Leslie Happas Norton and Giulia Lopomo co-wrote this article with Erika Papaccioli.


Great marketing is about establishing value for the customer and, ultimately, changing behavior. It’s a goal that requires a firm grounding in customer insight, which ultimately fuels memorable, impactful brand campaigns. A good example of this is the recent Chantix campaign featuring celebrity spokesperson Ray Liotta. Born out of the insight that it’s believed to be a sign of weakness to reach out for help quitting smoking, the ads juxtapose “tough guy” Liotta with the need for Chantix—showing smokers that they don’t have to quit on their own.

 

While insight-based marketing is widely recognized, it’s easy to lose sight of the rich texture and context that exist beyond the hard facts. These underlying emotional needs, attitudes and drivers of behavior can directly inform how a brand engages and interacts with its customers. By bringing these insights to life in an immersive and engaging way—in what we refer to as an “immersive emotional journey”—brands can develop customer-centric strategies, tactics and training, and ultimately deliver more impactful work. Exploring insights in a more immersive way—whether they’re formatted as a website or an interactive presentation—ensures that a research presentation doesn’t sit on a shelf collecting dust but comes to life through each and every brand touch point. The rich insights derived from an immersive journey can help teams improve a brand’s overall marketing efforts. Here’s how:

 

1. Shaping brand strategy: The immersive journey provides a marketing team the opportunity to shape their brand positioning and communication strategies around what matters most to their customers. For example, we recently conducted an immersive emotional journey to determine how migraines affect peoples’ daily lives and determine what opportunities exist for a launch brand. In the course of our research—a two-week period in which we collected text, video, audio and photo documentation of patients’ experiences—we discovered that migraine sufferers don’t just lose time during a migraine—when they’re feeling the most sick and unable to perform daily activities—but also in the time between migraines. We saw photos of a woman’s laundry room, piled with clean laundry that she hadn’t put away because she chose to spend her limited “well” time with her family. 

We delivered these learnings in their raw emotional form through a multimedia website. By seeing firsthand just how many trade-offs migraine sufferers must make, a marketing team could define its brand positioning as “around-the-clock relief for a well-rounded day.” From there, an agency could develop a campaign about life’s little moments between migraines and the need to maintain daily function.

 

2. Creating customer-centric tactics: The immersive journey draws insights from multiple stakeholders, demonstrating how brand messaging should adapt to meet a range of needs. Our migraine research showed that the physical and emotional consequences, as well as the misunderstanding of migraines, extend beyond the individual to family members, friends and coworkers. Hearing these fears and feelings of shame from sufferers creates a deeper understanding of their withdrawal and eventual resignation. From this understanding of patients’ desires to validate their condition, a brand could create awareness tactics that demonstrate the impact of migraines and establish urgency for healthcare providers to change behavior at the point of care. These tactics might include a peer-to-peer program in which migraine sufferers and their families can learn from others through podcasts, live events and user-generated videos. 

 

3. Building empathy through sales training: Using the immersive journey as a sales training tool can help build empathy via a deeper understanding of patients and prepare sales representatives for richer interactions and engagements with their customers. Our migraine research revealed that in the face of darkness and despair, migraine sufferers still hold out hope for the future. Through simulations that reflect real-world experiences or exposure to patients’ videos, audio clips and photos, sales reps can put themselves in the patients’ shoes to empathize with their lived experiences.

 

The immersive migraine journey is just one example that illustrates the power of thinking beyond market research to show how insights can be used by brand teams and agencies. Creating a living platform with multimedia content that dives deep into customer insight ultimately helps shape more relevant, meaningful experiences with a brand and its audiences.