Knowledge is power but Leadership needs better Understanding.


Even in today’s forward focused leadership culture the emphasis, all too often, remains on knowledge rather than understanding.

We need data, percentages, quantifiable information. How are our consumers behaving? What are they doing? How many?

We know that to influence these numbers we need to understand why consumers are behaving as they do. But it is difficult to quantify understanding, to have the security of numbers and percentages. It often feels like opinion.

When we are presented with explanations of consumer behaviour it often is just opinion. Someone, maybe someone very experienced and knowledgeable, has looked at the vast amounts of data available to them and come up with their interpretation of why consumers are behaving as they are.

Even qualitative research is too often reliant on consumers’ explanations of their own behaviour – System 2 explanations of System 1 behaviour that Kahneman pointed out, many years ago, are completely unreliable.

To develop products that truly meet consumer needs, and communications that really connect with our consumers, we need to understand consumers’ unconscious motivations and needs. The true triggers of their System 1 responses that are the decisions that drive demand for our, and our competitors’, products and services.

So, what is the best way to uncover consumers’ unconscious System 1 thinking?

Brand and product leadership requires us to understand not just HOW our consumers behave but WHY. Understanding their interaction with our brand or product does not come from observing their behaviour during use or how and why they use it, it comes from understanding the emotional journey that that interaction takes them on.

Every product experience produces an emotional shift in the consumer, it changes how they feel. All the complicated technical details of our product and our communications are simply tools that we are using to create this emotional journey for the consumer.

When you understand the emotional journey that your consumer is seeking and how you can use these tools to perfect your delivery of it, then you can show real leadership in the management of your product, your brand and your team… and this will translate to leadership in your market.

We have helped leaders around the world to a better understanding of their products and their consumers and how to utilise this understanding to develop new products, regain market share, and solve a whole array of problems that they were struggling to fix.

When you combine all your data with understanding your consumers’ emotional journeys then you can utilise this context and meaning to create the best performing brands which truly resonate with your consumers.

Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands