July 14, 2024

Out of your mind and into the customer’s world


It’s easy to assume other people see the world the same way we do.

We see the world through the lens of our own values, beliefs, rules, and biases that have been shaped by our life experiences. But it’s not safe to assume our customers are looking through the same lens.

The Pepsi marketing team learned this lesson with its Kendall Jenner video ad.

The ad targeted millennials using protest imagery associated with the Resistance movement in the U.S. The storyline suggested “unity, peace, and understanding” can be achieved through a can of Pepsi. The story did not resonate with its audience. It was pulled immediately due to online outrage.

Pepsi assumed people are looking for a brand to save them from difficult times, or lead the way through. They are not. Many people took offense and felt that Pepsi had commercialized and trivialized their worldview. In the process, Pepsi trivialized its brand.

“Speaking respectfully to a person’s worldview is the price of entry to get their attention,” said Seth Godin in All Marketers Tell Stories. “If your message is framed in a way that conflicts with their worldview, you’re invisible.”

Other advertisers have begun questioning their assumptions about what appeals to consumers.

In the wake of the surprising results of the 2016 presidential election, some agencies concluded they have misjudged the middle-America audience.

One takeaway from their post-election analysis is that too much advertising falsely assumes all consumers want to be like coastal elites. “So many marketing programs are oriented toward metro elite imagery,” said Harris Desmond, CEO of McCann Worldgroup.

Why do so many marketing programs miss the mark? Many times it is because we make wrong assumptions about the customer’s worldview. All of us see situations and make decisions based on our beliefs and biases.

The key for marketers is to be aware of our worldview, and set it aside to understand the worldview of the people we hope to influence.


[BONUS: Learn more about gaining customer insights and understanding their worldview to make your marketing resonate in this episode of The Heart of Marketing.]

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