumers.
This focus on humanity sits at the heart of the Style Psychology proposition. The company describes itself as a ‘human experience consultancy’ delivering a ‘new view on consumer business stemming from an old view on the human’. It’s an empathetic approach which has seen the business work with Swarovski, Snug Shack, Dowsing & Reynolds, Flexology Studio, Crowd DNA.
Nightingale, who is also a lecturer in consumer behaviour and consumer psychology at Regent's University and the London College of Fashion, is clearly passionate about understanding consumer behaviour.
“You might look at a product category and think it's so boring,” she explains, pointing out that even Pet Food brands have stories to tell. “They have all the right information, they are easy to buy, there is no scrolling endless pages, but often there is no information about the company.” She adds: “Even with big brands customers really want to know what they are about.”
As the climate crisis continues to rise up the consumer agenda, Nightingale believes that now is the time for a shift in approach. She explains: “Any communication that attempts to change your behaviour based on shame and telling you off just does not work. Human brains are designed for positive reinforcement and positive associations are much more effective.”
Pointing to the power of building trust and intimacy she urges brands to really focus on consistency when it comes to tackling emotive challenges such as the climate crisis. In essence, this means that brands need to ensure they don’t suddenly switch tone in their advertising to solely focus on environmental benefits. “You change behaviour for sustainability, or for health, or for social impact by positivity; not by constantly telling people what they are getting wrong.”
In the wake of the challenges of the pandemic, the power of positivity in marketing is potent. Nightingale points to the recent collaboration between luxury brand Coach and Disney as an example of colourful energetic designs which make you engage and care.
In the pandemic, we have seen people starting businesses that perhaps they would not have started before. The shift was a strong understanding of market needs and target audiencesKate Nightingale, Head Consumer Psychologist and Founder of Style Psychology
Sharing the challenges of leading a small business in the midst of the pandemic Nightingale urges leaders to become more self-aware when it comes to understanding customer behaviour and addressing their own preconceptions.
“In the pandemic we have seen people starting businesses that perhaps they would not have started before. The shift was a strong understanding of market needs and target audiences,” explains Nightingale.
These start-up and scale-up businesses have been key to Style Psychology, with Nightingale launching a bootcamp course to upskill founders on consumer psychology.
You only need to say the words ‘toilet roll’ for a simple reminder that consumer behaviour in the wake of the pandemic has the capacity to be equal parts irrational and fast-moving.
For Nightingale, this underlines the fact that despite the decline in brands looking for support in consulting advice for physical retail spaces, that need for a deep understanding of consumers intensified in the wake of the pandemic.
She explains: “Suddenly because people were behaving weirdly it became clear that having a Chief Behavioural Officer on your team as a start-up was a great strategy.”
A strategy that calls on the scope and flexibility of Nightingales skills. “We have seen direct to consumer brands with no legacy grow massively in the pandemic,” she says. A growth which underlines the benefits of truly understanding your consumers, not just as a data point or as an abandoned basket, but in the complexity and confusion of their full humanity.
The story of the Women in Marketing Awards is one of building a movement and a network that is the antithesis of the ‘old boys’ network’, which has historically excluded women from key networking and profile building opportunities so vital to building a career in the creative industries. As we approach the 2021 Awards, Creativebrief will be asking winners and supporters of the Awards to open up about their experiences in the industry and give their advice to the marketing talent poised to enter and pick up the much-coveted awards in the future.
Q: Tell us what the most challenging moment of your career has been and how you got through it?
A: There are plenty of challenges to share. The biggest one is the lack of understanding and belief that what we do is important and needed. I have seen boards and executives intrigued by our concepts, but not fully understanding why they need us. In the last 18 months, the biggest challenge we faced was cash flow, payments were delayed and projects were not following through. When you are running a business it is something that will occasionally happen, but I have never had that situation before. The one thing this challenge does is it really motivates you to believe in yourself and constantly have that in your mind. Focus on that positive belief and trust in yourself rather than what's lacking at that moment.
Q: Tell us about the biggest high point of your career?
A: There are so many of them; it's not about the biggest client or best project, such as the global store concept we created for Swarovski. Instead, it's about the experience of working with brilliant founders who ooze love and compassion - especially over the last 18 months. These beautiful relationships can make such a good impact. Being able to have that trust and love so wholeheartedly feels extremely meaningful.
Q: Tell us about the impact of Women in Marketing on your career and being part of the WIM community?
A: I met Ade when I entered in 2017 and was recognised with a Highly Commended award. There is such a warmth and I always felt the belief and support from Ade [Onilude, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Women In Marketing]. The Awards bring with them credibility, but it is more than that. I keep going back to Ade because I adore how no bullshit she is. Ade is a rebel with a big heart and lots of support. This is exactly the attitude I love.
Q: What would be your advice to women starting out their career in marketing today?
A: The biggest thing for me throughout my career - is to find someone who wholeheartedly
believes in you. You might have the craziest and unproven idea but having someone in your corner really helps you in those tough times when you are unsure. Always have a clear idea or mission of what you are trying to do and what you want to achieve. Think about your life mission and how you can use your work to fulfil that life mission; then you will always be much happier and fulfilled.
A lot of different coaches say ‘imagine your funeral - what would you like what people to say about you. What would be the impact that you have made?’ Yes, it's a morbid exercise but once you start thinking about it, you can really start to have that fire in your belly to focus on what you really want to do.
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