Published on: May 31, 2017by Michael Sansolo
A woman at my gym (who happens to be a doctor) made an interesting observation as we worked out together this past weekend.
Most of the women working out, she said, look in the mirrors around the room and see every single flaw in the bodies. The men, in contrast, look at themselves in the same mirrors and see six-pack abs and chiseled physiques.
As she explained, the reason is due to both complex sociological issues and the simple reality that every person perceives the world in their own special way, rightly or wrongly.
Last week, Kevin wrote an interesting column about his experience at a baseball game and his realization that he was offered a benefit that was clearly aimed at the older patrons in the stands. And it got the attention of a lot of readers, almost all of whom took aim at what they perceived to be Kevin’s vanity.
Heck, even Kevin admitted (during one of our regular several-times-daily) phone calls) that he may have made his point less artfully than he wished.
But I’d argue he actually made an important point and one that increasingly is key to successful marketing.
That is: what consumers perceive as reality is far more important than what actually is the case. And as marketers struggle to connect with increasingly complex shoppers, it becomes increasingly important to reconcile aspirations with realities.
For instance, we know shoppers love “local,” but they aren’t totally sure what that means. Is it a product from the same county or state or even just somewhere in the US? The answer, frequently, is all of the above, just at different times.
Or, we know shoppers tell us they want more emphasis on healthier foods or specific types of shopping trips, yet countless failed examples demonstrate that reality can be very different.
And then we get demographics, whether it’s a Boomer, like Kevin or me, being offered - and being offended by - a service intended for people our age. Or my 87-year-old mother complaining that there were too many old people at some location she just visited.
Who we are is who we perceive we are and that creates an incredible challenge for today’s marketers who have to serve and satisfy both reality and perception. But as with so many issues in today’s marketplace, that’s a fine line that must be walked correctly.
More than ever we need understand how to serve the Boomer generation that feels eternally young even as they (or their friends) start lining up for hip and knee replacements and more. And that same complexity extends to every generation walking your aisles.
Unraveling these mysteries won’t be easy and probably can’t be accomplished without increased communication between retailers and suppliers and both of them with consumers. Together, we might know a lot more than we think.
Or at least, we better know a lot more. The perception of knowledge won’t be anywhere near enough.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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